Disruptive innovation is when a small company uses unique business ideas in ways that challenge existing leaders in an industry. Typically, disruptive innovators create a product or service that reaches out to consumers who are being overlooked by the current leaders in the industry. Then, the innovators quickly grab the rest of the client base in that industry or even expand into new markets. To illustrate a classic case of disruptive innovation, consider the story of Netflix. When the company launched in 1997, it grabbed hold of the small segment of the market that wanted DVDs regularly but didn’t want to contend with per-item rental costs or late fees. However, the company truly emerged as a disrupter when it started streaming films on its website. Netflix began offering streaming to Canadian users in 2010, and by 2011, all Blockbuster video stores in Canada had closed up shop. To become a disruptive innovator, you need to bring innovative products, services, or processes to the marketplace so you can compete with larger companies. However, you also need to pay attention to which sector of the current customer base is being overlooked and figure out how to bring it into the fold. In some cases, that may mean offering products for a lower price, increasing accessibility in unique ways, or retooling marketing efforts to reach a wider audience.
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