Monday, April 25, 2011

Innovation: When
It Seems Obvious

Back in the late 90's Todd Greene, came up with an award winning idea based on his own personal dilemma; he needed an easier way to shave his head. But the tools at the time sucked. Anyone who remembers the good old days may remember, to shave your head you only had a few choices...shaving cream, electric hair clipper, a Gillette razor on a long handle, your medicine cabinet mirror and a long evening involving whiskey-straight up. Painful. Awkward. And required your scalp to heal up for a few days Yea right...the best a man can get.

Armed with a small investment, a passion for his idea, and a design background Tom developed a prototype that immediately made shaving your head a joyful event. I'm not saying it was joyful like an ice cold beer and a good ball game, but you get the picture. Tom turned the event of shaving your dome something to look forward to. Tom called his racing car looking invention HeadBlade®.

Now to you and me HeadBlade seems obvious. Cool idea. Timely. Solves a huge problem. And it is so well designed that even if you don't shave your head, you want one. It's a guy thing. But astoundingly when Todd pitched his idea to the razor companies he was rejected!

How could something so innovative not raise
the pulse rate of a single executive at the
major razor companies?

I'll tell you why. Too may of us have a lot of rules in our head. (I'm serious). Rules like, why would anyone buy that? Or I don't see a market for that...that...thing! Or, who the heck are you? That's why I like the TV show Shark Tank on ABC. Entrepreneurs see the potential of a new product, the market it could fit into, and the potential to create an entirely new arena for that that didn't exist before.

Executives need to learn this skill. The skill of seeing potential from a new idea.

This is why innovative ideas may seem obvious to you and I, but lose traction when presented to the wrong person. Too many strong opinions about what will work, how could I make money on this, or simply not understanding what the idea is has left many a company wishing they had THAT product on their roster of offerings.

So without any real help from the big brands, Todd turned his company HeadBlade® into a multimillion dollar corporation and a niche brand. Hey, ya gotta do what you gotta do. By aligning his HeadBlade products with The Ultimate Fighter (founder Dana White also shaves his head) Todd turned his company into a lifestyle brand. A brand you can't live without.

Here is a short video to introduce you to the HeadBlade lifestyle:

So how does someone spot the next big idea? Start by dropping those strong opinions and ask yourself, "what is it about this that I am missing?" and "is there already a need for this product that is untapped?" "does this product have legs for a full line of product offerings?"

Now Gillette, Schick and Braun are trying to copy the leadership that HeadBlade established.

That's what I call getting caught with your pants down. Don't make the mistakes I've made (I almost missed the Internet Boom. Doi.). And BTW: HeadBlade is such a groundbreaking design, it sits on display in the Museum of Modern Art [MOMA].

Thanks again for reading...

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

"Liquid Leadership is a game changer" - TJ, New York