One idea by one startup has the power to transform not only an industry but everyday lives. From making file sharing more efficient to developing cleaner forms of transport, startups have been behind some of the most important technological advances.
Here are four innovations that have taken off thanks to the ingenuity of startups.
1. File sharing
Dropbox founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi were the first to champion a cloud-based file storage system. This innovation meant that rather than carrying around USBs or sending files as email attachments, people could store files in the cloud and access them from any device, anywhere in the world.
The innovation did more than just change how people accessed files, it changed how people did business. Working remotely, collaborating with international partners and sharing information became much more efficient with the Dropbox system. Today, the company is reportedly worth around $10 billion. Both big business and individuals depend on the innovation––made possible because two MIT students had an idea and the expertise to put it into practice.
2. Electric car
Tesla Motors has transformed the automobile industry, supporting clean, electric technology that has changed the way we think about cars. Tesla grew from a prototype in the tiny offices of product designer Martin Eberhard to an international sensation. Where before electric cars were considered toys, fit only for the golf course, Tesla Motors proved you could create a high-performance electric vehicle that could leap from zero to 60 in under 4 seconds. In other words, they proved an electric car didn’t have to be slow. This hugely influential turnaround came about because of one startup.
3. Secure online transfers
It is almost unimaginable to think of life without online shopping. Whether it’s buying groceries, picking up something from eBay or reserving an AirBnB, online payments are a crucial part of everyday living. But it was a startup – the now-famous PayPal – that was one of the first to champion the idea of a secure online payment service.
Back in 1999, founders Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Ken Howery saw that there was growth possibility in the money transfer business. Enter PayPal, a system that allows individuals and business to transfer funds electronically. With one account you could send money, make purchases and never need to disclose your credit card details. While this startup did not invent online shopping, it helped facilitate its worldwide adoption.
4. New Top-Level Domains
Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow, founders of Lily cameras, not only had a business idea they had a marketing one. On the one hand, the designers had created a state-of-the-art drone camera, one that could be thrown into the air to capture high-level action shots. On the other hand, the startup had an innovative strategy to market the sophisticated camera using a highly memorable and relevant new Top-Level Domain (TLD).
Understanding the market for sports gadgets was already highly competitive, they wanted to set their product apart. So when setting up the Lily website, instead of using a generic .com address, the entrepreneurs chose www.lily.camera. The .camera TLD gave Lily an important advantage––from both a branding and SEO perspective. As new TLDs such as those that target an industry or special interest, like .courses and .study, are becoming more popular, it is startups like Lily that have been their champions.