Author: Professor Dr.Murray Hunter
All we hear about in the media is the latest “hi-tech” entrepreneurs who have made it big. We tend to stereotype entrepreneurship as something that requires new technology which has a high price tag and very specialized knowledge attached to it.
We also see many businesses around us that utilize technologies which we feel are outside our ability to acquire.
These assumptions dampen our enthusiasm about starting up a new venture because when it comes to technology we give up thinking about it any further.
However this can be a great misconception. Thinking of simpler ways to do things is a way of saving lots of money and carving out a little niche for yourself. Too many companies think big, spend lots of money on plant and equipment, when some ingenious thinking could get you into businesses that you never dreamt that you could do.
The first thing. Lets debunk the myth of technology. What is technology anyway? Technology really means doing something in a new way. That’s all, nothing complex about it. In fact thinking simply can solve many technology problems.
Let me give you a few examples.
The conventional way of doing tissue culture to produce plant clones for agriculture might cost as much as USD 1 million. When we didn’t have enough budget for a research grant a few years ago, we decided to make our tissue culture lab out of a plastic container. It worked. Everything cost us no more than USD 200. Please find the picture below as proof of the pudding. In fact I know a small village enterprise in Pettani Thailand that produces orchids this way and exports them to Europe.
Another example. Another village in Trang Thailand was very poor and wanted to find an enterprise to assist the people benefit economically. They decided to make handbags from local grasses and employed only very basic technology pictured below. You can now buy these bags in German and Japanese department stores. For less than USD 1000 the whole village has an enterprise that has greatly benefitted everyone.
Finally another example much closer to home in my old business. I made a natural ant repellent powder in Malaysia and exported the product to Australia and New Zealand. Normally you would have to spend USD 50,000 to build a ribbon mixer, but I decided to spend USD 150 and use a cement mixer. It generated more than USD 1 million in sales that way before I upgraded the plant.
Hunters’ Ant Attack
I have seen detergent mixers made out of 44 gallon drums in the Philippines where the owners were shy to show me. But to me these people are truly innovative and can go a long way.
Believe me you can do something that a big firm spends more than a USD 1 million on for much less if you really think about it. I hope the examples above have inspired you to think about developing your own appropriate technology for your venture.