This subject was discussed briefly at the end of Chapter 12, but I would like to take it up again here and add a few details because it is an important story. The story implies that it is possible to make a million dollars carrying forward some of the ideas that have been discussed in this book. That is only true, of course, if you have learned what you need to know about imagineering.
In the last part of the book you were introduced to folding cardboard boats, and how they performed or failed in cardboard boat races. You were introduced to folding plastic boats as well. The plastic material is similar to cardboard in that it is corregated to add strength and lightness.
Let’s talk a little more about the folding plastic boats. They certainly are easy to build and inexpensive as well. But perhaps you might suspect that anything so easy to build is likely to be worthless.
As a matter of fact, that is not true unless you believe that a million dollars is worthless. Here’s the story.
Making a Million Dollars Each
Three young men became aware of folding plastic boats a few years ago, and decided that they had interesting possibilities. They spent four years working on the design of a folding plastic kayak. In the process they tried out hundreds of model designs and built more than 20 prototypes.
After they felt that they had achieved an elegant design they started building, and sold about 1400 boats over one year’s time. Then the three young men took their design and sales achievements to the investors at the Shark Tank program on ABC and found an investor who gave them the $500,000 investment that they felt they needed to expand the program to full scale.
It seems very likely to me that they and their investor will each make at least a million dollars in the next few years. The design has a lot going for it. It is extremely portable. It is good-looking. It can be sold online and shipped to buyers. And it could be sold on Amazon. That is a big plus. Check out their kayak at the ctrl-click links below. When the first link opens you need to scan down a little to get to the main video.
I need to point out that these three young entrepreneurs did not learn about either folding plastic boats or imagineering from this book. They started working on their folding kayak project about four years ago, about the same time that I got serious about this book. But the interesting thing to me is that no matter where they got their innovation education from, they have acted exactly as if they got it from this book.
This folding plastic kayak is a perfect example of innovation in action. A design that many people would feel is worthless or at least slightly crazy, has been turned into a million dollar product by a very serious trial and error effort. Try, try and try again. Notice that the leader of the design team obviously understood his subject.
What Does This Teach Us
What does this story teach us about innovation? Here’s what I see. It pays to be a little crazy. It can pay to use old ideas in new ways (origami combined with strong foldable plastic). It pays to simplicate and add a whole lot of lightness. It pays to test, test, and test again. It pays to work very hard, and not be in too much of a rush. And it definitely pays to understand your subject.
These three young men built a better boat. You could do the same, or you could build a better something else. Innovation is a capability that can be applied to any problem that would benefit from moving ahead.
Innovation can be used to do many things besides making a million dollars, but if making a million dollars is your objective it can be very helpful.