Offering a solution to a problem is often where a start-up idea begins. To become a disruptor or offer a product or service that’s truly unique the idea has to be fresh, innovative and well-considered. In this article we’re going to take a quick look at an excellent example of a start-up that is disrupting on a global scale.
A Truly Disruptive Idea
What3words began when Chris Sheldrick travelled the world touring as a classical musician. He discovered that there are many areas across the world without an official address system. Home locations would be described along the lines of “past the hairdresser, four houses down on the left, between the pump and the bush” leaving visitors, deliveries and even firefighters struggling to reach their destination. For those who have travelled to areas of the world where this is an issue, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Mongolia, Costa Rica and the favelas of Brazil, you may understand why this is such an issue. Those who haven’t, you may never have even realised this was a problem that existed.
What what3words does is assign a three-word combination, like “table fork spoon,” to every three-meter square across the globe. There is no time and resource wasted trying to pinpoint exact locations of homes and doors, or any complicated latitude and longitude coordinates. This provides any and every area of the globe an ‘address.’
Consumers can use the what3words app for free for navigation, but their developer software is licenced out as a revenue stream. Courier services in Brazil are using what3words to bring e-commerce to the favelas for example. The start-up has also partnered with a number of humanitarian agencies across the world, such as Diaconia, a microfinance subsidiary of Norwegian NGO Mission Alliance. People living in Liberia without an address are now able to apply for finance to provide a path to entrepreneurship because they have a 3 word ‘address’ to identify them.
So what is it that makes an innovate idea fit for the global stage? Ideas that address the problems of many, disrupt how an industry currently works and offers a better alternative are those that are more likely to cause a chain reaction of growth. Not only are what3words filling the gaps for places in the world where there was currently nothing, they’re also working with a UK delivery service who have reduced its failed deliveries by 85% since using what3words. Sheldrick explains “we spend quite a bit of resource thinking about what is coming next.” To become a globally recognised name and service there is need to be constantly innovative, keep moving forward and offer additional services and offerings.