3 Companies Pushing the Envelope — Even in Innovation-Focused Industries

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Startup Advice / March 5, 2020
holding lightbulb into the sky

When you’re doing something new, you might assume novelty alone will sell your product.

However reassuring, that intuition rarely pans out. The buzz around your innovation will eventually die down. Without differentiation, your product won’t have anything special to offer when competition arises. You’ll be scrambling like everyone else to adapt to changing consumer demands.  

Unless, that is, you carved out a distinctive niche when developing your product. Pushing the envelope a little — even in cutting-edge spaces — can position your brand for the next chapter in your story. A look at how three companies are taking calculated risks sheds light on how to do this without overplaying your hand. 

1. Plant People: A holistic approach to CBD benefits

Since legislation restricting cannabis products started changing, the roster of CBD oil providers has expanded dramatically. A natural, non-psychoactive substance that can lessen anxiety and inflammation, this compound has garnered lots of consumer interest. Most of the goods hitting the market look almost interchangeable.

Not so in the case of Plant People. This New York company prides itself on offering organic, full-spectrum hemp products. Most businesses focus on the isolated CBD compound, but there are 80 other known phytocannabinoids in the plant. By keeping the entire range of cannabinoid compounds (including CBC, CBN, and CBG) in the product rather than eliminating them, Plant People promotes CBD benefits in a well-rounded, faster-acting product.

This holistic approach characterizes its entire operation. From harvesting techniques to packaging, the company takes care to minimize its environmental impact. These measures help Plant People stand out in a growing industry and position itself as a holistic, ecologically conscious alternative. 

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2. 23 and Me: Keeping it simple and scientific

As scientific research has advanced, entrepreneurs have recognized the potential for making genetic information available to consumers. Getting access to this data can answer a lot of questions and help people plan. It’s not surprising that a number of players have entered the marketplace offering genetics testing for interested consumers. 

But one provider has stayed on the vanguard of these services: 23 and Me. One of the first entrants, this Silicon Valley-based operation quickly distinguished itself by making its process user-friendly and informative. Customers use its kits to collect a saliva sample to send to 23 and Me’s labs. Depending on the package they ordered, they get a customized report covering everything from ancestry to health risks to their tastes in food. 

That simple, scientific approach made it the first to gain FDA approval — a major hurdle for consumers who feel uneasy volunteering themselves. 

Its pioneering approach hasn’t kept 23 and Me out of the news, of course. Some have raised concerns about its privacy policies or expressed reservations about its business model. Pushing the envelope in a new space tends to do that. Yet that doesn’t seem to have impacted 23 and Me’s market share. Early differentiation, along with constant innovation, will continue to secure its dominance in a competitive field. 

3. Vacasa: Bringing vacationers and owners together

The advent of the internet revolutionized travel planning. Companies like VRBO and Airbnb have popped up over the years, but neither can guarantee the consistent quality many vacation-goers crave. 

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That’s the niche Vacasa seeks to occupy. This boutique global firm, based in the Pacific Northwest, centralizes its services and works with both its network of providers and customers to deliver the best experience for all parties. 

To make sure quality standards stay uniform, Vacasa offers owners full-service property management and marketing. Everything is taken care of, and the company leverages the latest in data tools and analytics to provide unbeatable value. That exacting approach to quality carries over to consumers, who can access 360-degree videos of every nook and cranny of listed properties on Vacasa’s site and manage their stay through an app. 

Satisfied customers make for satisfied owners, and the feedback loop at Vacasa has been overwhelmingly positive. In an increasingly fragmented industry, this innovative startup is offering a comprehensive service bringing vacationers and owners together. Using a technologically sophisticated approach, this startup is making travel as simple, consistent, and personal as it was in the past.   

Staying One Step Ahead of the Game

What Plant People, 23 and Me, and Vacasa offer are distinctive approaches that set them apart. Even in cutting-edge industries, these providers are carving out niches that keep them one step ahead of their many peers. 

Each offers a nuanced strategy to differentiation. They all take different approaches, but each offers valuable lessons for companies looking to push the envelope — even in innovation-focused industries.

About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.


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