There are many industries that aren’t necessarily known for change. We expect revolutions in the semiconductor industry. In the produce department? Not so much. But in the past decade, there’s been an explosion in innovation across industries like never before.
Beyond the easy-to-recognize tech marvels, companies have been shaking things up in the most well-established industry sectors. More than reinventing the what, these disruptors are transforming the how. And by exploring better ways to deliver, discover, and do, they’re turning customers into raving fans.
These companies are listening to consumers’ pain points and offering solutions that make earning customer loyalty easy. Plus, many of these innovative enterprises are doing more than just increasing market share — they’re improving lives and the world.
1. Heating and Cooling: HVACDirect.com
When the temperature climbs and your air conditioner is on the fritz, a feeling of panic is likely to follow. With price tags soaring into the thousands, home heating and cooling replacements can quickly derail a homeowner’s budget. Yet there’s no putting off the replacement of your HVAC system, which is the lifeblood of your home. That raises the stress level for homeowners, who feel pressured to choose both quickly and well.
Luckily, HVACDirect.com is changing the game, by providing a new option for buying. They offer wholesale pricing for consumers on high-dollar home essentials. From furnaces to air conditioners, exhaust fans, and more, homeowners can save on the equipment they just can’t do without. By cutting out the middlemen, who routinely charge whatever the market will bear, HVACDirect.com helps customers save.
The company also extends 0% financing to qualified buyers, making even an emergency replacement manageable. Shoppers also have more choices across brands and features, since they aren’t limited to brands and models offered by local heating and cooling dealers. Heating and cooling problems are historically expensive and difficult to deal with, so HVACDirect.com is a welcome change for the industry.
2. Higher Education: Guild
Most would agree that access to education can provide life-changing benefits. But if you’re already employed and lack the time or finances to pursue new knowledge, you can feel stuck. Even if your employer offers tuition reimbursement, it can be tough to front the money for continued education.
Looking at these barriers, the founders of Guild Education saw an opportunity to create educational opportunities for employees and employers alike. By creating a marketplace that links major employers and educational institutions, Guild helps companies gain the skills they need and enables workers to advance their careers and earning potential. Everyone — especially employees without previous experience with higher education — wins.
Funded by its employer partners, Guild functions as an employee benefit. With direct, employer-sponsored pathways to academic networks, 97% of users of Guild’s framework graduate debt-free. Employers gain a recruiting advantage and employees have an incentive to stay on staff, decreasing turnover and improving overall satisfaction.
3. Groceries: Imperfect Foods
Climate change, inflation, shrinking aquifers, your mother’s lesson that “A penny saved is a penny earned.” There are many reasons consumers might want to reduce food waste. Whether your focus is on the planet or your wallet, you’ll be glad to know there’s a company that shares your concern.
Food delivery service Imperfect Foods is on a mission to eliminate food waste and save people time and money. While Imperfect’s business model may seem similar to your average food delivery service, their objective far surpasses that of your local grocer. Imperfect is committed to eliminating food waste by offering fresh and nutritious — if quirky — produce and foods that could otherwise become trash.
Partnering with producers, Imperfect curates a cart filled with surplus items or cosmetic cast-offs based on your preferences. They deliver food boxes weekly, retrieving your recyclable box so you don’t have to. Customers gain back irreplaceable time, reduce food waste through intentional purchasing, and keep perfectly imperfect food out of landfills.
4. Graphic Design: Canva
We’ve come a long way since Clipart, but not every company can afford, or needs, a full-time graphic designer. Australian-founded graphic design platform Canva democratizes design, empowering the average person with a web connection to create anything from a sleek sales brochure to a compelling website.
Since its founding in 2012, Canva has helped countless individuals, companies, and government entities design beautifully. While it won’t replace graphic designers for high-level projects, its ease of use, accessibility, and pricing make DIY design magic possible. Nonprofits can clearly communicate their mission, small teams can promote their products and services, and new entrepreneurs can create their brands, all on their own.
Offering online design templates, tutorials, and intuitive components, Canva enables even the most novice user to create. And in a digital-first world, users can elevate their brand image like never before. Everyone can create with Canva, and the company is continually enhancing its product to improve team collaboration and capabilities across the globe.
There’s Ingenuity in Shaking Up the Status Quo
Sometimes innovation comes from somewhere completely unexpected. These four companies in long-standing industries prove that it’s always worth exploring new and better ways to deliver familiar products and experiences.
Whether they’re creating designs, reducing waste, increasing knowledge, or delivering major savings, experience matters. The common thread between all of these disruptors is that they’ve listened to the needs of today’s consumers. By rethinking the how of their business, they’ve given new life to their why and changed their industries in meaningful ways.