3 Companies Bringing Innovation to Outdated Industries

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Featured / June 19, 2024
3 Companies Bringing Innovation to Outdated Industries

Business guru Peter Drucker coined the phrase “innovate or die.” The words, and many others like them, have become emblematic of the modern business landscape. It is not an exaggeration to say that innovation has become the lifeblood of 21st-century business.

Time after time, companies have sought fresh perspectives, developed new technologies, and implemented disruptive ideas. They have blazed new trails through once-stagnant sectors, revitalizing business activity and discovering profitable operating methods. 

As rapid technological advancement continues to accelerate the need for creative solutions and innovative adaptation, organizations continue to rise to the occasion. Here are a few examples of that magical momentum in recent years.

1. Rewriting the Insurance Experience

The average insurance company is 100 years old. This is what pushed co-founders Sean Harper and Lucas Ward to found Kin, a digital insurance platform that is rewriting the homeownership experience.

When the entrepreneurs realized how dated the insurance world was compared to the rest of the rapidly evolving fintech space, they created a product that could keep pace with 21st-century expectations.  They saw that insurance companies, which are selling an inherently digital product, are actually software companies in disguise.  After all, insurance companies were some of the first companies to use computers back in the mainframe days of the 70s and 80s.  However, one major reason why those legacy insurance companies haven’t been able to keep pace with the rest of the world is that they are often still running on that same mainframe software that’s now 30+ years old!  

Kin’s software, however, is built from scratch using modern tech infrastructure, machine learning, and modern databases. Kin’s customers can sign up for insurance directly from their mobile phone or laptop, even in very complicated and risky homes. Furthermore, Kin’s software can accurately and responsibly adjudicate claims remotely, enabling customers to get back on their feet faster if their homes are damaged by extreme weather.

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The Kin insurance model works directly with consumers in a digital format. This improves communication channels and increases decision-making speed. It also cuts out the middleman element of an insurance agent or broker, reducing the cost of each policy. Kin also uses granular data on an unprecedented level, allowing the company to adapt to ongoing conditions, such as the impact of climate change.

Disruptive innovators have created sustainable growth by eschewing growth hacks. Instead, they focus on giving customers high-quality experiences through a low-cost, high-tech insurance platform that is direct-to-consumer. This is a refreshing take on a cryptic business model.

2. Innovating in Education

The education sector is another practice that is as old as the hills. Although academia deals in information, its focus on classroom settings and in-person experiences well into the modern era could qualify some practices as outdated industries. 

It wasn’t until the pandemic that the academic world opened up (albeit by necessity) to a wider digital and remote technology application. Since the forced push online, remote education has thrived, partly because innovative companies like Coursera were already in place and ready to take advantage of the shift.

The digital learning platform existed long before the pandemic. It was founded in 2012 to bring educational experiences to hungry learners worldwide. In the words of the company’s vision statement, “We envision a world where anyone, anywhere, has the power to transform their lives through learning.”

The company integrated its online format with respected universities, such as Duke and Yale, to make this work as a business model that could compete with brick-and-mortar institutions. It also partnered with companies like Google and IBM to offer a wide selection of sought-after knowledge from prestigious sources. These cater to businesses as well as academically-minded individuals.

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Coursera was already busy disrupting an ancient industry years before 2020. Its willingness to invest in quality innovation early on has paid off, too, as its forward-thinking approach laid the groundwork for an online education model that has accelerated in the wake of the pandemic.

3. Breaking Beyond the Beef

The food industry could be considered a member among outdated industries, as it has existed since the dawn of civilization. In all that time, meat was heavily featured on the human menu. At times, it’s been a rarity reserved for the elite. More recently, it’s been a commonly accessible commodity for all and sundry. However, that accessibility has come with a growing sense of responsibility.

The meat industry is infamous for its inefficiency. It is also weighed down by carbon emissions, which have already led to the rising popularity of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles in areas like Europe.

Part of this shift is made possible (or at least easier) thanks to the presence of companies like Beyond Meat. The innovative food brand has created a new way to experience meat without, well, the meat

The company uses modern technology to create plant-based meat alternatives. It uses non-GMO ingredients like peas, potatoes, beans, and brown rice to source everything from proteins and fats to colors and flavor profiles that mimic meat’s texture, taste, and appearance.

As companies struggle with rising prices and shrinkflation, the meat industry will likely come under greater pressure. Companies like Beyond Meat are setting the stage for a food-based industrial revolution that will pave the way for a meatless (or at least meat-minimal) future.

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Innovative Amidst the Ancient

No industry is immune to change. Even the oldest ways of doing business were innovative in their time. New challengers are a welcome way to adapt well-established industrial activities to modern needs and expectations. 

If you operate in a traditional industry, use that as inspiration to look for the unexpected. Find ways to help your company stand out, break the unnecessary norm, and add unique value for your target audience. The resulting edge could become the catalyst that helps fuel your brand’s next stage of growth.

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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