Brilliant businesses that no-one talks about (but should)

Millions of gallons of ink are flowing in books and articles about the great companies that shape our world. Amazon. Facebook. Google. Apple (of course). Coca Cola. IBM. These companies are great and they are well-run by visionary geniuses who can teach all of us a thing or two about entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. And so on and so fort.

You did not build this alone

But when you think about it – most these companies benefited at a point or another from some sort of  environment or platform or eco-system that helped them thrive. Overdraft and cheap credit lines, for example. Or great schools. VCs with an eye for the log term. Talent. Legal frameworks. Media. Business networks. Money.

But how about businesses that thrive in much more hostile environments and still go global. And still have an impact on the world? Do they exist?

They do, friends. And we don’t even know their name. They exist outside that world of glamour and super-star CEOs basking in the adulation of punters world-wide. But they are none-the less brilliant, and we should study them because there is much to learn from them.

Ghana Must Go

Here’s one example of a product that has a truly global market, is instantly recognizable, is reliable, cheap and available anywhere from squalid refugee camps to remote villages on every continent to expansive shopping malls in Shanghai or pawn shops in Manhattan:

No design price?

Everyone has one at home, regardless of the demographics (most don’t remember how they got it). And I would buy a book that would show me their business model before I would buy (another) book about Steve Job’s morning cereal.

More questions than answers

Who is behind this bag? Is it even a company? How is it called ?  What visionary genius is running it? Who designed that brilliant tartan? How about the ergonomic handles? Why did they not get a price for it? Do they have a marketing department? What’s their supply chain look like? Their distribution strategy? Are they on twitter so I can follow them?

How do they pull it off and why are not all rushing to learn from them?

And most importantly, can I poach their logistician? I could really use their skills.


For the second post in this series, about the dodgy DVD business, click here.

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