Some businesses are a cut above the rest, producing inimitable products, growing at an unheard of speed, or offering a customer experience that cannot be beaten elsewhere. Most companies crave being seen as so successful and mould-breaking, but in reality only a few are able to captivate and inspire the public.
What makes these companies so special, and just what are the secrets to their successes?
Completely changing the process of ordering takeaway meals, Just-Eat have grown exponentially since their 2006 beginnings in Denmark – in 2015 they experienced a 58% rise in revenue and profits of £34.6m.
The popularity of the smartphone-focused company is thanks to two main incentives. For the takeaway businesses that populate the company’s app and website, the inexpensive membership fee and low commission costs have set the company apart from other, more expensive competitors – an attractive proposition to takeaway owners. The second is for consumers – ease of use, greater clarity when it comes to ordering, and the ability to check reviews before they spend their money.
Video game production has traditionally been a field fraught with overruns, flops and the dreaded “development hell”, with many a production house hit hard by a disappointing title, never to appear again. UK-based Frontier Developments, creator of the extremely popular Elite series, is not one of those companies.
In 1994 the team produced one of the most popular space games ever – Elite – and continued producing games over the next decade. In 2012 though, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring their original title into the 21st century, raising over £1.5m in the process. The game was released to a fanfare, enthralling the series’ hardcore fans as well as newcomers – an excellent achievement given the nature of the industry.
Producers of computer software, Canonical are the UK company behind Ubuntu, a free, open-source operating system used in a huge number of devices, including both traditional PCs and mobile devices. While you might think that offering free software isn’t the best way to build a business, the headline-grabbing nature of this flagship project is bolstered by a variety of high-quality, paid-for software programs and applications.
Positioning itself as a VIP travel club, Secret Escapes offers users the ability to enjoy nights at luxury hotels, all for a massively reduced price. The company was set up in 2010, and grew 300% during 2013 alone, attracting some 5m subscribers that year on the back of a fresh idea, excellent discounts and ease of use via app and website.
This success has ensured the company is popular among investors. Last year it attracted £39m from Google Ventures, adding to the millions that had already been placed in the company’s coffers during the four previous years, thereby allowing it to strike out into new markets across the globe. Speaking to City A.M. in 2015, chief executive Alex Saint noted that the company aimed to be a “multi-billion pound turnover business by the end of the decade”.
Sending greeting cards is a process that has remained relatively unchanged for over a century, with a trip to the high street forming the usual routine when a celebration rolls around, but London company Touchnote are trying their hardest to disrupt this state of affairs.
The business and its accompanying app allow users to turn their own photos into greeting cards that are then delivered to a recipient of their choice. Over 2015 the company grew a staggering 2,300%, with customers loving the modern technological take on a highly traditional way of keeping in touch with friends and family.
Companies that inspire are those that dream big, disrupt the norm, and capture the imagination. Innovation breeds success – an understandable axiom when the above companies are taken into account, and a useful lesson for entrepreneurs to learn.