By Michael Schein, Contributor, Forbes (February 7, 2019) — Based on the bold pronouncements made by the “innovation gurus” who grace conference stages and webinar boxes everywhere, one might be tempted to think that in the future we’ll all be cyborgs rolling around in blockchain-powered self-driving cars with wallets full of cryptocurrencies. As it turns out, though, a great deal of significant innovation is happening at companies that produce and distribute the kinds of products we’ve been interacting with every day for decades.
What follows is a rundown of five people who are reinventing staple industries and making them new. Pay attention.
A century of doing things more or less the same way without a dent in profits seems to have made the toothpaste industry complacent. Not anymore. In launching Hello, Craig Dubitsky—the guy who founded Eos (see: lip-balm-in-an-egg) is shaking up this most stodgy of sectors. His product is wrapped in beautiful minimalist packaging, flavored with actual mint (yes, the plant), and has purged the eliminate, eradicate, destroy marketing language that has dominated oral care advertising since the first Model T rolled off the assembly line.
Michelle Cordeiro Grant looked around and noticed that most intimate apparel brands still focus on delivering what men want to see women wearing. She decided this needed to change. The result was Lively—a women’s undergarment company dedicated to serving women of all types, shapes, and lifestyles. After years of having no choice other than products churned out by an industry that takes its cues from age-old assumptions about gender (not to mention usability and comfort), women are embracing Lively on a large scale.
3. Debra Bass
When Debra Bass encountered the prenatal care technology Nuvo was developing, she knew she was seeing something truly new. As the long time President of Global Marketing Services at Johnson & Johnson, she was certainly in a position to know. Bass came on-board as Nuvo’s Chief Marketing Officer and began spreading the word with a missionary fervor about this alternative to the antiquated system of spottily accurate in-office ultrasounds. This non-invasive, software-driven solution to fetal monitoring will be changing the way prenatal care happens, and Debra Bass will be leading the charge
4. James Lee
In looking for ways to set his boutique law firm apart firm apart from his much larger competition, James was always using—and developing—technology that would give him an edge. One of the technologies eventually proved so unique that he left the firm he founded to focus on bringing it to the world. LegalMation uses artificial intelligence to automate key tasks involved in the early stages of litigation—making it the first digital tool to analyze legal complaints and actually produce draft versions of answers and initial sets of written discovery in as little as two minutes—a task that used to take eight hours. It will be interesting to see what happens to the billable hour model of legal work when LegalMation becomes the norm.
5. Adam Levene
When talking about the transformation of retail, what often comes to mind first is the choice between online transactions and old school brick-and-mortar shopping. Having previously co-founded Europe’s largest app commerce business, Adam Levene has launched a new company that makes mishmash of this stark dichotomy. HERO works with global retailers to transform billions of square feet of analogue retail space into digitally-infused smart stores. The technology allows retail shops to connect online with their most likely customers during their downtimes and to offer them on-demand human assistance. There’s a good chance the future of retail will look far different than any of us have imagined and part of that will have something to do with Adam Levene.