Google X has launched its experimental pilot Loons project in Christchurch and Canterbury, New Zealand, a project that has mounted broadband transmitters on high-altitude balloons. The idea behind the project is to give people in remote areas access to the Internet.
This is a project from Google’s secretive research lab whose mandate is to come up with new technologies. It has been experimenting with a Google driver-less car, Google Glass, similar to a normal pair of glasses but with an HD display over the right eye, and an airborne turbine prototype works for electricity-generating propellers at high altitudes.
The purpose behind Google X is to explore new technologies that make the world a better place. Incremental improvements are not good enough but rather “audacious things” that help solve enormous problems in the world.
Such innovation with huge R&D budgets is unheard of in the world of small business. The challenges that small businesses face when coming up with new ideas are to use limited resources and through innovative solutions to bring products and services onto the market.
Innovation begins with the search for new ideas, new solutions that solve people’s problems. Think of the first personal computers, the Internet and smart phones. For a start-up or small business research for new ideas needs to be just as creative or innovative, especially as the large companies are ever present and ready to pounce on local opportunities.
Almost any experience with customers, suppliers and people in general can be a source of new ideas. That’s why it pays to listen to customer complaints, observe customers using products and doing surveys to find out what customers enjoy about your product or service and what they would love to have but aren’t getting from you.
Entrepreneurs face the challenge of identifying and combining resources to take an idea from a mere notion or concept into the tangible reality of a new product or service. Personal resources include money, skills people, contacts, reputation and information. The entrepreneur is the key resource because without his or her vision innovation will not take place. Innovation comes about when entrepreneurs assemble, attract and combine various resources.
Experimenting with the Google Loons in New Zealand follows a similar path of innovation that entrepreneurs take albeit with far less capital and need to achieve financial results.