Another example of an innovation in an industry by a company that refused to conduct business as usual is the Seattle based company, Starbucks. Starbucks was founded in 1971 by three partners with a focus on selling high-quality coffee beans and equipment. This focus eventually shifted to supplying customers with coffee-based drinks and small food items. This slight shift in business has allowed Starbucks to turn into the world’s coffee house. They went from one store that started in the early 70s to 16,635 stores that are spread out over 49 countries, but this growth did not come without opposition within the company. After a trip to Italy, Howard Schwartz, who served as the Director of Retail Operations and Marketing, suggested selling drinks in a coffee bar environment. To many, coffee was to be served at home and there just wasn’t money in being a coffee bar. It took selling the company to Schwartz in 1987, before Starbucks focused on launching their coffee bar phenomenon.
Starbucks has reinvented the coffee business. We all know that they didn’t create it. But take a look at other famous businesses, and take note of how they have set themselves as the “go to” source in their industry. Ebay certainly did not create auctions. Paypal didn’t start online commerce. ESPN didn’t invent sports, Microsoft didn’t invent computers. Nike didn’t invent shoes. Xerox didn’t invent copiers. Google didn’t invent the first search engine, and the list goes on and on.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. But take note, when innovation shows up, it may not be wrapped as you would like it to be, and it may not look like what you thought that it would look like but whatever you do, do not despise it. It may be the greatest thing since Starbucks.