Thursday, 14 May 2015

Business Start-Up Lessons Of Some Famous Companies Such As Pez

We all know the origins of modern companies such as Google (formed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin), Microsoft (founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen) or Ford (Henry Ford).

However, there are many older well-known companies which were formed by unorthodox but inspirational methods.  Here's the story of some very famous brands.


Eduard Haas hated smoking with a passion.  He developed PEZ as a peppermint-flavored candy in the 1920's to substitute for cigarettes for smokers in Austria.  Eventually, he traveled to the United States in the 1950's and tried to do the same thing there.  It didn't catch on and failed.  His solution?  Funny heads on top of the Pez dispenser and fruit flavors so that children would clamor for them.  It became a huge success (and the basis for a Seinfeld episode).


If you're an unemployed architect in the 1930's, what do you do?  If your name is Alfred Butts, you can try to invent a game.  He did try but two circumstances delayed its debut: he found a job and his idea was rejected as more intellectual than fun.  In the late 1940's, Butts tried again with a friend and manufactured the game himself.  In a couple of years, Scrabble became a national bestseller selling millions of copies.  Around 30 years later, Trivial Pursuit would follow a similar road to success.  You can read about Trivial Pursuit's success HERE


In the 1890's, 'disposable' items weren't as common as they are now.  Razor blades certainly would be a candidate since most men shave every day and the razors can get pretty dull after a while.  King C. Gillette, a travelling salesman, saw the potential and went to work to perfect a disposable blade.  The concept was simple but making the blade thin enough saw him try and try again hundreds of times.  He succeeded after a few years and Gillette was sold for $57 Billion in 2005.


Frozen dinners, frozen vegetables, frozen fishsticks and other frozen foods are a huge industry and everybody has a freezer stocked with more than just ice cubes.  Charles Birdseye first thought of the idea of commercially-prepared frozen food in the 1910's on an Arctic expedition.  He observed natives in the Arctic preparing caribou meat which had been quick-frozen in the cold and then thawed months later.  The cooked meat still had its original flavor.  The problem was how to duplicate the quick-freezing process in warmer climates where there was no Arctic ice conveniently around.  It took him years but he developed a process that worked and the frozen food industry was born, making him a multi-millionaire by 1929.

Many companies were not formed by a group or committee but rather entrepreneurs who had a brainstorm and saw a public need that could be filled.  Of course, it took years of work to achieve success but their stories are certainly an inspiration for all of us.

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