We live in an age of disruptive innovations. Take a quick look around you and witness companies such as Uber or Airbnb disrupt entire industries by redefining established supply networks and opening up the marketplace to independent actors.
Family companies are often overlooked in favor of the glitz and glamour of tech firms, but they have also done their part in shaping industries with their innovative ideas.
In this list, we discover 8 world changing disruptive innovations by family businesses from around the globe.
1. Swiss Army Knife
Family: Elsner Family
Karl Elsner’s revolutionary spring mechanism allowed for multiple features on the Swiss Army Knife, eliminating the need to carry individual tools.
2. Moving Assembly Line
Family: Ford Family
Ford’s moving assembly line drastically reduced the time and cost needed to produce a car, making Ford vehicles the first mass-produced automobiles worldwide.
3. Hybrid Vehicle
Family: Toyota Family
The Toyota Prius was the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, opening up a market for fuel-efficient vehicles.
4. Quartz Watch
Family: Hattori Family
The Astron was the world’s first commercial quartz watch, setting off what became known as the “Quartz Crisis” due to its accuracy over traditional mechanical watches.
5. Mobile Phone
Family: Galvin Family
The Motorola DynaTAC was the world’s first commercially available mobile phone, resulting in advances in cellular services such as SMS and ultimately, the smartphone.
6. Instant Coffee
Family: Nestlé Family
Industry: Food & Drink
Nestlé’s Nescafe utilized an advanced coffee refining process to commercialize instant coffee, which became renowned for its speed of preparation and long shelf life.
7. Tetra Brik
Company: Tetra Pak
Family: Rausing Family
The iconic Tetra Brik’s aseptic packaging technology revolutionized the packaging industry, maintaining sterility for food contents and eliminating the need for refrigeration.
8. Tata Nano
Company: Tata Motors
Family: Tata Family
The “world’s cheapest car” was released without most nonessential features, opening up a market for such compact, bare-minimum vehicles in the developing world.
Tharawat Magazine, Issue 24, 2014