This article is part of Entrepreneurs: The Next Generation, a ShareAmerica series written in simplified English and designed to help you develop your business vocabulary. Click each underlined word to see its meaning.
What do you do when the original idea doesn’t work?
California native Sean Leow started his businesses with razzle-dazzle. In 2007, he hosted a lavish party in Shanghai to launch Neocha, a networking site for alternative Chinese artists and musicians.
But advertising revenues were slow. Leow had to cut staff and other expenses while seeking a better business model.
Instead, he found Adam Schokora, another American, who specialized in online marketing. Schokora suggested turning the company into a consortium of artists for hire.
In 2009, Leow and Schokora started NeochaEDGE, a company that matches artists and musicians in the Neocha network — more than 30,000 at that time — with corporate clients that seek a creative advantage in local marketing. The artists get a share of what the corporate clients pay NeochEDGE.
“We realized the tremendous value that Chinese artists can bring to multinational corporations,” Leow said.
The new model worked. Today major NeochaEDGE clients include Coca-Cola, Gap Inc., Nike and Volvo.
Many inventors struggle to find a market
As a business student, Matthew Scott designed and developed a solar lamp for use in commercial buildings and aircraft. But then he read a book that gave him a different idea — make the 1.2 billion people without electricity his customers.
Scott asked his old Stanford University friend Amit Chugh to help him redesign the lamp for Chugh’s home country, India. Millions of poor Indians rely on hazardous, polluting kerosene lanterns for light.
Scott and Chugh formed Cosmos Ignite Innovations, a “joint venture,” or commercial enterprise undertaken by two or more parties. Scott secured financial backing from a venture capital fund, and Chugh established design and manufacturing operations in Gurgaon, India.
The company “was a bridge between a high-tech hub and market of millions of poor craving a better life,” Chugh said.
In 2006, Cosmos Ignite started selling its MightyLight multifunctional lamp for $50 through nongovernmental groups, international agencies and the Indian government, and later through commercial distributors.
When fishermen and weavers began using MightyLights to extend their work hours, the partners knew they were on the right track. In recent years, the firm combined the product with microcredit, small loans at low interest, to make it more affordable. It also expanded to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Rwanda and the Philippines. So far, Cosmos Ignite has sold 150,000 lamps.