Innovating Beyond a Business Model

Since the late 1990s, the vacuum cleaner market has been taken by Dyson, whose bagless vacuum technology has won countless awards, using technology developed for sawmills to separate air from debris.

In 1974 James Dyson bought a conventional vacuum cleaner that quickly lost suction power. When he opened the bag, he noticed that the dust was clogging the fine mesh of the material, inexorably reducing suction over time.

It was a few years later, working on a project that had nothing to do with it - a wheelbarrow he wanted to coat with epoxy resin - that Dyson learned that a typical method of collecting dirt, dust, and debris in industrial environments, such as sawmills, was in the form of centrifugal separators. While building a model at home, he also found that this cyclonic vacuuming system could separate air and dust from the same stream without clogging.

So he built a cardboard model with adhesive tape and connected it to his vacuum cleaner, from which he had removed the bag. The first Dyson vacuum cleaner was created. But it took several years to develop a business model that could bring the product to market: the lead manufacturers were reluctant to change since a huge part of their profits was based on selling bags (ah, the joys of disposables). But it was worth it, wasn't it?

Which product would you like to improve to reduce waste?