3 businesses inspired by peculiar events

posted on 24/09/2013 11:16:23 by Dan O'Sullivan

Not all entrepreneurs find their inspiration in the same place - we look at three ventures with very different beginnings.

Pet project: Observing people stroking cats inspired Lauren Pears' Shoreditch-based cafe

Heard the one about the shark-infested waters and the bestselling cider company? Some businesses find inspiration in the strangest places, with money-spinning ideas seemingly striking out of nowhere.

Here we take a look at the peculiar events that sparked three very different entrepreneurial ventures. If you know of any other unconventional sources of business inspiration, please tell us about them in the comments section.   

1.  Kopparberg

Getting stranded in shark-infested waters after falling overboard a giant transport ship may sound more like the plot for a Hollywood film than the origins of a lucrative business idea, but back in the early '90s that's exactly the situation Swedish entrepreneur Peter Bronsman found himself in.

After surviving the experience, Bronsman subsequently founded a company that now sells its products in more than 40 countries - it's hugely successful, and the Swede says it's all down to a realisation he had while perilously floating between Hong Kong and Taiwan in the depths of the night.

With his life in danger in the South China Sea, Peter Bronsman decided he was determined to survive and launch his own business. After living to tell the tale he returned to Sweden to do just that - he set up Kopparberg

With his life in danger in the South China Sea, Bronsman decided he was determined to survive and launch his own business. After living to tell the tale he returned to Sweden to do just that - he set up Kopparberg, a brand of cider that encapsulates different flavours from across the globe.

The cider was initially sold outside of Sweden to avoid strict domestic advertising laws, and the UK is now its single biggest market.

The venture started in a brewery that had initially been established in the 19th century. Bronsman's decision to buy the facility was a big one - not only did it save the site, but it was a base from which he launched what is now the world's best-selling pear cider. Not bad for an idea he had while involuntarily serving as shark bait.

2.  Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium

London's Shoreditch is known for all things quirky and cool, but a café where visitors pop in to enjoy a cup of tea in the company of some affable felines takes things to a new level.

The business is called Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, and it's the brainchild of Lauren Pears, who gave up her career in order to pursue an idea that first formed in her mind when she stopped to stroke a neighbourhood cat on her way home from work.

After realising she instantly felt at ease with the moggie, Lauren gradually began to notice fellow commuters were doing the same. She decided that a cat café where busy workers could relax in the therapeutic company of friendly felines could be extremely popular, and opted to pursue the idea further.

Lauren managed to raise £100,000 through a crowdfunding website to secure the finance for her project, and the doors are set to open in the coming months. While we wait to see if the venture proves successful, it's certainly an original one, and it all started on her journey home from the office.

3.  Iamhungover.co.uk

Good things rarely tend to happen when you're hungover. The unbearable sense that nothing will ever be good ever again is tough to overcome, and it's hard enough getting out of bed - let alone dreaming up an adventurous business plan.

Yet having felt the pain that a night on the booze can inflict, Edinburgh entrepreneurs Zishan Ashraf and Harley Mitscavitch decided to turn it into something positive, coming up with the idea to offer a helping hand to people suffering the after effects of a heavy session.

Their business - iamhungover.co.uk - is essentially a home delivery service that couriers everything from fry-ups to popular fast food meals. Customers don't have to do anything more than send their orders online, and the company makes its money by charging people a small service fee on top of their food bill.

The venture only launched back in June, but Zishan and Harley have already given up their legal jobs with a top law firm to take their business full-time. More than 1,000 deliveries have been made and the plan is to take the project nationwide as soon as possible. Who said nothing positive ever came of being hungover?  

Image credit: Edd Turtle

Dan O'Sullivan

Dan O’Sullivan is Make It Cheaper's Web Content Manager, which means much of his time is dedicated to ensuring we have plenty of online material to help business owners understand the energy, insurance and telecoms industries. With years of experience working alongside SMEs, Dan is committed to making life as easy as possible for smaller firms. You can email Dan at dan.osullivan@makeitcheaper.com

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