First movers don’t always have the advantage. Sometimes the smart thing is to wait for the pioneers to take the initial risks, and to do the hard work in shaping a market.
This award is for the company that moved quickly to dominate an emerging market category, typically with a different and better business model than the first mover.
Learn more about the 2018 shortlisted candidates
Founded in 2012 by Australian entrepreneurs Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui, Sydney-based Airtasker is an online marketplace that matches people who need jobs and tasks doing with people who provide services. A user posts details of the task and suggests a price, then other users apply to fulfil the task, either by accepting the price or countering with a higher or lower offer. The ͚client͛ then chooses who to use taking into account the applicants͛ task histories and user ratings. The service is free for users and applicants to join, with Airtasker taking a 25% commission from the applicant on successful completion of the task.
Airtasker is not the first peer-to-peer marketplace platform in the task/work space (Upwork and Task Rabbit, for example, both preceded it). That said, investment last year of AUD$33million (£18.8 million) suggests that its unique selling point (the types of services are not predefined or limited, which opens up an online market to fulfil tasks in a way that people had not previously imagined possible) makes it the best. This view is supported by the company' two million users, its exponential growth and its international expansion.
Follow Airtasker on Twitter: @Airtasker
Cassava Smartech, the pan-African Technology Company’s Mobile Money Business EcoCash was launched in 2011 as a fast follower to the Kenyan based Mobile payments giants PESA’s in addition to One Money, then, the state-controlled telecoms company NetOne.
Like Kenya’s better-known M-Pesa, Cassava’s EcoCash allows for transactions ranging from bill payments, merchant payments and micro insurance to banking services through a platform interlinked with Zimbabwe’s financial service companies. But EcoCash rejected the first-movers’ ‘one-size-fits-all’ business model in favour of a customer-oriented product that embraces the financially marginalised, enabling users to send money to loved ones, buy airtime, and pay for goods and services directly from a mobile phone.
With only 10% of the adult population banked, the platform capitalised on widespread deep distrust of the banking system and, through superior expertise, execution efficiency and a vision to turn Zimbabwe into a cashless society, proceeded to make its national rival defunct with lightning speed.
With more than eight million registered users – representing 80% of the adult population – EcoCash today has almost two and a half times more customers than the banks and currently processes 99% of all mobile money transactions in Zimbabwe, representing an enormous 54% of the country’s GDP. It is the uncontested 2017 recipient of the flagship Mobile World Congress Glomo Award - Best Payment Solution in the world.
Follow Ecocash on Twitter: @EcoCashZW
VHR is an international technical recruitment organisation serving the aerospace, aviation, automotive, engineering, defence and marine industries across 45 countries.
An owner-operated company, it has achieved growth through reinvesting profit and a continued drive for expansion. Its 2003 turnover was £500,000, growing to £33.6 million today through a business model focused on analysing mature markets with opportunities to innovate.
By no means the first or largest specialist recruitment company in the world, its rapid success is due to its highly proactive strategy, which includes partnering with local works councils around the globe. Success also comes from seconding senior VHR employees to each country to meet clients, gather market intelligence and run selection events.
It was this proactivity that enabled VHR, for example, to recruit 260 contract aircraft technicians for a major UAE airline in nine months, involving 21 recruitment campaigns across the globe.
Arguably, VHR is not merely the best in its industry commercially. As a prominent supporter of ethical standards in recruitment, its services are built on the Dhaka Principles – introduced to ensure candidates are supported and treated ethically. All VHR workers receive high-quality accommodation and services and stringent welfare checks.
Follow VHR on Twitter: @VHRofficial
Former business consultant Marc Zornes co-founded Winnow with Kevin Duffy in 2013 to combat the hospitality industry’s food-waste crisis. The business model is simple: Winnow partners with commercial kitchens to reduce waste by measuring and analysing the amount and type of waste in kitchens, enabling them to optimise their forecasting and production process. Chefs use the analytics to make their kitchens run more efficiently, typically cutting waste by 40% to 70%.
Winnow was by no means the first mover in lean production – LeanPath pioneered smart technology to track and minimise food waste in the US in 2004. But in just five years, Winnow has surpassed its rivals in terms of international reach, working in 34 countries across the globe with offices in London, Dubai, Singapore and Shanghai.
Zornes entered the market at the optimal time, working to establish partnerships with major foodservice and hospitality industry companies ahead of other competitors. He was also careful to test assumptions rigorously, which led to two key findings: most food waste comes from advanced preparation, and chefs value speed above all else in the kitchen. It was this thoroughness and insight that enabled the business to scale quickly and effectively – which is what really sets it apart from the competition.
To “winnow” means to separate the wheat from the chaff. Winnow has been doing that to great acclaim in food waste – and may be about to do the same in the industry at large.
Follow Winnow on Twitter: @WinnowSolutions