Making an omelette means cracking some eggs. Any successful project has a failure or two along the way, and equally most failures provide insights that can lead to success.
This award celebrates an individual or organisation who tried something that didn’t work out – but which provided the stepping-stone for a subsequently successful outcome.
Learn more about this year’s shortlisted candidates
The startup game is a risky business and, for many entrepreneurs, navigating the competitive landscape and securing the funding needed to survive is a huge hurdle.
For Kathryn Minshew, getting The Muse off the ground was a long journey. After co-founding her first company (PYP Media) didn’t go quite as expected, she made the tough decision to part ways—but didn’t give up on her vision for The Muse. In fact, she used the experience as a learning opportunity to avoid making the same mistakes twice. “Failing at something you've poured your heart and soul into hurts—but in the end, it made me stronger and smarter in pursuit of this crazy idea we had,” says Kathryn. Feedback from early users of The Muse, combined with her strong instincts that the platform filled a gap in the career and job search space, propelled Kathryn forward while pitching to more than 150 investors—and hearing “no” 148 times in the process!
The Muse strives to make work more human by being a trusted resource for millions of people as they seek career satisfaction—not just another job. Founded in 2011 in New York, more than 700 companies have partnered with The Muse, including: AT&T, Facebook, Deloitte, GLG, Wells Fargo, Target, BMW, Slack, and HBO.
Follow The Muse on Twitter: @dailymuse
Starting a company requires emotional investment as well as time and money. Passion and tenacity are essential to staying driven, but so is the maturity to accept that letting go of an idea is also sometimes necessary.
Before he founded OYO, India's largest hospitality company spread across 200 cities offering access to more than 7000 hotels, Ritesh Agarwal originally founded Oravel.com, which was a platform for listing budget accommodations. Ritesh came to realize that the problem was not room discovery, but ensuring the right guest experiences and quality of accommodation. In 2013, Oravel pivoted from a discovery marketplace to a managed marketplace for standardized hotels listed under the OYO brand.
Using the well-known Lean Startup approach to business development, Ritesh switched to offering standardised hotel experiences for his guests, and OYO was born. Ritesh was selected for the Thiel Fellowship (started by PayPal founder, Peter Thiel) in 2013. He is the first resident Asian to be accepted into the program.Today, OYO has successfully raised $US200 million in funding from SoftBank and other investors including Lightspeed India, Sequoia Capital and Greenoaks Capital and is currently valued at $US850 million. Its network currently spans 200+ cities in India, Malaysia, and Nepal with 70,000 rooms on offer.
Follow OYO on Twitter: @oyorooms
Doing the right thing - being principled by supporting environmental and economic sustainability - is the thread which runs through Scottish Bioenergy’s story. The company was originally intended as a community co-op to make rapeseed oil. It then developed a system to solve the problem of whisky distillery waste, but without much success.
On a third attempt David Van Alstyne, CEO and founder of Scottish Bioenergy, decided to develop a more environmental way to feed farmed salmon, which led to the exploration of algae as a foodstuff. While this idea was not successful, the idea of cultivating algae itself has been very positive.
Today Scottish Bioenergy cultivates and markets ScotBio Blue™, a natural blue food colourant which first appeared in Firkinblue gin, and can be used in confectionery, cake icing, ice cream, juices and sports drinks. “ScotBio Blue™ has grown out of UK wide university partnerships and the company’s entrepreneurial spirit,” said David. “But most importantly, the thing that has sustained us is the real commitment to develop an ethical, socially responsible business.”
Scottish Bioenergy on Twitter: @scotbio
Symphony Ltd is a manufacturer of air-coolers headquartered in India. Established in 1988 by Achal Bakeri, Symphony is now one of the fastest growing companies in the country.
The idea began with Achal’s personal dissatisfaction with the range of products then available. With his eye on design as a potential differentiator, Achal noted that competitors were focusing primarily on price. He decided to create an air-cooler which featured great design and was also quiet and safe. Symphony achieved initial success, and by 1994 it floated on the stock market. Looking at diversification as a growth strategy, the company launched a range of new products.
Unfortunately, the new products were unsuccessful, and Symphony went bankrupt in 2001. It eventually returned to the market, focused and ready to take on the air-cooler market once again. Symphony is now present in over 60 countries and has also acquired competitors in China and Mexico. Symphony is a great example of a company learning from its failures and returning to the market with focus and a commitment to continuous innovation.
Follow Symphony Limited on Twitter: @symphonylimited