Clever Businesses

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Edison Electric Light Company | Bringing the Light Bulb to the World

Although light bulbs light the world today, they’re another quintessential product that’s only been around for a little over 100 years. The first electric light was invented in 1802 by Humphry Davy, although the outcome was much too bright and short-lasting for it to catch on.

Iterations spread through the years, with 1840’s Warren de la Rue creating a platinum bulb, efficient and bright. In 1850, Joseph Wilson Swan created a glass-enclosed light bulb, still more reliable but less efficient. Finally, in 1878, Edison filed a patent for incandescent light, which was much more efficient and worked well enough to be mass-produced in 1880.

But, still, not many people bought into lightbulbs at the start of its life. Instead, people were still attached to their kerosene lamps. People only stopped using these lamps in the 1940s, with some rural areas still catching up on electric grids.

It took that long simply because the original light bulbs were seen as gimmicks. The masses saw electricity as nothing more than a gig built by the rich to be ”the next big thing.” So rather than embrace it, people stuck to their tried and true kerosene and gasoline-powered lifestyles, bolstered by the short spread electric grid and the high cost of electricity.

However, once the iterations of the light bulb calmed down and the efficiency grew alongside the US electrical grid, people started to warm up to the concept. Unfortunately, long before light bulbs became widespread, kerosene lamps were commonplace, in addition to their following deaths. That’s because kerosene emits particles, carbon monoxide, sulfur, and oxideswhich can cause poisoning, fires, and explosions, which were much too regular.

When the light bulb started to travel with spokesman to exhibitions around the United States, people realized that they didn’t have to worry about blowing their house up every time they turned on the light. Instead, they could contact an electricity company, to have electricity routed to their home, and buy a light bulb from Edison’s company, which was named Edison Electric Light Company.

And, initially, that’s what marketing relied on. They played on the fear that came with kerosene lamps, alongside the growing price for fuel and the constant shortages that came along with it. However, the sheer availability and mass production of light bulbs made them a safer and more widespread option, which, alongside the dropping price of electricity, helped boost their reputation as the years went by.

The Start of the Refrigerator and Freezer

While refrigerators and freezers are some of the most common household items today, they haven’t always been. These inventions are only around one hundred years old, having been around since the early 1900s.

That’s incredible to think about, considering that much of the food we have today requires consistent cooling in one of these two items. And so, where did they come from?

The quick answer is a need to move away from ice. 

See, ice was the only way people could cool and store their food for an extended period before refrigeration was a thing. Families would have iceboxes, or large insulated areas, which they would fill with ice before putting their food cooled there. Since the ice prevented rotting from occurring as quickly, it helped to keep food around for longer.

The issue was ice wasn’t very effective. It required huge areas packed to the brim with the material for an icebox even to work, and moving ice was expensive. After all, you’d require an icebox to carry ice to a family, and it had to be shipped by land. So, it was expensive, required a considerable amount of land, and wasn’t too efficient. Plus, ice melts, and people had to replace their entire supply every time it did!

The first electric refrigerator was we know it, was invented in 1913 by Fred Wolf in Indiana (USA), but it was only produced in a few hundred units, and never made it to any large scale commercial success. The first “real” commercial success, came along with the invention of the absorption refrigerator, which was invented in 1922 through a joint venture of Electrolux and KTH (university in Stockholm). Electrolux is still today, (2022) the second largest manufacturer in the world, of refrigerators.

The original refrigerators were marketed heavily as an affordable replacement to iceboxes, built to help families push off the need for constant, expensive ice replacement. However, breweries and meatpackers, who used refrigerators to keep their products colder and safer for longer.

Soon, the world caught on, and the rest is history. From what was once a device used exclusively by breweries to store cold ingredients, we now have the devices in nearly every home in modern countries worldwide.

Synchronization Gear | Slipping Through Spaces Between the Propeller Blades

An underrated but massive part of war efforts through the years, synchronization gear is something that not too many pay attention to. However, there’s a question that people worldwide have had for years, and it’s something that’s answered with those two words — how did World War I and II planes not shoot their propellors?

The answer is synchronization gear. These devices let guns fixed to aircraft shoot through a spinning propellor without worrying about the bullets hitting and damaging the blades. After all, shoving a massive weapon to the top of a plane, shooting forward, and missing the blades is a pretty big deal.

That’s because past solutions didn’t consider the varying firing rate of the machine gun, the changing speed of an aircraft’s propellor, and the issue of dealing with thousands of different factors at one given moment.

Fortunately, however, the world quickly solved that once World War I kicked into effect, starting with Franz Schneider. Schneider, a Swiss engineer, designed the first aircraft-related synchronization patent, which connected the propellors to the top gun via a spinning driveshaft. Oddly enough, it was never built, unlike the Raymond Saulnier patent.

In 1914, French engineer Saulnier designed a more practical gear, using a rod connected to propellor spindles to make the gun fire at specific points with a calculated space for the bullets to move between the blades. This synchronization gear was constructed, although it ended up being inefficient.

It took another year before a fitting solution was brought into existence, connecting the propellor and gun in a manner that accurately triggered the weapon when it could fire between the blades. The progess is believed to take place simultanously on both sides, the axis powers and the allies.

The first reliable synchronization gear, that was used successfully in world war 1 combat, was a German Fokker M.5 on July 1st, against a French Morane-Saulnier Type L aircraft, which ironically was named after the inventor of the synchronization gear. It is, to this day, unknown if the losing aircraft in that battle, was equipped with a functioning synchronization gear. It is important to remember, that the synchronizatin gear was “invented” a few years before this aerial dog fight, but struggled with reliability. It is also widely believed, that the reason why the very same equipment (synchronization gear) could be developed almost at the exactly same pace, on both sides of the war, was because the engineers would get access to the other sides technology, once enemy planes were shot down over their own territory.

The Fokker M.5 was like almost all planes in the early days of the first world war, originally constructed and built as an unarmed plane, used to surveillance of enemy positions. However, all of the world war 1 airforces, quickly realized the potential of machine guns on aircrafts, and they all rushed to mount them, which is how the synchronization gear was born.

Although there wasn’t a major company responsible for selling the synchronization gear, the designs made their way to virtually every significant power in WWI. Starting with German fighters, before moving to other European countries, aircraft manufacturers were required to include and incorporate the technology into each fighter plane.

And so, within a few years of creation, synchronization gear was used by Germany, Austria-Hungary, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy, and the United States. The technology quickly allowed these countries to use the aircraft as a steer for the weapons atop, pushing greater accuracy and more safety aboard the craft.

The Secret of the Comparison Website Market

Comparison websites make up billions in revenue for companies all over the globe. One of the biggest out there, Booking Holdings, pulled in a whopping 6.8 billion dollars in 2020. To call comparison websites a big deal would be an understatement, especially considering the 1.4 billion international arrivals every year.

But, where did it all start? This is a multi-billion-dollar market that many people barely bat an eye at; how has it gotten to where it is today?

Well, our start goes back to 1995, with the creation of BargainFinder. Developed by the team at Andersen Consulting, which is now Accenture, BargainFinder compared prices between websites and showed which one was the best. 

While it was a rudimentary comparison website, it was still a surprise to the growing internet userbase, who realized that the market could be something big — and it was. Awareness quickly worldwide, and more comparison sites popped up.

So, while the 90s initially limited comparison sites to just eCommerce sites and electricity plans, they quickly spread into airline tickets, hotel rooms, insurance rates, investment options, phone bills, and more.

And, as the opportunities grew, so did the companies behind the market. Comparisons quickly skyrocketed leading into 2000, accelerating the addition of new websites and more companies. Competitors appeared daily, and billions flowed into everything before the tech bubble burst.

Suddenly, only the strongest were left to pick up the remains, collecting weakened but still quite alive competitors with multi-hundred-million-dollar deals. The hardened sites, like Booking, came from this burst, managing billions in revenue from a collection of sites.

And, the original players in the market quickly became the only ones, consolidating what was once a very spread out opportunity into just a few companies owned by Booking, Expedia, Google, and a few others. Google is particularly interesting, as it is the hands down, the largest search engine, all categories, by astronomical margins. However, they have recently introduced Google Flights, which does compete with companies like Booking and Expedia. Google also has features like Google shopping, which arguably catches the consumer´s desire to compare prices, while they are searching on Google, meaning that the consumer potentially does not even go further, to the comparison website. Therefore, Google profits directly, as opposed to the comparison website. The same concept is applicable to Google flights, which was just mentioned.

It took a multi-billion-dollar crash at the beginning of the turn of the century for everything to build into what it is today. While comparison sites were prominent before the collision, the roar back to life afterward made the entire market a steady grower, bringing the concept to whatever industry the sites can apply it toward.

So, thanks to some genius business moves and a few quick movers right before the turn of the century, these data-driven, intelligent comparison sites have managed to accomplish more than a few things. Not only do they help us all to travel at a slight discount, but they also bring billions in revenue to a market that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

AirBnB, Uber, Lyft and Bolt | The Growth of a Super Economy

The year is 2008 — the world’s housing economy has just crashed, and “everything” is left in ruins. Kind of.

While housing didn’t do very well during the late 2000s, one thing did: sharing apps. 

Part of the sharing economy, sharing apps give people access to a collaborative network of growing supply. While the term has come to envelop hundreds of markets worldwide, most know it in the form of travel, like in Airbnb, Uber, or Lyft.

But, we’re talking about the late 2000s, just a few years ago; how did sharing economies come to exist?


The truth is a few things made sharing economies an inevitability. The first is obvious. When the economic crisis fell, people could no longer splurge nearly as much before, and it became necessary for something big to split among more people.

In these cases, companies like Airbnb spring up. According to founder Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s 2008 founding came about by a lack of rooms to find for a conference, and visitors couldn’t find property to stay in.

So, Chesky and his friend rented out a room to let others stay in an apartment.

That concept brought the sharing economy to life, letting expensive purchases and necessities go to thousands of people who would rent it out a bit at a time.

After all, that’s also how Uber and Lyft came to be. The two companies offer cars and drivers for rent, allowing people to use something they wouldn’t be able to purchase upfront for a limited time and a limited cost.

And, well, it didn’t take long for that idea to catch in recession-heavy 2008. People worldwide didn’t have the money to spend on huge properties or new cars, so they quickly flocked to companies like Airbnb or Lyft, where they should use a shared item for a limited time.

Since then, the business of the sharing apps have evolved even further, with Uber getting into the industry of buses and trucks, and Bolt getting into the helicopter business. All of these ride sharing apps, mainly Uber, Lyft and Bolt, are expanding aggressively world wide.

Tesla: A Pioneer of Electric Vehicles and Direct-to-Consumer Car Retail

Tesla is a mammoth car company, having sold millions of cars since its start in 2003. Although leadership has changed over the years and the company has seen its market share fluctuate, there has always been a pioneering spirit and innovative force pushing Tesla forward, year after year. And, while some attribute it to CEO Elon Musk’s ingenuitive spirit and others to Tesla employees’ pure work ethic, there’s one thing that’s helped cement Tesla’s foothold in the mental electric vehicle market: bringing cars direct-to-consumer.

Direct-to-consumer, or D2C, isn’t necessarily innovative by itself. In fact, it’s not whatsoever. D2C corporations and retail models have existed for decades, connecting the production business directly with the end customer. Compared to B2C, which usually involves a third party connecting the business and the consumer, D2C goes directly to the end, skipping the third party and the issues down the middle.

And, for a car manufacturer, that’s huge.

The current, and usually only method for manufacturers to get their cars to their customers is through a dealership. These dealers purchase the cars, to then resell them in a process that’s bogged down by salesmen reputation, poor prices, hidden fees, and more. Additionally, since there’s a limited supply at a dealership, if you’re unlucky enough to be locked into purchasing the lsat of a car, there’s nothing you can do to prevent yourself from paying unreasonable prices.

However, that’s B2C. If you go the D2C route like Tesla, then suddenly things are cut differently. No longer are there hidden salesmen deals, profit gauging, revenue quotas, and poor seller reputation. Rather, there’s an open marketplace connecting Tesla to the end customer. Just from this step alone, Tesla has seen higher customer satisfaction, greater profits at a lower price, higher standards across the board, and a better consumer image.

That’s all thanks to the company’s innovative approach to selling, connecting production with a sale, exclusively via Tesla.com. The one website opens up Tesla to millions more than dealerships would ever, cutting the middlemen´s margin´s, shady techniques etc. Rather, everything is uniform and apparent, just one business and its customer, individualized on a platform that anyone can use.

And with these cut costs, Tesla has been able to push further into the electric vehicle market than most other competitors, gaining new entrances from the same space. Even thanks to just the D2C model, the company has higher net margins than most EV producers, can control the entire supply chain, and has led the pack in building a network strong enough to cut an entire party out, and still build Tesla to where it is today.