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Nick Skillicorn

CEO & Founder, Innovation Coach at Improvides
Voted as the world's #7 Innovation blogger in 2014, I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love.

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Nick Skillicorn
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The Flow Hive beekeeping system

I fell in love with the simplicity and effectiveness of this new innovation, which redesigns a beehive so making honey is effortless

Every now and again, so see something so logical that you ask yourself “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?”

Today I just saw an amazing innovation which I just had to share with you.

It’s about honey.

And beehives.

Stuart and Cedar Anderson invented Flow

Stuart and Cedar Anderson invented Flow

The problem with most beehives is that bees store their honey in thousands of little hexagonal honeycomb cells, like little holes in a wall. In order to extract the honey, you need to remove the frames, cut off the end caps of the cells and then spin the frame in a centrifuge to push out the liquid honey. It’s hard work, disturbs and kills a lot of the bees, and takes a long time.

So the father-and-son team of Stuart and Cedar Anderson from Australia wanted to see if there was a simpler, faster way to extract the honey, and they eventually developed the Flow Hive. They needed to raise some money to put their new design into production, so they launched it on IndieGoGo, looking for $70,000.

Within five days, they have already raised more than $3,400,000, making it one of the most successful crowdfunding ventures to date.

If you watch the video or the Gif at the top of this page, you’ll see that the design splits the hexagonal honeycombs vertically, so that the honey inside flows downwards between the gaps. It turn a beehive into honey-on-tap.

It’s genius!

But there’s also some important innovation lessons which everyone can learn from these two apiarists:

  1.  Innovation success doesn’t come overnight: Yes, these guys have now made millions of dollars in a couple of days (they’re still figuring out how they’re going to mass-manufacture the thousands of units). But they have been working on designing the system for more than 10 years. Often, the final breakthrough design requires a huge number of imperfect, failed experiments beforehand. Sometimes the final design is a gradual evolution from these failures (or just from previous versions). Other times, like here, the insights gained from previous iterations can trigger a moment of insight which results in a radical change of direction. But both situations don’t happen overnight.
  2. Innovation is not just about technology: This design doesn’t contain any software. It doesn’t contain nanotechnology, wireless communication or remote controls via an app. It’s just a supremely simple physical design that is meant to do one thing extremely well. And that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. In today’s world, too many people think that innovation is driven primarily in Silicon Valley or other Tech hubs in the world. There’s just as much innovation in a design like this, that someone could have designed on paper and prototyped in plywood in their shed.
  3. Innovation is about addressing a specific problem: In reality, innovation is all about turning an idea into a solution which provides value to a customer, and in this case dozens of thousands of people immediately saw the value because it’s so simple. So much innovation effort nowadays goes into developing things which are new and different, and (makes me cringe) disruptive, without necessarily addressing any challenge which people actually have. Instead, if you try to understand the challenge someone is really facing, you’re much more likely to come up with a solution which directly addresses it.

What do you think of Stuart and Cedar’s innovation? Let me know in the comments below.