North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

The age of the disruptive entrepreneur

Posted on: July 22, 2019
The age of the disruptive entrepreneur

Read any article about a tech-based service that’s taken off in the past few years, and you’re likely to see it described as ‘disruptive’. Businesses need disruptors to survive. Companies need people who will question how things are done, innovate, lead the charge, and create something entirely new. While some entrepreneurs enter new markets by offering less functional products they can sell cheaper than existing offerings, hoping to build up their customer bases and technological capabilities before industry leaders take notice, disruptive entrepreneurs create better products right from the start.

As industries undergo transformation, they pass through interim stages. If you understand where an industry is headed, you can position yourself to pounce when the real disruption becomes both possible and cost-effective. That’s what disruptive entrepreneurs do. When Netflix launched its DVD-by-mail service, its founders soon saw a future where entertainment on demand would be fully digital, using the cloud and broadband networks to send content wherever and whenever it was wanted . Video rental chains, on the other hand, couldn’t see beyond the limits of the mail-order service, grossly underestimating the threat to their core business. By the time networks became fast enough to handle video, Netflix was ready to transition. The video retail chains weren’t ready, which saw the end of household names like Blockbuster.

Disruptors bide their time. When Wikipedia launched in 2001, nobody would have predicted it would have the potential to overthrow Encyclopedia Britannica; in fact, this didn’t happen for another decade. Disruptors don’t always change the market immediately; it can take years, and sometimes decades, to reach the top. Understanding disruption isn’t just about knowing how to generate better ideas; it’s also about being defensive, and looking out for new competition that might disrupt your industry in the future. While Amazon’s Jeff Bezos didn’t invent the idea of electronic books, the success of Kindle came down to perfect timing. From a decade of research and looking at others’ failings, Amazon learned what was still needed in terms of displays, battery, processors and mobile networks before a winning combination could be built. Then, as soon as everything came together at the right price, it released its now best selling product.

Disruptive businesses also conduct seemingly random market experiments. While in-house experimentation gives you total control over the design and ownership of new products, it also saddles you with all the costs and risks. Crowdsourced research and development might give away the element of surprise, but the value realised and insights gained from direct interaction with real users more than outweighs this risk. Today, disruptive entrepreneurs use fund-raising services including Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Rockethub to not only find their early users but also to collaborate with them on everything from market research to design and customer service, all before even producing a single item.

Social networks and mobile devices are revolutionising marketing and many disruptive entrepreneurs use these to anticipate success, for example taking a tradition focus group and giving it a modern twist by sending the beta product to influencers who will share their thoughts about it with their online audience . Increasingly, consumers listen primarily to other consumers, quickly and effectively showing new products and services to either be successes or total flops, and disruptive entrepreneurs use this information to anticipate demand. Xiaomi, a fast-growing Chinese smartphone brand, has learned to manage catastrophic success by selling most of its products directly and by limiting supply for each batch of production. Not only does this elevate its brand, it also builds excitement for whatever the company announces next, so the firm can lead rather than follow.

While you may not be in the market to create the next Kindle or mobile phone, you can learn how to protect yourself against future industry disruptors and how to devise more competitive solutions to keep your business thriving. Designed for those who are looking to build their own business or fast-track their career with a deeper understanding of business and leadership skills, Wrexham University’s Masters of Business Administration degree covers key business disciplines including marketing, finance, strategy and human resource management, developing practical and theoretical business leadership skills.

The 100% online MBA has been designed to enable you to study at your own pace, on your own terms, and around your current role. With six start dates a year, you can start within weeks. There are flexible payment options and postgraduate government loans to cover the full programme cost, for those that are eligible.

For more, information, or to apply, visit