Introduction | HunchCruncher
HunchCruncher came about after people asked how we had the idea for the YikeBike, with the expectation that it was born close to its final form. We realised there is a huge difference between the initial hunch and the final product and we use the word “idea” to describe both. We wanted to be clear about the process of turning an initial hunch (idea) into something that makes an impact. A hunch crystalizes into a solution and crunching is the process that happens between the two - see the theory of hunchcrunching for more detail.
HunchCruncher is a mix of existing business models, but by way of explanation here is how they differ from what we do:
Business Incubators - tend to take in teams and nuture companies that have alteady crunched their hunch and are designed to help teams with the munching part of business.
Serial Entrepreneur – they tend to do fewer things and build them into large companies that they run themselves, and the focus is mainly on munching. We are specialists in the pre-start up phase, but are happy for our companies to grow, usually with the help of partners, investors, or licensers.
Serial Inventor – they tend to focus on creating lots of patents and licensing them rather than forming companies to develop brands and working out in detail how the innovation will be adopted. Also tend to be industry focused rather than process focused.
R&D Lab – tend to solve problems for other people and generally focus on technically complex problems.
Design House - tend to do designs for clients who have very specific design guidelines (already partly crunched) - we like to work on our own projects and do not do work for hire.
The closest concept we have seen to HunchCruncher is Idealab run by Bill Gross. Idealab have started 70 companies in 15 years which is truly impressive. We won't do that many. Idealab works in a different environment from where we choose to live (California has much better access to capital and experienced start-up people), so they can tackle a different range of opportunities. Our goal is not just to create companies but create what we call minimum viable innovations.
Other things that define the tiny sliver of business space that we love to play in:
- We prefer simplicity to complexity - we are simple folks after all...
- We love tackling problems in industries we know nothing about (initially anyway) - it's easier to add a creative insight
- We prefer projects that are not in trendy highly competitive areas – no iPad or Facebook apps here... (of course we don’t mind if they become trendy after we have started)
- We prefer projects with high IP content – if it wasn’t for patents we would not be able to justify the money and time we spend on R&D
- We prefer low capital intensive projects – electric bike yes – electric car no
- We prefer global opportunities over local ones – global opportunities are just more interesting
- Business has to be done from Christchurch, New Zealand because that’s where we love to live. Christchurch is known for eco-tourism, software, design and niche manufacturing, rather than nuclear or military technology.
- Have to be good for the environment – not because we are raving tree huggers but there are just lots of opportunities being clean.
- We love the process of rapid prototyping and are big believers in lots of quick trials as part of the development process. Playing with new prototypes is a creative thrill.
In some ways HunchCruncher is “thrashing ahead of the wave” because we are in the game of guessing what the next new thing will be and creating it. There is no guarantee the wave will come so we risk looking a bit silly – but that is the nature of what we choose to do – and we may get a few right.
The last point Grant makes in this TED talk ("Some Odd Things About Bold New Ideas") is where the seeds for HunchCruncher came from. Grant doesn't feel that he articulates it so well, but the point is that big ideas don't typically fall out of nowhere but start as a hunch that then gets played with over time. This poorly articulated version has been a hunch in itself, that we have crunched over time to become the clearer vision of HunchCruncher.
See Hunch Crunching theory for more details.