“Better Mouse Trap” is a common metaphor for an innovation that is an insignificant improvement relative to prior common products. Venture investors normally seek an earth shattering, out of the box, new paradigm, game changers ideas. A 20% improvement on an automobile mileage will be probably considered as a “better mouse trap”. An automobile that can fly over a traffic jam is a “game changer”.
A mouse trap that catches 20% more mice is a “better mouse trap”. However, in business “different is better than better”. Let’s look at few ideas that will carve new business opportunities in the mice fighting front.
Example1: Emotional Appeal.
Often emotional appeal goes a long way beyond the functionally of the product. People pay high premiums to be seen driving a $100K vehicle that takes them to their destinations as efficiently as a $20K automobile. How about a mouse trap robot with IoT + AI + blockchain technology that will study the mice behavior in the house and move itself around the floor to optimize the probability of catching a mouse. One more cool feature is a camera that will transmit the activity via the internet so you can watch its action in real time on your mobile device.. Now we are talking about a different mouse trap. Why? Because technology gadget freaks will buy it for the “gadget value”.. This is called emotional differentiation because it appeals to the customer at a none-functional level.
Example2: Orthogonal Differentiation.
An orthogonal differentiation will be one that solves the same problem (mice infestation) in a totally different approach. Instead of a mouse trap think about a mice repellant. A repellant could be noise based, electromagnetic based, chemical based, or maybe a large video screen that plays mean cats all the time. This method may attract many people at emotional levels as well. Countless people hate to kill animals and thus a mice repellant will appeal to them better that a killer mouse trap. Furthermore, similar to the previous example, there is also the “gadget value” that some people may like. Same as with security systems, or insurance policies, some people may buy it even before they have a mice problem, as a preventive risk mitigation measure.
Example3: A different Business Model.
UBER did not invent the GPS nor the automobile. They combined these two existing technologies to offer a new service model. Instead of dealing with what mouse trap to buy, you invite a pest control service to deal with the problem. There are at least two common models here: One is ad-hoc, you call the pest control service provider when you have a problem and they charge you a one-time fee to deal with it. Charge may be a one-time flat fee to deal with the single episode, or, a charge per mouse caught. The second model is an ongoing monthly fee model where the service provider will install all the required equipment to protect your home or facility from a pest problem to occur.
To summarize, Do not hesitate to address existing problems with a fresh thinking approach that will add significant value on top of the simple straight forward solution.