UK: The Next Billion Dollar Idea

Big Things Have Small Beginnings
Last Updated: 27 January 2015
Article by Deloitte Corporate Finance Group

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

In 2008, Arun Ganesh, a Chennai-based information design student, was frustrated by the lack of accurate bus route maps or timetables and decided to take the matter into his own hands.1,2 Mapping Chennai's bus routes can be daunting. It is India's fourth largest city, spread over 426 square kilometres, and on average five million passengers use more than 800 different bus routes.3 Arun and his fellow students came up with a simple but innovative solution to solve the problem: they crowdsourced the data pertaining to bus routes from daily commuters. Less than a week after setting up the platform, they were able to map most of Chennai's bus network.4 The crowdsourced maps were not only more accurate, they also unearthed a host of information on the city's infrastructure that has proved of huge value to city planners.

Around the same time in Israel a small start-up called Waze began using crowdsourcing to collect and relay routing and traffic information in real time to daily commuters. The well-established start-up ecosystem in Israel allowed Waze to secure venture capital funding and rapidly expand globally. The live route updates proved to be an instant hit and Waze quickly amassed 50 million users. This attracted the attention of Google, who in 2013 acquired them for $1 billion.5

Ideas have always travelled rapidly and digitisation continues to make the world increasingly borderless, which means ideas now travel faster and further than ever before. In recent years, the pace of technological advancement has been unprecedented and its disruptive potential is further amplified by crowdsourcing emerging as a business model and an abundance of capital ready to fund innovative ideas. The confluence of these three factors is unleashing a wave of innovation across the globe. This means that the next billion dollar idea is as likely to come from a workshop in Tel Aviv or a bus stop in Chennai as it is a garage in Silicon Valley.

This gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to access capital and talent to realise their ideas on a global scale. It also gives the corporate sector an opportunity to pursue growth through innovation by developing new products and services that cut across traditional market boundaries. Equally, the pace of technological advancement means both entrepreneurs and corporates could get caught out by newer technologies that can make products and services rapidly redundant.

The aim of this report is to highlight the changing market dynamics fuelling this wave of innovation and also offer recommendations on how the corporate sector could harness external innovation to realise their growth ambitions. In subsequent reports we will address the challenges of integrating innovation into the complex environment of multinational companies.

Changing market dynamics

Technology advancement and adoption

The widespread adoption of technology has been possible because of the sustained drop in cost and increase in performance of key technologies such as computing power, data bandwidth and data storage. This has shifted the balance in favour of the innovator. The average cost to set-up a start-up company in the late 1990s was estimated at $5 million. However, with the breakthroughs in technology, platform-based delivery and collaborative ecosystems, the cost is now estimated at $65,000.6,7

The rise of the smartphone encapsulates the falling cost of technological advancements best. A Huffington Post columnist recently highlighted a 1991 advertisement for RadioShack that listed all the latest devices, ranging from a portable CD player to a VHS Camcorder. He estimated that back in 1991 it would have cost nearly $3,000 to buy all the devices that today are bundled in a smartphone which costs just $250 on average.8

Whereas it took the landline over 100 years to reach a billion users, it took the internet just 14 years. The smartphone has outpaced both taking just eight years to reach that milestone.

The pace of technology obsolescence and the decrease in cost is well documented, but it is the potent combination of increasing functionality and widespread adoption that makes the smartphone a powerful tool to deliver new innovative services. Companies as disparate as Nest Labs, in home automation, Uber, in travel services and Square, in payment transactions, all use smartphones as the medium to deliver their services.

This widespread adoption also allows developing market countries to 'leapfrog' generations of infrastructure investment. In India, an estimated 904 million people have mobile phones, which means more people have a mobile phone than access to clean water on a regular basis.9 An Indian social start-up called NextDrop is using the mobile network to connect people with clean water by creating a smart grid system that helps distribute water more efficiently.10

The crowd and impact of collaborative networks

The widespread adoption of the internet allows innovators to unlock the full potential of a connected world since they have access to scale, diversity and multiplicity of viewpoints. Crowdsourcing is one such innovative model that has emerged as a result. In theory it is feasible that every major service could have a crowdsourced alternative. Crowdsourcing is also driving new sets of behaviours where sharing and collaboration are fast becoming the norm. This in itself present opportunities to create new market offerings.

Crowdsourcing is broadly evolving into the following three business models:

Peers over corporates

In this model the peer group is both the supplier and consumer of services and products, bypassing the corporate sector as the traditional supplier. Most industries seem to have their own version of peer-to-peer service innovation. The most popular is Airbnb, founded in 2008. At its current rate of growth it is on course to be the world's largest hotelier by 2015.11

Peer-to-peer lending is a new dynamic that is disrupting the traditional banking sector. Companies like Lending Club, Funding Circle and Zopa are directly connecting lenders with borrowers. It is estimated that this peer-to-peer lending model will raise $8.8 billion by the end of 2014.12

Access over ownership

Access over ownership is a business model where people share products and services, instead of owning them outright. This uncouples the value of products or services from ownership. For instance, Lyft, a ridesharing company based in San Francisco, is revitalising the informal car-pooling arrangement by turning it into a mainstream transportation network.

Collaboration over competition

Since the early days of the internet, distributed computing projects such as SETI@ home have enabled volunteers to collaborate. Wikipedia is perhaps the most famous and successful collaboration project. Many of these projects are now offering credible alternatives to well established services. For instance, OpenStreetMap (OSM), a global collaborative project started in the UK in 2004, offers free editable maps of the world by crowdsourcing the data.13,14 OSM is harnessing the power of the collective to map places ranging from inaccessible regions to countries that have not given private companies permission to map their territory. OSM has grown to 1.5 million registered editors and is emerging as a credible alternative to other popular street maps, despite having an annual maintenance cost of just $100,000.15 Recently Telenav, a wireless location service company, made a significant investment in OSM and are planning to integrate the OSM maps into their mobile navigation system.16

To read the article in full click here.


1 "Information is Beautiful hacks in India with David Cameron", The Guardian, July 30, 2010.

2 See

3 See

4 See

5 "Waze sale signals new growth for Israeli high tech", Yahoo News, June 12, 2013.

6 It's morning in VC, Upfront Ventures, June 29, 2014.

7 See

8 See

9 See,14.pdf

10 "How mobile phones help bring water to India's thirsty", The Guardian, August 2, 2013.

11 See

12 See

13 See

14 See

15 See

16 See sdk/

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.