Creating a Technical Solution
Case Aims: To illustrate how developing a new solution provided the basis for creating a highly successful business The British entrepreneur James Dyson is motivated to find new technological solutions to known problems. In 1979 he purchased what was claimed to be the most powerful vacuum cleaner available but which, in his view, failed to deliver the promised benefit. Dyson recognised that the problem with conventional vacuum cleaners is that as the bag fills with dust, the suction power declines. Prompted by observing in an industrial sawmill a cyclonic separator for removing dust from the air, he believed the same concept could work in a vacuum cleaner. It was this idea which would eventually lead to the development of his world-beating invention, the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner (Anon 2006).
Developing the final product involved testing 5127 prototypes and took five years, during which his wife taught art to support the family. When he was finally satisfied he showed his prototype to makers of domestic appliances. They were not interested (Schaer 2015). Eventually he decided to start manufacturing the product himself. Once in production Dyson soon discovered the lack of interest among appliance manufacturers was matched by the same level of disinterest among major UK retailers. Hence he was only able to distribute the product through two mail order catalogues and a few small independent retailers. The breakthrough finally came in 1995 when Dyson achieved distribution in Comet, a large UK retailer. (McNamara 2015).