'Foolish' Small Business Idea: Invented The James Dyson vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner without a dust bag that wouldn't clog and push the dirt around, instead of picking it up.
Start-up Capital: Retaining the patent, James Dyson raised money for research and production by selling licences in Japan.
How small business idea was launched: The Dyson Dual Cyclone was launched in 1993. James started his own company, Dyson, which has become one of the fastest growing manufacturing companies in the country.
Sales: First sold in Japan as the 'G Force', produced in pastel pink, it became a luxury status symbol, selling at £1,200 per machine. Currently making sales of £12million a year in Japan.
Sales are made through all major stores.
Earnings: The company, Dyson, turns over £100million. (around yr2000)
James Dyson is a former art student who didn't know a ball-bearing from a ballpoint pen, but still set out to invent a vacuum that would revolutionise cleaning our homes. Not a qualified engineer, James didn't even have an O level in physics. Yet, he invented the first vacuum cleaner which discarded the bag and replaced it with a little typhoon that spun at the speed of sound, in a chamber that couldn't clog.
James Dyson is a keen enthusiast on the importance of a good looking product with an intangible style, which sets that product apart. The Dual Cyclone is uniquely on permanent display at both the Science Museum and the Design Museum, and in the Twentieth Century Gallery at the V and A museum.
James's personal success steps:
Observing objects in daily use, which it was always assumed could not be improved. Using lateral thinking, it is possible to arrive at an advance. There's no need to worry about not being an expert - after the idea there's plenty of time to learn the technology. The first cyclonic vacuum cleaner James built, was out of cereal packets and masking tape, long before he understood how it worked.
Retaining the patent, he tried to raise money for research and then production, by selling licences to America and Japan. The Japanese market was a success, with the machine being sold as the 'G Force' and produced in pastel pink, it became a luxury status symbol selling at £1,200 per machine.
America was not a success, because after a licence agreement was terminated, a gargantuan manufacturer began production and marketing a cyclonic vacuum cleaner under its own name. James took out a lawsuit and fought against the company for five years.
James Dyson took his small business idea, from a cereal box and masking tape, to the instantly recognisable, stylish Dyson Dual Cyclone cleaner. Now, James heads his company, Dyson, which is turning over £100 million. James Dyson vacuum cleaners are known worldwide.
Extra note: James Dyson has written a book of his personal story behind the invention, the Dyson Dual Cyclone which I recommend you read. Title: Against the Odds.