Kizito Okechukwu, the co-chairperson of GEN Africa. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - Simply put, lifestyle innovation is a way of transforming and improving our lives by marrying technology with needs-based solutions.

If we look back at the past 10 years or so, it’s clearly and quickly evident that simple and easy to use innovative technology is now all around us. There are helpful and informative smartphone apps for just about anything and for any age. Many large corporate brands are also embracing the lifestyle innovation model for their products or services.

Take Nike for example, the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel, and a major manufacturer of sports equipment. Although the brand began supplying strictly athletic gear, it has since expanded into accessories and clothing that fit into the overall subculture of the fitness lifestyle.

And then there's wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, marketed as the "the ultimate device for a healthy life" and Fitbit - which invites consumers to "find your fit with Fitbit’s family of fitness products that help you stay motivated and improve your health by tracking your activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep".

Our first 22 On Sloane Start-up Huddle delved into the trends and opportunities of lifestyle innovation. One of our residents recently developed and launched Mapha FoodShare, an app for people to post, sell, buy or share food with those in their neighbourhood.

Speaking to the audience, co-founder Loyiso Vatsha described lifestyle innovation as “creating ideas that change the way we do things”.

Behaviour

Enrico Ferigolli, an innovation technology entrepreneur and one of the speakers at the huddle, described lifestyle innovation as “creating a product or service that changes consumer behaviour”.

Now more often than not, the culture of drinking is associated with driving under the influence, but Ferigolli’s Bottles App brings the convenience and safety of ordering alcohol online and having it delivered to your door in 60 minutes. He used existing online platforms such as Uber, WhatsApp and Facebook to prove his business model's efficacy to consumers.

Another household brand name that positions its products and services using the lifestyle innovation model is Discovery. It created Vitality, a health programme which rewards its members for living a healthier lifestyle.

During the huddle, Andrew Le Roux, chief business transformation officer at MMI Holdings, stressed the “importance of creating a product or service that will solve a customers’ problem, help clients navigate complex environments and bring simplicity to their lives”.

Incentives

Through Vitality, Discovery has managed to solve its customer’s problem of paying high healthcare costs and has lowered their morbidity and mortality rate by offering them a health programme that allows them to receive financial incentives by means of rewards and discounts for living a healthier lifestyle.

The programme’s wellness system also offers members the ability to track their physical activities as well as their nutrition.

Lifestyle innovation is now a constantly growing and evolving global phenomenon, bringing with it many new opportunities for all business-minded people, including start-ups, to help improve and enhance our daily lives for the better.

On Thursday, our start-up huddle will focus on “using data to create a consumer-centric business strategy.” This will see guest huddlers such as Edith Vries, director general of the Department of Small Business Development, and Pali Lehohla, the former statistician-general and resident research adviser at 22 On Sloane, join Jamie Rood, the co-founder of Clockwork, one of our start-ups.

For more information on the next 22 On Sloane start-up huddle, visit: www.22onsloane.co

Kizito Okechukwu is co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network (Gen) Africa - 22 On Sloane, which supports start-ups in 42 Gen Africa countries.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

- BUSINESS REPORT