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Innovate With Existing Products

Looking to innovate on a concept that already exists? Ordinary products get new life when they find the perfect blend of form and function.

This story appears in the May 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

A stapler that staples up to 60 pages with even the lightest touch of a pinkie finger, a transparent tea tin lid that keeps out damaging UV light, a diaper bag that's runway-ready--they all point to one trend: In even the most seemingly ordinary product categories, there's room for extraordinary design innovation.

"I looked at the stapler market and [saw that] there hadn't been any functional changes in over 100 years," says Todd Moses, founder of Newtown, Pennsylvania, office products company Accentra Inc.Moses' core product, the PaperPro, packs the power of a staple gun into an otherwise traditional, nonelectric, sleek-looking line of staplers. The response has been astounding. "We've grabbed 20 percent market share in two years," says Moses, 32, whose "aha!" moment happened when his stapler jammed before an important meeting--and he chucked the stapler against the wall. Founded in 2003, Accentra now sells millions of units per year in more than 100 countries and has sales well into the eight figures. Retailers selling the PaperPro have seen a 30 percent increase in stapler sales.

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