My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

Business Ideas

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

These 20 innovative businesses are doing well in their respective markets, but they could also thrive in South Africa.
20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)
Image credit: Bigstock
Entrepreneur Staff
Sales Enablement - Content Developer
18 min read

Are you looking for an innovative business idea that already has a track-record, but doesn’t currently operate in the South African market. These 20 innovative businesses have proven to be profitable in their markets; why not be the one to introduce something similar to South Africa?

  1. TaskRabbit
  2. MoviePass
  3. Activity bars
  4. Startups Anonymous
  5. Vegan Meat And Dairy Alternatives
  6. Narrative Clip
  7. Carbon Green Cards
  8. E-bikes 
  9. Translation and language platform
  10. Healthy vending machines
  11. Green/off-grid living
  12. Bringing the seasons to South Africa
  13. Niche pet services
  14. Hangover Helpers
  15. Special Needs Dating Site
  16. Second-hand Children’s Clothing
  17. Online Valuation Services
  18. ‘Anger Rooms’ to smash stuff with a sledge hammer
  19. BreathingRoom
  20. Discounted Eating Out
20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

1. TaskRabbit

1. TaskRabbit
Image credit: Bigstock

TaskRabbit is a community marketplace for errands and smaller tasks. Users post a task and say how much they’ll pay someone to complete it. Another willing user accepts the task and gets paid for doing it.

Why this is an innovative idea:

TaskRabbit continues to gain momentum in the United States and is creating an on-demand workforce. This app creates jobs and supplemental income. Just like teenagers and students babysit in their free time, people can now run errands in their free time and get paid.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything needing to be done. What if, while you were at work you could pay someone to run your errands, leaving you more downtime and time to spend with your family?

This app would enable unemployed individuals to earn an income by doing several small tasks every day.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

2. MoviePass

2. MoviePass
Image credit: Bigstock

MoviePass offers cinema-goers the opportunity to pay a monthly fee to attend as many movies as they want.

Why this is an innovative idea:

This helps consumers to save money while enjoying the latest movies. It also assists cinemas that are having trouble getting people in seats, and earning a percentage of the monthly fee to ensure income is always flowing in.

The innovative platform also collects data on consumers giving the cinema industry more insights into who is visiting their locations.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

When prices go up, the entertainment budget is the first to go. By launching this in South Africa you’ll enable consumers to continue to go to movies. Cinemas will earn a reduced income, but some income is better than no income.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

3. Activity Bars

3. Activity Bars
Image credit: Big Stock

This growing trend is making big waves across the world. Whether it’s a bar, bowling alley combo, or a speakeasy-style gaming parlour, consumers are looking for a more engaging experience on their night out.

Why this is an innovative idea:

The younger generations are looking for an engaging experience they’ll never forget, why don’t you be the one to offer it to them? Around the world, markets are offering all sorts of innovative new activity bar ideas.

An alternative could be cat cafés, these have been popular in Taiwan and Japan for years, but this concept is steadily spreading around the world. This innovative business idea enables consumers to sip tea while petting the resident cats.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

Creating an experience for the growing young adult population can be profitable, if done right. Offer them an activity combined with a bar in an interesting way and become the new hot spot in town. Incorporating an activity into your bar can be a way to revitalise it and ensure consumers stay long after the last round.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

4. Startups Anonymous

4. Startups Anonymous
Image credit: Bigstock

Like Alcoholics Anonymous, but for start-ups. This is a platform that entrepreneurs can use to anonymously vent frustration and fears, as well as asking questions and getting help.

“I think that people have spent so much time over the past eight years trying to build their ideal image and impress people that anonymity is a welcome relief,” says co-founder Dana Severson. “It’s the equivalent of taking off your skinny jeans at the end of the day and putting on sweats.”

Why this is an innovative idea:

In its first two months the site achieved more than 130 000 unique visitors, and 700 submissions and responses from users, showing that there is a definite demand for this concept within the entrepreneurial space.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

Emphasis is placed on the entrepreneurial space to increase economic growth and create jobs. However, guidance and answers without judgement can assist the industry in launching, building and growing new businesses.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

5. Vegan Meat And Dairy Alternatives

5. Vegan Meat And Dairy Alternatives
Image credit: Bigstock

Have you noticed the surge in veganism lately? This is a unique market with potential for imitation products. If you can develop vegan cheese and meat alternatives that taste great and work well in cooking, you could be successful. You’ll need to develop vegan cheese that melts properly, vegan burgers with a juicy bite, or vegan milk that doesn’t curdle in coffee. 

Why this is an innovative idea:

JUST a San Francisco-based company has developed a formulation for its egg-like ‘Beyond Eggs’. Not only can manufacturers use this alternative for a cost of 18% less than real eggs, but it will help to alleviate the environmental challenges associated with chicken-egg production. This innovative food-tech company has attracted some high-profile supporters, including Bill Gates.

JUST already sells its mayonnaise made from pea protein in Whole Foods Market stores and is currently in talks to expand. They have plans to create scrambled-egg and cookie dough next.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

South Africa has a growing vegetarian and vegan community who could purchase your imitation products if they were good quality and offered more alternative options. You may even export them to other markets as the demand for vegan-friendly meals continues to grow internationally.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

6. Narrative Clip

6. Narrative Clip
Image credit: Unknown

Narrative Clip is an innovative business that offers it’s users the ability to remember every little interaction they’ve ever had. They do this by using a small camera that clips to the front of your shirt and snaps two images a minute all day long. This concept makes it possible for users to replay moments they’ve shared with loved ones, even years later.

Why this is an innovative idea:

The Narrative Clip can hold 4 000 photos and maintains a charge for two days. It raised USD550 000 on Kickstarted when it initially launched, and it has expanded into 50 countries, showing that there is definitely a demand and interest in the product.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

Narrative Clips co-founder Oskar Kalmaru says that they don’t have a specific demographic, but they see the product used most by people who tend to take a lot of photos, such as travellers and parents.

“You can capture your moments effortlessly without interrupting them with technology, you can use compatible apps which will organise your photos nicely for you,” says Kalmaru.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

7. Carbon Green Cards

7. Carbon Green Cards
Image credit: Bigstock

Gwangju, South Korea is an innovator when it comes to carbon emissions reduction. Residents are issued “carbon green cards” that track their energy use with sensors.

Why this is an innovative idea:

Households that participate can redeem the cards for rewards including:

  • Discounts on household goods.
  • Admissions at national parks.

This initiative currently relies on financial incentives to alter consumer behaviour, but officials emphasise that citizens are also motivated by a desire to help their community and the environment.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

South Africa is currently undergoing an environmental transformation as retailers reduce their one-use plastics and businesses implement strategies to reduce their impact on the environment. This initiative would be supported by many businesses and individuals alike, wanting to contribute to reduced carbon emissions.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

8. E-bikes

8. E-bikes
Image credit: Unknown

Electric bicycles are growing in popularity across the world as people try to reduce their reliance on cars. E-bike sales are expected to reach 50 million units in 2018.

Why this is an innovative idea:

“Our goal at Riide is to replace car ownership with electric bikes for short commutes,” explains co-founder, Amber Wason.

“In 2012, when I met my co-founder, there were 200 million e-bikes on the roads in China – with more being sold than cars. We found this out and were taken aback, it was an emerging technology trend in the US but not one that was being talked about – there was a gap in the market,” she explains.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

People are looking for travel alternatives that are reliable and won’t cost them a fortune. If you consider how many hills there are in South Africa an e-bike would be a much better option for many people than the traditional bicycle. You could sell e-bikes and kits to ‘electrify’ traditional bicycles.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

9. Translation and language platform

9. Translation and language platform
Image credit: Bigstock

If you’ve ever used Google translate to translate a South African language you’ll know there’s definitely room for improvement. Cross-lingual communication has generated an opportunity for translators of all kinds.

Why this is an innovative idea:

The need for and hiring of translators is projected to grow by 46% over the next 15 years as the world becomes more connected.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA: 

Who better to have a translating app or platform that translates South African languages, than a South African? If you have a gift for languages, or you can launch a business that brings together the expertise of various foreign-language speakers, you can create a successful business.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

10. Healthy vending machines

10. Healthy vending machines
Image credit: Unknown

This health food trend is growing across the world as corporations attempt to give their employees a healthy, convenient option.

Why this is an innovative idea:

The healthy vending machine business has grown to USD42 billion, but for significantly less you can own a single machine or a franchise that supports corporations all over the city. This is also, for the most part, a form of passive income, which is important to have when building wealth.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

Healthy vending machines are an easy way for companies to help their staff stay healthy without it costing them a fortune. A growing percentage of South Africans are trying to be healthy and increasing the amount of effort they put into caring for their health, which gives this business idea a growing demand.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

11. Green/off-grid living

11. Green/off-grid living
Image credit: Bigstock.com

Building materials that reduce pollution and waste are gaining momentum as everyone looks to be more environmentally conscious. People all over the world are turning to options such as: Green living, off-grid living, shipping containers and tiny homes.

Why this is an innovative idea:

Off-grid living has increased in popularity in recent years, with a rising interest in energy efficient products contributing to growth within the sector. Sustainable building materials currently amount to a USD36.1 billion industry and is expected to grow 10.6% annually until 2020.

BioMason is an innovative start-up that developed construction bricks without using heat, and The Daily Prep provides courses on alternative energy/off-grid living.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

As South Africans attempt to reduce water and electricity costs they will look to alternatives such as green and off-grid living. There is also a growing emphasis on sustainable building practices and energy efficient buildings throughout the country. You could capitalise on this.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

12. Bringing the seasons to South Africa

12. Bringing the seasons to South Africa
Image credit: Unknown

In 2015, Kyle Waring launched his innovative business called Ship Snow, Yo! This is a Boston-based business that sends snow anywhere in the US. They even supply a ready-made snowman.

Why this is an innovative idea:

In its first 48 hours of operation it received 135 orders, and according to Waring the business generates a five-figure turnover. “Last year, for Christmas, we delivered a ‘White Christmas’ to over 80 homes in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California and even New York City,” says Waring.

They have launched a sister venture, ShipFoliage.com, that sends New England leaves around the world for those who want to play in Autumn leaves all year round.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

South Africa hardly sees snow except in a few key places once or twice a year. You could offer a taste of all the fun that comes with a colder climate and none of the challenges. Authentic season themed events could grow your customer base and increase your profits.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

13. Niche pet services

13. Niche pet services
Image credit: Unknown

The pet industry continues to go from strength-to-strength. By 2019, it’s expected to hit USD92 billion, and innovative start-ups across the world are offering niche products to capture a piece of that growing market.

Why this is an innovative idea:

Bird Tricks teaches customers how to train their parrots. Their revenue comes from in-person and online courses, bird equipment, and bird food. Susan Garrett at Dog Agility teaches agility training for dogs. She makes the majority of her profits through in-person workshops and courses.

ToiletTrainedCat trains cats to use the toilet and generates a large profit via their training system books and DVDs, which people around the world can buy online.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

South Africans love their pets just as much as any other nation. Create your own niche products, which you can offer in-person or online. Develop training manuals, videos or offer a continuous stream of helpful tips that people can pay to subscribe to.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

14. Hangover Helpers

14. Hangover Helpers
Image credit: Bigstock

Here’s the situation: You and your friends were up all-night having a great time. Now, you’re suffering from a hangover, you’re dehydrated, and your home is a mess. The thought of having to make yourself something to eat and then clean up that colossal mess is just too much to handle. That’s where this innovative business idea comes in.

Why this is an innovative idea:

Two college guys from Colorado came up with this innovative business idea. They help their hungover clients by offering breakfast and cleaning up the mess left behind by last nights frivolities. Their service includes washing dishes and collecting all bottles and rubbish.

If you think this idea is just too crazy to actually work, these entrepreneurs have been featured in Forbes Magazine and have had multiple TV appearances. They also have a branch in Australia with the idea continuing to catch on around the world.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

Students and adults alike can get carried away and are happy to pay for someone else to clean-up the mess the next morning, South Africa is no different. All you need is a quick breakfast option and a cleaning crew to minimise the damage from the festivities the night before, and you’ll have enough clients to keep you busy and profitable. 

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

15. Special Needs Dating Site

15. Special Needs Dating Site
Image credit: Unsplash

As people with special needs and mental disabilities grow older they may find it challenging to meet people in their age group and ability level. Numerous special needs dating sites exist around the world offering dating and companionship to help these people to find friends and romantic partners with the same type of special needs.

Why this is an innovative idea:

The romantic aspect of life for people with special needs can be overlooked. Adults of every ability level have the desire to love and be loved, to make friends and seek companionship. Michael Robbins and Lauren Ellis created Special Bridge to help support the special needs community. They found when conducting research that there was virtually no sites dedicated to special needs dating for people to meet like-minded people.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

In South Africa this community deserves to find love and happiness, why shouldn’t you be the one to develop a meeting place for them?

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

16. Second-hand Children’s Clothing

16. Second-hand Children’s Clothing
Image credit: Unknown

You can collect and sell like-new second-hand children’s clothing to parents who can’t really afford to constantly be replacing their child’s entire wardrobe every few months when they grow out of new clothes.

Why this is an innovative idea:

In 2014, an online store, called Changeroo, launched to sell used, like-new children’s clothing. “We provide high quality, top name brand clothing at low prices as an alternative to buying cheaply made ‘fast-fashion’. We sell our clothing at 75% off the new ticket price and offer store credits in exchange for pre-loved children’s clothing in perfect condition. Items that do not meet the stipulated quality standards are donated to charity,” says founder Liane Guimond. 

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

Children outgrow their clothing so quickly, especially when they’re young. You can offer a solution by accepting clothing in exchange for store credits to shop for a new wardrobe. This will save parents the cost of having to buy a whole new wardrobe for their children every few months.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

17. Online Valuation Services

17. Online Valuation Services
Image credit: Igor Miske

Offer an online art, antique and collectibles valuation service to people across the country. Launching an online valuation service means you will not need to invest in a customer facing team or offices as everyone conducts their valuations online.

Why this is an innovative idea:

ValueMyStuff provides online valuation services to customers, who pay a flat fee of GBP7.50 per item. Within 48 hours of the request one of 60 experts provide an online valuation report. Since its launch, ValueMyStuff has facilitated over 100 000 valuations to more than 52 000 customers with a total estimate value of GBP102 million.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

You can evaluate customers items from all over the country by using this online concept. This will be more convenient for customers and ensure you increase your volume of valuations. This opportunity is profitable and currently doesn’t exist in South Africa.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

18. ‘Anger Rooms’ to smash stuff with a sledge hammer

18. ‘Anger Rooms’ to smash stuff with a sledge hammer
Image credit: Italy Anger Room

Unless you’re a Rockstar from the 80’s and 90’s it’s probably not the best idea to break things when you’re upset, either at home, at work or in a hotel room. But the temptation is there, destroying things is strangely therapeutic. What if people paid you to smash things? Now they can.

Why this is an innovative idea:

The concept began in Japan before expanding to the US and then Poland. These Anger Rooms supply their customers with numerous implements of destruction such as sledge hammers, and then let them loose for a specific amount of time determined by their price of admission.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

You can open a space for South Africans to vent their frustration by punching, pummelling or completely destroying whatever’s in the room with whatever they can get their hands on.

In Poland, the going rate is R550 for 30 minutes of venting and destruction.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

19. BreathingRoom

19. BreathingRoom
Image credit: Bigstock

BreathingRoom offers on-demand hourly workspaces to professionals and travelling business people for meetings and conferences. Rooms can be booked via the app even 15 minutes prior to the meetings.

Why this is an innovative idea:

Started by two ex-Amazonians Kaushal Sanghavi and Jacky Chow; they had no idea this business idea would attract customers under the most peculiar situations. A hearing at the Bombay High Court was delayed by three hours and some professionals booked one of the breathing rooms to use the bathroom and to catch-up on work. Sanghavi is also rolling out OpenSpaces in bars, restaurants and cafes, from which users can work for free when they’re less busy.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

This business ideas offers you the opportunity to use un-utilised or under-utilised commercial spaces across the country at an affordable cost. You can offer a subscription model to keep money coming in and allow your customer-base easy access no matter where they are.

20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)

20. Discounted Eating Out

20. Discounted Eating Out
Image credit: Bigstock

Delhi-based Kartik Saboo launched an online food discount venture, Khaugalideals.com, that restaurants can subscribe to and can target advertising to people in specific areas.

Why this is an innovative idea:

This venture gives people discounts of up to 70% in restaurants, bars, and even ice-cream parlours throughout India. Saboo approached restaurant owners to explain how his website worked. To put up a discount offer on the site, an F&B outlet had to pay a one-time registration fee of R300. Saboo currently earns around R120 000 a month from this online venture.

Why this innovative idea should be brought to SA:

South Africans are feeling the pinch as prices go up. Why not offer them a way to reduce the cost of going out and enjoying eating out. This will also benefit the restaurants who will have some income as opposed to no income.

  • 20 Innovative Business Ideas Doing Well Overseas (That Could Make You Money In SA)
  • 1. TaskRabbit
  • 2. MoviePass
  • 3. Activity Bars
  • 4. Startups Anonymous
  • 5. Vegan Meat And Dairy Alternatives
  • 6. Narrative Clip
  • 7. Carbon Green Cards
  • 8. E-bikes
  • 9. Translation and language platform
  • 10. Healthy vending machines
  • 11. Green/off-grid living
  • 12. Bringing the seasons to South Africa
  • 13. Niche pet services
  • 14. Hangover Helpers
  • 15. Special Needs Dating Site
  • 16. Second-hand Children’s Clothing
  • 17. Online Valuation Services
  • 18. ‘Anger Rooms’ to smash stuff with a sledge hammer
  • 19. BreathingRoom
  • 20. Discounted Eating Out
Next Slide