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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.

By Karen E. Spaeder

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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.

Accentra's story is proof positive that consumers want function and fashion in everything they buy--right down to their staplers. "Both functionality and aesthetics are necessary to create a successful design solution," says Davin Stowell, founder and CEO of Smart Design, a New York City-based product design firm whose client list includes giants like Corningware, Hewlett-Packard and OXO International. "If it looks good and doesn't function, the consumer will have an unfavorable experience with a product. Likewise, if it functions but doesn't have visual appeal, a product may not attract consumers at retail."

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