It was such a frustrating experience having to search multiple airline and travel agent websites just to find the best flight.
What Gareth Williams wanted was a single website that could search every commercial flight in the world. No such website existed so he and his friends built it.
Skyscanner.net got what they wanted. Gareth and his company innovated. And the success of their company today is built, in part, on their award-winning website which is the number one flight search engine in Europe.
The reason they have succeeded is because their website provides a one-stop shop for airlines tickets. If you are travelling from Glasgow to Arequipa in Peru, or from Anchorage to Sydney, Skyscanner.net can find a value-for-money price. This system's innovation is its convenience and the extra information it provides through the website's blog and special offers.
Given the number of flight options today, customers aren't able to track all the possible airline travel options between any two points. A potential flyer may not be aware of the website offering the best flights.
The best Arequipa flight was available from Iberia (whereas BA and KLM spring to mind). And to Sydney, the online travel agency ebookers.com had the best options.
Skyscanner.net offers its users flight search in 29 languages - including Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese - as well as Skytools, a suite allowing webmasters to add Skyscanner features into their website. This extends the reach of Skyscanner to third-party websites, increasing the likelihood that a user will perform a flight search at Skyscanner.net.
For users, there is a free app available for Android, iPhone and iPad, so that searches can be made on the move. It boasts more than 8 million downloads.
At its core, Skyscanner offers an innovative flight-price search product and around this great, company promoting tool-support has been provided.
But all of this functionality wasn't available in the first version. The website originally offered flights from only European budget airlines, but today the website has access to most major European carriers as well as those that offer services to, from, and within the US, Canada and Asia.
The first version of Skyscanner.net focussed on the innovation of a European-wide one-stop shop and then incrementally improved it.
You don't - and shouldn't - provide every last feature before you launch. If you try this approach you will never launch, as there is always something else to provide. There is always new functionality to consider.
The skill is in initially building a product that integrates multiple tools seamlessly and flexibly enough to allow others to be dropped in later.
THIS blog is about how people innovate, in the small and in the large, and how people have successfully moved from one to another.
All innovation starts small, as an idea in someone's head. Turning that idea into a commercial reality requires innovation in the large and bridging between the two is not easy. Running a company requires many different skills that are rarely present in one person.
This is where the innovation economy steps in. Key skills like raising funding, accountancy, recruitment, and marketing and sales are all available from other companies that make up the innovation economy.
When thinking about what is required to innovate in the large, it can seem overwhelming and for many this prevents them from taking the first step. But the good news is that many of these skills aren't required at the start.
They become necessary as a small company grows and the innovation economy in Scotland has ample people able to offer advice and skills. And even better, some of this is available for free. This blog will highlight access to such services at a later date.
For now, it's enough to remember that small companies really matter. According to Scottish Government figures, firms with fewer than 250 employees make up 99% of all Scottish enterprises and together such companies provide 54% of all jobs and 37% of turnover. To support these small companies, the Scottish Government provides tax credits on R&D expenditure.
SCOTLAND is a global leader in electronics, life sciences and software development and is at the forefront of work in wireless networking, video games, and in the energy and financial services sectors.
Recent Scottish innovations include the world's first commercially available bionic hand, the first successfully cloned mammal and major research into nanotechnology, plus the success of the Grand Theft Auto video games series. All of this demonstrates the breadth of Scotland's innovations across its key sectors.
There are no shortage of ideas here. The world’s first camera on a computer chip and the world’s smallest television screen were both invented in Scotland. Eight of Europe's top clean-tech companies are based in Scotland and companies such as IBM, JP Morgan, Oracle, Fujitsu, Dell and NCR all have a major presence in Scotland.
They prove that Scotland is an attractive place to innovate and that this country has the necessary skills to turn ideas into winning businesses.
Scotland's academic institutions have a world-wide reputation for leading research and innovation with Scotland’s academics producing 1% of all scientific publications in refereed journals in the world, ranking Scotland third in the world for the number of research publications published per head of the population. Which is impressive with a population of just over five million people.
Many articles have been written on "Where are the Scottish Facebooks?" They are all around us, they just aren't the same size. Most Internet-based companies aren't huge concerns. For every Google or Twitter there are numerous others that are smaller or which have failed.
Failure is in the nature of innovation. Many attempts fail and the failure may have nothing to do with the initial idea. The market might not be ready, or the company may fail to explain the value behind its product. The best product is worth nothing if no-one knows about it.
This blog will be positive about innovation. There will be no place for doom and gloom. The naysayers and peddlers of anti-ideas can read elsewhere. This blog is about supporting those that want to innovate and to take that step into the unknown and build something great.
It will be published regularly and will cover all sectors and aspects of innovation, from the nurturing of an initial idea, through the founding and growing of a company, to the eventual crossing of the chasm into the mainstream.
There is one rule: the innovation must be performed within Scotland. If you are innovating or work at a company making novel products,
drop us a line putting innovation as the subject.