The best disruptors are focused on customers, not products; they use technology rather than fear it; they create new opportunities often where regulations don't exist and they are backed by those with deep pockets and an appetite for risk. Colin Cullis presents stories of Business Unusual - those people and companies driving the next industrial revolution.
Episodes in this series
Vitalik Buterin - Blockchain billionaire and tech philosopher08 December 2021 | 13 Minute Listen
At 27, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has accomplished more than most can in a lifetime For those outside the crypto-world Bitcoin is likely the only new fangled form of money you have heard about. There are thousands of coins and platforms. Many are simply copycat versions hoping to catch unwary investors but some do offer new ways to imagine how finance, business and even governments can operate. Buterin became intrigued with Bitcoin after his father introduced him to it at age 17. He was so intrigued he started writing for a Bitcoin publication and got paid as you might expect in Bitcoin. At the time he made less than $4 dollars per submission.
Covid-19 two years later, did we learn anything?01 December 2021 | 14 Minute Listen
Politicians and pharmaceutical companies could have done more to tackle Covid-19 In December 2019 Business Unusual considered the disruption that could come from a pandemic. It came on the back of growing anti-vax behaviour from small sections of communities that did not only believe vaccines were not helping, there was a growing belief that they would cause harm. As a consequence outbreaks of diseases that were on the verge of being eradicated were making a comeback with outbreaks that in some cases warranted drastic public action. In December 2019 Samoa had a measles outbreak that affected 3% of the population. It followed a drop in vaccine use and showed how a virus with just a bit of complacency could run amok. It took a curfew and the cancellation of public gatherings with most civil servants being redeployed to administer vaccines for the month. By the end of December they had managed to vaccinate 94% of the nation. It was not the first lesson we have had about what happens when a virus gets the better of us.
Africa’s largest rail network needs attention, could hydrogen be the answer17 November 2021 | 13 Minute Listen
The long term solution may be to reduce the need for overhead cables or get rid of them all together. It was the height of the cables that caused the scandal with the trains South Africa bought that were too tall. Removing the cables would not only solve that issue but cable theft too. The solution is to use hydrogen and a fuel cell in the same way a diesel electric train operates, rather than diesel to run a generator, the hydrogen fuel cell generates electricity, is silent and only produces water as a by product. The range for the current versions is about 600km. That would still need some hydrogen stations to be created along the route for cross country trips but they may be run by solar plants that can create hydrogen from water or simply moved there by train. Image credit: Casey Horner Unsplash
A Just Transition away from coal - what does it mean?10 November 2021 | 12 Minute Listen
South Africa is at COP26 to discuss how to avoid a climate disaster, this is the plan. The Presidential Climate Commission was tasked to both move South Africa towards a low carbon economy while managing the impact from potential disruption to jobs. The idea of a just transition looks to both deal with how to lower our CO2 emissions and give those employed and dependent on those industries to maintain or ideally improve on the current conditions. While the focus is on the energy sector, carbon emissions include agriculture, manufacturing, mining and transport. The plan would need to address emissions across the board to achieve the first of the two key jargon terms. Net-zero and zero-carbon. In trying to achieve this the measures may use mitigation or adaptation. The time frame to achieve the goal is 2050. That is 29 years from now, for most South Africans that is longer than their lifetimes. For those that are older it is about the time since South Africa has been a democracy. If you consider what we have managed to achieve since then you would either be optimistic or very doubtful we have the time or even the political will or ability to achieve it. Here is a brief explanation of each.
Black Friday is coming and so are the retail bots03 November 2021 | 13 Minute Listen
Bots are often the reason sale items appear and sell out almost instantly This story begins with the latest Xbox that looks like a small fridge, Microsoft the makers of the Xbox said that if they could win a Twitter battle of brands they would turn the meme fridge into reality and after winning the contest in April released the mini fridges for a limited sales run in October. Lots of people wanted one, most did not manage to get one, but quite a few were seen for sale on auction sites at much higher prices. The fridges were not bought by fans, but by a new kind of middleman that uses bot to buy high demand items to sell for a profit. Xbox has since made the fridge available again from December; those sales too seem to be plagued by bot purchases. Guest: Colin Cullis | Product Owner at Primedia Broadcasting Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Flame cremation was seen as a better option than burial, but that is changing27 October 2021 | 12 Minute Listen
As cities grow and land becomes more expensive so too does being able to afford a burial. Cremation allowed for less space to be used, but the CO2 and potential pollutant impact on dealing with 60 million deaths a year may make it a less favourable option. Here are some alternatives. Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash
How connectivity and cloud computing projects are boosting South Africa's potential for innovation20 October 2021 | 14 Minute Listen
Despite the bad news associated with big tech, this is something to celebrate The first challenge as older South Africans will recall is getting connected. Many young South Africans may still struggle with access and cost, but like anything that you can supply in volume, you get to get it for less. This is the first critical tipping point for progress. The first fibre cables came online only in this century even though the first undersea cable arrived from Europe in the 1800s, but in the two decades the increase has been incredible. Image credit: Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
The past and potential future for Taiwan13 October 2021 | 14 Minute Listen
Taiwan is a significant economy but only 14 countries acknowledge it as a country. China and some in Taiwan want to see the countries reunited others would prefer the two remain neighbours. Depending on what happens, it will not only impact the citizens of the two regions but perhaps everyone. Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash Audio credit: Blue Origin