Different strokes: Blue sky thinking about supplementary revenue streams

Meet Mike Hindmarsh, Senior Lead for the Incubator – AkzoNobel’s innovation team that aims to boost the business by investing in collaborative innovation projects. From his home base at AkzoNobel’s Felling site in the UK, Mike has the freedom to explore new ideas outside the company’s traditional wheelhouse.

Armed with a first class degree in Chemistry and a career spanning research, business management and marketing, Mike Hindmarsh is on a mission to find new ways to grow the company’s revenue.

Although AkzoNobel is “stellar” at creating new products and technologies to sell to its current paints and coatings markets, Mike believes that income streams adjacent to its core business – and growing markets – can help to supplement its global revenue.

“Should we be selling paint by the square meter of beautification? Because actually, people want to buy the end result – and they’re happy to pay for it,” Mike observes.

Mike sees potential in leveraging AkzoNobel’s core skills and expertise by offering services that complement its paint sales. He cites Incubator’s recent investment in startup Qlayers’ robotic spray painting as a good example of how diversification and collaborative innovation can support the company’s drive for sustainability (creating less overspray and waste, in this case), better customer service and future growth.

Looking beyond AkzoNobel’s traditional, transactional mode of doing business comes easily to Mike. He’s keen to think creatively about the future. “The economy’s moving away from capital expenditure to operating expenditure, so could we innovate within our portfolio to meet customers’ needs on a monthly, rather than a one-off, basis? It’s worth investigation.”

Portrait of  Mike Hindmarsh

“You can tell I'm passionate about innovation. Even at my age – and I’m 58. I still have this amazing desire to try new things.”

Trends point to some interesting opportunities

The company currently operates in traditional markets, with mature competitors in paints and coatings, explains Mike. So his job is to think a bit differently – to help the organization tap new, if less obvious, sources of sustainable value.

Through his fact-finding trip to Silicon Valley and his Erasmus course, Mike has identified a significant shift in large companies such as IBM – from traditional product markets into products and services. That creates a whole new landscape and has inspired Mike to investigate what further potential there might be in the paints and coatings industry.  

Incubator has the freedom to explore

“There’s no shortage of innovation at AkzoNobel,” continues Mike. “But the Incubator gives us freedom to work on, and encourage, ideas that might have a higher degree of uncertainty or risk.”

After the best part of 40 years with the company, Mike’s still passionate about innovation. “Even at my age – and I’m 58,” he says. “I still have this amazing desire to try new things.”

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