Innovating with Wellness and Technology

Do you want to create new products, improve customer satisfaction and enhance team collaboration? Do you want to leverage on the fast growing wellness industry, but don't know how?

This post starts with my personal story of innovating with Wellness and Technology, and continued with how-to tips that really worked from my experience. If you want to go directly to the how-to please scroll down to section "How to Innovate using Wellness and Technology".

My Story: Before and After Innovating with Wellness and Technology

Four years ago I started Miscato Limited, a social enterprise that made aromatherapy skincare gifts and workshops. The experience was very meaningful, engaged many different people from a range of social groups, including corporations, students, single moms, and even ethnic minorities.

But Miscato couldn't grow. Even after series of successful sales and workshops, the profit was never enough to grow because there was not enough differentiation, too much manual work, too little capital, team was not motivated...the list of reasons could keep going. It was just not scalable despite statistics showing that our industry - the wellness industry - is rapidly growing with market size expanding 10.6% from 2013 to 2015 alone (Global Wellness Institute, 2015). More stats on wellness here.

I wanted to tap into this global wellness trend, but how to leverage on this surging movement? In 2015, I started studying design thinking and methods of innovation. I was consciously trying to innovate the industry I love - wellness, in a way that could scale.

It finally dawned on me that one of the sure ways is to get on the ride with another fast growing sector: consumer technology. I believe that innovators that takes advantage of both wellness and technology trends would come out as winners of the future.

Written here are the steps I have taken, and have worked out to my advantage to help me create my current project, Aromeo Diffuser, a project that has gained momentum in a way that my previous ventures never had. These steps helped in getting my product built, gaining traction, building a team and also earning the trust of investors. I hope you will find them useful too.

How to Innovate using Wellness and Technology

  • Skill Stack Crossover
    This means crossing your main area of expertise in wellness, with other skills from surging market trends in consumer technology. Building up some key skills outside of your area of expertise, while may not seem useful at first, creates more dimensions of thoughts and more points to connect. Examples of people doing skill stack crossovers are, a masseuse who learns carpentry, musician who learns coding, or in my case, an aromatherapy enthusiast who learns product design. You don't have to be very outstanding in each field; you just have to be good enough in various fields to have the crossover that is uniquely yours.

  • Exercise Empathy
    I believe that in the end innovation is about making the world a better place for people. And the best way to make the world better for people, is by understanding what troubles them, and how to solve these real customer problems. From these problems you could create new products or services that could delight your customers. This human-centered approach is not only useful to create valuable new products and services, but also contributes to a happier workplace because you would band together solving problems in the world like superheroes.

  • Continuous Iteration
    This spirit to always improve fosters collaboration within your company and also with your stakeholders. Instead of aiming for a finished product, aim for a product good enough for dialogue. It's that early dialogue with your stakeholders that really makes a great product because you shape the product together. This is also humbling experience that tells us we don't always get everything right in the first shot.

  • Stay Tuned to Innovation Trends
    Trends indicate the areas where the eyes are looking at, money is flowing to and opportunities are flocking to. You're way more likely to get resources from a trending topic like 'smart ecosystem', 'blockchain', 'antiaging' (think of buzzwords) than from a waning one. This is not to say you should dive into every trend out there, but there must be some reason why people are into these trends - and your job is to go out and find one trend that really speaks to you.

  • Have an Eye for Art
    Wellness specialization like aromatherapy, fitness or massage are practicalaspects of your offerings, while technological advancements such as automation or wireless control are the functional aspects. However, it is really the artistic aspect that drives sales. It is style and art that will be able to move the emotional aspect of your team and your customers. And this artistic sense will set you apart from competitors, as well as build your brand.

About the Author

Michelle Fno is a founder of Miscato Limited, a Hong Kong based company that offers Aromeo Diffuser (Smart Aroma Diffuser for Room Hospitality) and Aromeo Corporate Wellness Workshops (workshops for corporate clients with the main area in aromatherapy). She has been working in the wellness industry particularly in aromatherapy and organic skincare for the last 5 years, with strong focus of innovating in the wellness industry and finding new ways to deliver wellness using technology. As a trained Industrial Engineer and Teaching Assistant in Integrated Systems Design at HKUST, she uses various methodologies to discover and solve customer needs.

She has won various awards including Sino-HKUST Entrepreneurship Competition GF Securities Gold Award, Nan Fung Smart City Award, Fosun Happiness Ecosystem Award. She is also a Chartered Member and Young Representative of The Business & Professional Women of Hong Kong. Michelle has been called as a speaker in various occasions on the topics of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, such as in HKU MBA Club, HKUST Business School, Paperclip Startup Campus, Hysan Social Entrepreneurship Contest, among others.

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