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Ben Casnocha
Profile in Innovation: Michael Bremans

Can you do well by doing good? Can a successful innovation generate lots of profit for the inventor and also make a positive contribution to the environment? For Mick Bremans, a Belgian innovator, the answer is yes.

Bremans is chief executive officer of Ecover, which produces domestic cleaning products made of natural plant and mineral ingredients. The products compare to others in the industry in both quality and price; where they differ is their environmental friendliness. Ecover’s liquid soaps, washing powders, and detergents do not contain environmentally harmful phosphate or chlorine, and they all come in recyclable polyethylene bottles.

Ben Casnocha
Profile in Innovation: Rael Lissoos

Sometimes innovation sprouts from the combination of several existing technologies. Working together, they can form something new where the sum is greater than the individual parts.

Rael Lissoos made a mark on his native South Africa taking this very approach. He produced a low-cost telecom network by combining three independent pieces of innovation: cheap Wi-Fi routers, open-source software that connects routers to form a meshed network (extending the range of single networks), and Wi-Fi phone handsets (a phone that can place calls if it’s connected to a Wi-Fi connection).

Ben Casnocha
Profile in Innovation: Alicia Castillo Holley

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others,” says an African proverb. If there’s one thing many innovators have in common, it’s that they teamed with others in order to achieve their dreams. Innovators seek help of all kinds: emotional, financial, and intellectual. They turn to partners, investors, and mentors to ask questions such as: What’s the best way to make this product work? How can I raise money to further develop my idea? How do I balance my family needs with my research or entrepreneurship?

They turn to people like Alicia Castillo Holley. Born in Venezuela, Castillo Holley has spent her life co-founding nine companies and consulting with information technology and biotech companies in Latin America. As a consultant, she offers mentorship, early financing, and connections.

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