Call it the digital revolution. Call it the information age. With the new economy pouring billions of dollars into non-tangible assets every quarter, call it a massive business.
The growth in the non-physical product market is as rapid as it is profitable. It’s undeniable. With very little overhead and insane margins, it makes good business sense too. So much so that many pundits are calling traditional manufacturing all but dead, sectioned off as an old and boring business practice with none of the excitement and innovation of modern tech startups.
The truth is there is still plenty of innovation to happen in the physical world across every industry. The truth is manufacturing businesses and startups alike are absolutely crushing it on every level — if they have the vision and determination, millions can still be made.
Related: 3 Trends Driving Modern Manufacturing Innovation
Let’s look at a few specific industries. One of them is old and predictable with a desperate need for innovation. One of them was innovative at one time, and can use a master’s touch to improve. One of them is new with a limitless horizon.
Fashion, electronics and weed.
“Manufacturing is definitely an untapped market and there’s a lot of money to be made in the business. It’s not an easy task, but it’s all worth it in the end,” said Quiane Crews, founder and CEO of the shoe line RoyalKiing.
Crews, at the age of 20, had the opportunity to flip electronics manufacturer Shenzhen Jinli in 2016 for $100 million, allowing him to launch the new shoe line in 2017. Crews believes “you will make more producing your own products versus going through third parties, and controlling your own process is important with shoes.”
When it comes to the budding marijuana industry, there’s a lot to manufacture. Consumption, storage, accessories and more all need to go from the underground to the main stream. One company doing this to the tune of more than $3 million in revenue is SHO Products with their revolutionary Rosin Press, which takes your greenery and turns it into an all organic medical cannabis concentrate.
Related: Marijuana Workers Now Outnumber Bakers and Other Common Careers
It’s not just about disruption and innovation though. It’s about quality and ownership. This is where the mass-market manufacturers of this world are falling short. Really, really short.
From breakdowns to crappy customer support, they deserve to get pushed to the background. But, in order to do that, we as entrepreneurs have to take responsibility for the entire process. Not just manufacturing. Not just support. Not just marketing or design. Those are but pieces of the larger pie, and if you don’t own it all, you’re leaving yourself exposed.
“Fully integrated is required to operate successful large online retail,” said Sam Jurist, the 29-year-old cofounder of SHO Products. “You have to do it all — manufacture, design, source, distribution, wholesale and retail” to be the best.
Notice how he said “large retail.” Sure, you can make some cash drop shipping, but that’s committing to a lifetime of living on small and shrinking margins. If you want to go out on your own and do it big, you’re going to have to step it up and take ownership.
Related: 9 Factory Tours That Are Better Than Amusement Parks
As the “startup guy” in the room, I’m still very much into SaaS, consulting and apps. But, it would be absolutely foolish to ignore the opportunity for innovations and disruption in traditionally stuffy businesses like manufacturing. Providing you have the insight to innovate, the guts to disrupt and the drive to own the entire chain, you can join these millennial entrepreneurs as the future Carnegie’s of the world.