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What Are Happy Accidents?

Updated: May 24, 2023

Today’s guest highlights how his new company, ClariGen Z, was actually an accident, as many entrepreneurial endeavors.


I am sure many of you are familiar with how Penicillin was accidentally discovered after Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming left a petri dish of staphylococcus bacteria, which causes staph infections, on a windowsill and in had become contaminated with mold. Fleming discover that the mold was a member of the penicillium genus, which is actually a fungus, and boom - penicillin was born.


I am sure I am missing a few pieces of the story but the point we need to try to turn things into happy accidents, as Bob Ross would say.


Post-it notes is another great example of a happy accident. In 1968 Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M chemist, was trying to create a super-strong adhesive but instead accidentally invested a rather super-weak adhesive which could only be used to temporally stock things together. It wasn’t until 1980 that Post-It caught on nationally after a nearly 5 year long conversation with colleague Art Fry.


There are other accidental discovers like Botox, Brandy, Viagra, and my favorite - the ice cream cone which was first created at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes so the vendor next to him, Ernest A. Hamwi, came up with the cone shaped waffle idea.


Shoutout to Ernest for making this fat kid happy.


To some accidents represent failure, but to others accidents represent an opportunity to learn. Discovering patterns in accidents may help determine if things need to be altered. Sharing information and discovers helps breed innovation.


Listen to the customers like chef George Crum who, in 1853, was so livid a customer sent back his fired potatoes stating they were too soggy and too thick, chef Crum cut the potations into thin slices, fired them, and coved them with salt.


And just like that - accidentally the potato chip was born.


As one Michal Corleone said in The Godfather, “accidents don’t happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult”.


Who knows - you may be known like naval engineer Richard James who accidentally invented the slinky after developing a spring that would support and stabilize sensitive equipment on ships when a spring accidentally fell off a shelf and continued to move in the only way a slinky can.


Do not be afraid to try, entrepreneurs. Accidents happen often - it is how we learn.

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