Do more with less

Innovations have led global society to the highest stage of development. It is impossible to imagine the modern world without existing discoveries. Innovations’ value lies in the fact that it is a key element of every process in any field. A further step of evolution whose influence is already visible still requires a driving force of innovations. Yet, I see a big difference between a real innovation and the one which is only called the same. Let’s sort it.

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What is NOT an innovation?

Innovation is not an action for making people spend money on products using of which makes no difference or probably complicates life.  Innovation is not a tool for entrepreneurs for realizing a fortune of thousands of euros. Innovation and using it is not an indicator of one’s status. These definitions fit to the inventions which have no real profit and may be described by the words „uselessness”, „indulgence”, „big-budget”, „exclusiveness”.

Luxury vs Frugality

Both countries with advanced and emerging economies are facing challenges regarding scarcity of finances and resources. Being limited is not a benchmark of weakness; it is a source of motivation to be thoughtful. Being frugal is not, in turn, a benchmark of poverty or unhappiness; it is a capacity of keeping sustainability.

A luxury comes naturally to the Middle Ages where ladies used to wear a complicated hairstyle with insects and mouses inside, where interior design of houses looked like a museum and residents were afraid of touching whatever in a house. Nowadays, the emphasis is placed on a practicality, cost-efficiency, affordability. These options are considered in a concept of Frugal Innovation.

Key principles of a concept of Frugal Innovation (by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu & Simone Ahuja)


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  1. Difficulties make us find a solution. A lot of start-ups were established while facing challenges. Therefore, adversity is a source of innovation.
  2. The scarcity of natural and financial resources is a reason why an attempt to find the most effective and affordable business model is rational.
  3. Being open-minded towards changes and thinking out of the box, frugal innovators can cope with sudden challenges more quickly and more successfully.
  4. Producing a product or a service, frugal entrepreneurs aim to make them available for masses and as easy to use as possible. An upgrading may result in excessive complications and production costs increase.
  5. Frugality is particularly relevant for marginal customers they should preserve sources. In order to make money, a lot of companies manufacture products for wealthy customers. In contrast, the concept of frugal innovation has an altruistic basis and pays attention to marginalized areas and individuals who need support.
  6. Frugal innovators take into account not only statistics and analytical thinking but also intuition. Going with a good feeling and using an empathy, innovators are capable to understand needs and willingness of environment.

What about real life?

In fact, an average person faces new inventions every day.

Can the following innovations be named „frugal”? How cost-effective and useful are they?

We are considering this issue using following examples.

  1. Modular furniture

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Buying furniture for your own home or for a rented flat, people are increasingly seeking for help in such stores like IKEA. They are attracted primarily by affordability in price and at the same time with a good quality. A practical design that fits any modern apartment, the ease of assembling, opportunity to express individuality through creating your own style –  a modular system of furniture provides you with it. If you wish to redecorate or expand the space, it is possible to purchase additional blocks from the same collection. Due to the universal size of the furniture modules, you can do online drawings with the help of design software. Thus, planning carefully on your own, you will spend both less time and money.



  1. Pallet-furniture

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With warming, people are starting to spend more time outside, to decorate a country house, to visit coffee shops or ice-cream cafes. The question arises about the buying of garden furniture for decorating verandas and outdoor areas. No matter, this is a coffee chain that has a multi-million dollar income, or a small family business, suburban Villa of a wealthy entrepreneur or a small house in the village, saving money – a good prospect. How to do it?

Old pallets remaining without a use after the construction works are sold cheaply or given even for free. You can find them at supermarkets and large building supply retailers, pallet manufacturer or recycler. Pallets are made from wooden structures, representing a type of packaging material and a way for transportation of different goods. On average, their size varies from 600 mm to 1200 mm in length and from 400 mm to 1200 mm in width; the average weight is 8-15 kg.  The amount of money you will pay for 2 pieces for a seat and a table, bought in a regular furniture store will be 60% more expensive than a solution with wooden pallets bringing the natural view, soft pillows, and stylish blankets.

On average, the arrangement of space on a summer area for 1 person will cost 150 euros, for 162400 euros. Making a choice in favor of frugality you will be able to save up to 1500 euros. The benefit is obvious!



         2. Ironing without iron


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An iron, it would seem, is an indispensable thing in the household. However, for students who live in dormitories, travelers and ordinary people who are always in hurry, ironing can’t always fit into the plan. Moreover, irons consum power.

However, taking a hot shower, sufficient steam is being produced. If you hang the garment on a hanger in the bathroom, steam can smooth out the wrinkles on your and it will look neat and presentable.

Saving time, electricity and money!



         3. A bench with a solar panel for charging a phone

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No one can deny that smartphones are an integral part of our lives. In accordance with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for productive activity the basic needs have to be satisfied – food, healthy sleep, hygiene. For today, a complete charge of a mobile phone easily falls into the category of primitive needs.

In some cities, people can charge their smartphones right on the street.

In clear weather, the solar battery located on a bench can produce up to 200 watts of power per hour. This means that per day, about 20-30 smartphones can be charged.

Installing solar panels does not cost much, but for a man, it is a great tool to feel more comfortable and a motivation to spend more time in nature.



         4. Passive houses.


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The size of a house, a number of residents, a number of used electrical appliances, air-conditioning, pool or other advanced facilities, as well as local climate,  affect the amount of energy consumed by the house. On average, 40 % of all energy is spent on maintenance of the house.

Average house consumes up to 250-350 kWh / m per year.

Passive, or energy-efficient house, consumes not more than 15 kWh/m2 (which is equivalent to 1.5 liters of fuel or the same amount of natural gas) for heating (or for cooling if talking about other climate demands).

Total energy used for domestic applicants don’t exceed 60 kWh per m2 per year.

How does it work?

  • Renewable energy

For example, installing the solar collector on the roof is 12 m2, you will receive up to 2 000 kWh/m2 per year.

  • Orientation of the building

The correct orientation (on the West) of the house allows maximum use of solar energy and light.

  • Insulation

Heat comes not from batteries, but from household appliances and is maintained through thermal insulation and hermetic material.

  • Climate control

Ventilation allows fresh air to enter the premises and, at the same time, retain heat.

  • Heat control

Smart technology controls the heat input and, for example, can disconnect the battery, when no one is home.

Spending a little more money during construction, it is possible to save well on maintenance of the building in the subsequent years of its use and to contribute in protecting the environment, providing for yourself and future generations a sustainable future.



         5. Uber

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In a nutshell, Uber is the equivalent of a taxi. The essence of the service is the ability to find a passing car with the help of mobile applications and quickly, safely and inexpensively reach your destination.

Due to the fact that the driver doesn’t deviate from his route, fewer resources are spent (gasoline, electricity, water, depending on the type of vehicle), which is a benefit for the environment and the owner of the car. The opportunity to earn a little money without much effort – also a good perspective.

In large cities with heavy traffic to find a passing car will not be difficult. Moreover, the free app provides a quick and reliable search. Compared to a taxi, the amount of money per trip is 2-3 times less. The money transfer is done via the Internet; it is possible to use coupon codes. This is all undeniably a big profit for customers!

It can be concluded that without using a lot of financial, institutional and natural resources, it is possible to obtain a high-quality result.




Frugal innovation strategy cannot be always run in every field. Meanwhile, it becomes an additional tool for companies for sustainable development and knowing how to proceed while experiencing sophistications and a resource gap.

With the way how the society is becoming more sensible, a business model „how to make a quality at low cost” are appearing worldwide, including the USA. Apple, Facebook, Google, Philips, PepsiCo, Procter&Gamble, WalMart – all these corporations and technology companies have implemented the frugal innovation strategy combining it with the traditional approaches and structures. Indian companies such as Future Group, Suzlon, Tata Group, YES BANK have already developed this smart strategy as well.

All in all, while implementing new technology into practice it is important:

  • To be sure an innovation is meaningful (not looking for the meaning, but show it)
  • Not to find proper positioning but to ensure accessibility for customers including as many social segments as possible
  • To consider a planet like one of your clients you have to care about
  • To use 20% of sources to produce 80% of a result (the same rule as the Pareto principle)
  • To perceive difficulties as an opportunity to improve your business
  • To think within categories of efficiency, frugality, and sustainability


Do more with less is about efficiency. Namely, this approach is in the great demand nowadays as it ensures sustainability and mindfulness.