Turning serendipity into business models

The term “serendipity”, coined by Horace Walpole in 1754, means “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. In the past, the term has been used in literary and religious books, for example in the bible, where many circumstances in Christian life are considered serendipitous experiences.

The main idea is that events which happen by chance can turn out to be extremely beneficial. In recent years, especially in the business world, serendipity is often used to persuade consumers to experience a feeling of unexpected happiness if purchasing a certain product or service. Using Mergeflow, we looked at businesses based on serendipity.

Companies related to serendipity

Beginning with the search terms “serendipity/serendipitous”, Mergeflow shows that in the last two years, companies related to those terms have received VC investments from $6.5 million (the latest) to $14 million.

Let’s see in more detail who these companies are, and what they are working on:

ReplyYes invented an e-commerce over mobile messaging platform for brands to engage and transact with customers. The platform learns from customer feedback to make the experience serendipitous to each person and brand. Message recipients simply reply ‘Yes’ to instantly buy from their mobile phones.

– Luma provides a home WiFi experience, including video streaming, cameras, garage doors and even toasters connected to people’s home hetworks.
The Amazon Alexa Fund decided to invest in Luma, claiming that innovation in the smart home space is taking off, having the potential to make our daily lives easier and “more serendipitious than ever”, as Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa, said.

Happn is a french dating app (6 million users) that has a different mechanism compared to other Tinder-like apps. Once you register, every time you cross someone’s path, this person’s profile will be added to the top of your feed. Then you can like people and potentially start chatting with them.
It might feel strange, but Happn fully represents the idea of serendipitous discovery. In fact, it is based on serendipity and real life interactions. Every person you see in the app was right next to you at some point during the day.

Serendipitous workplaces

Serendipity can be considered a state of mind, a feeling that has inspired companies to associate their brands with sensational discoveries and pleasurable experiences. With Mergeflow, we discoverd Serendipity Labs, whose mission is to build a network of inspirational workplaces to enhance the quality of worklife of the members and their guests.

Can a workplace deliver an inspirational and serendipitous experience? According to Serendipity Labs, yes, their members can choose the way they want to work- to connect, collaborate or focus.

Patents on serendipity

Even more surprisingly, we found that there are patents related to serendipity. In September 2015, two Americans invented a serendipity generating system and device that generates recommendations by identifying contrasting corresponding topic affinity values between users. For a more detailed description of the project, you can read more here.

In the same year, IBM filed a patent with the title “Goal based conversational serendipity inclusion”, which consists of a method to inject information into a conversation. For additional information, please take a look here.