How Did James Dyson Forge His Empire

by Joost | Last Updated: September 29, 2017

Dyson is one of the most commonly known brands of vacuum cleaner in the world, and revolutionized the entire industry. By changing the way people thought about vacuum cleaners, Sir James Dyson began a revolution in the cleaning industry that is still creating evolution to this day.

By creating the bagless vacuum cleaner to help get rid of suction degradation and dust bags creating a mess everywhere, James Dyson went on to create a company worth over $3bn. Today, the Dyson brand creates everything from wonderful air purifiers to hand dryers and more. It’s a company that started with one idea, and expanded into doing so much more.

Having grown sick and tired of the constant emptying of the vacuum bag – the last straw being not having one to replace with, and having to empty one out with messy consequence – Dyson set out to change things. A trained engineer and a designer, he was involved in the creation of various pieces of hardware like the ballbarrow; a wheelbarrow on a ball rather than a wheel, of course.

Setting out to build something new, Dyson operated on the –Cyclone technology that has become wholesale in houses all across the world. Struggling for money, though, the Dyson family feared for their medium-term future, borrowing constantly and having to become self-sustainable; growing their own food and making clothes for their children through the artistry of his wife, Deirdre.

By the early 1980s, the tech was on its way to completion and he began to search for licensing to get the technology made. Finding it hard to get soon-to-be competitors to buy in, such as Black & Decker, or failing as the progress would reach the patenting counsel for companies, Dyson noticed that the reasons for rejection were increasingly more and more frivolous.

In 1986, he broke through the need to work with his competitors. Working alongside a Japanese firm named Apex, he secured a licensing agreement but Apex oversold the product at close to $2,000 a pop, and Dyson failed to make the headway he had hoped.

Embroiled in costly legal battles as he tried to go self-made and noticed companies ‘borrowing’ his idea, Dyson fought to keep the patent safe. In 1991, Dyson finally got the $1m he needed from the bank, Lloyds, to go into production to create the product himself having won his legal battles. It was being picked up by catalog after catalog, before major British department store John Lewis took it on – from there, it became the best-selling British vacuum cleaner and changed the world of domestic cleaning for good.

Struggling to break into the US market at first, by 2002 he’d convinced a buyer to try it for two weeks and convinced their boss of the brands’ qualities. This success overseas began to see Dyson change and improve his position on the market, and by 2006 they’d moved into everything from hand dryers to air multipliers, forming what became one of the most powerful and lasting legacies in recent domestic history.

It was the desire to push on through the rejection and the theft of his idea that pushed Dyson to continue; and from that, he’s become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in a market he has dominated since arrival.