Disruptive student ponders student loan disruption.

I love the term disruption. I first learned it in elementary school, “Joe is sometimes a disruption to class,” written on the carbon paper of my report card in neat cursive.

It’s quite the buzzword these days and it’s most often tied to the word digital as if the two are mutually exclusive. But in reality – when used in reference to a product or service being disruptive – the term pre-dates the digital age. Let’s face it, the wheel was a disruptor rooted in an idea of efficiency. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the term, “digital disruption” is inaccurate in most uses.

One of the misnomers of the term disruption these days is that it is a service, a tangible thing, or a particular technology. However, the disruptor is the idea that spurred the product or service and the actual disruption comes from the widespread adoption of that idea over another– in essence, the validation of the idea. The more people that value and adopt that particular idea, the bigger the disruption.

And although the idea is the spotlight, the execution of that idea – whether it’s a website, an app, or your product – is what will ultimately drive adoption. Today’s users want simplicity and elegant interaction along with a highly personalized experience. They want products and experiences that are unique to them and while digital is often the vehicle that facilitates disruption these days, it’s still the idea they’re buying.

One of the things I love about our industry is that we get to be exposed to marketplace disruptors in their infancy and help shape that experience before they are out there in the world. One such client is College Ave Student Loans. How exactly could a student loan company be a disruptor? It’s all about the idea.

It’s not a stretch to say that perceptions of student loans are less than warm and fuzzy. It’s a stressful time for both students and parents, filled with a mixture of anxiety and dreams. Figuring out how to pay for college likely summons visions of cumbersome processes, lots of paperwork, and confusing terminology for most. And although it’s one of the most important pieces to the puzzle, it’s the last thing you want to think about when you’re dreaming about your (or your child’s) future.

College Ave knew they could do better. They had an idea that the student loan process shouldn’t be that intimidating. That talking about student loans could be done in simpler terms. That applying for student loans could be quicker. And more importantly, they knew they could show students how choices they make about their loan could help them save money over the life of their loan.

With the website as the focus of their product, Shiny helped them disrupt the student loan space by taking a complex subject and building a simple interactive website experience that gives prospective customers hands-on experience with shaping their loan through a natural language process as well as engaging and interactive calculators. We helped them create a first-in-class mobile application process that trimmed cumbersome applications down to minutes in an easy-to-use experience. And in the process, helped them disrupt the student loan space.

What’s not to love about doing exciting things like that every day? How can we help with your disruptive idea?