Spotted for you this week: name-your-own pizza at Dominos, t-shirts with a story, a new form of direct mail, buses for women only, and more. Our next edition is due on 13 February 2008. In the meantime, check out our daily postings on www.springwise.com, send us your tips, and please don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues about us. Much appreciated!

 

 
February 6, 2008
 

A new home decor website from the UK lets shoppers experiment with room planning and buy directly from a wide range of retailers. mydeco, founded by lastminute.com's Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox, aggregates products from over 500 retailers and combines this wide selection with 3D planning tools that let users view and share the rooms they create.

The site is packed with bells and whistles, most of which seem very useful, but could be overwhelming for first-time users. Options include uploading a photo of a room and changing its colour schemes (walls, floors, etc) with the click of a button. Another handy feature lets browsers 'buy the look for less': going from a GBP 8,000 room to a GBP 800 room by using less expensive pieces, while sticking to a given style.

Although shoppers can create lists on mydeco, the actual sale takes place through the company's retail partners, who pay mydeco a commission on each item sold. The site lets members earn commissions, too. For each item purchased from one of the room designs they've created, users can earn 3% or more.

Presenting products from a range of retailers isn't new, of course. What brings this to a next level of e-commerce is the focus on making it easy for consumers to visualise potential purchases, trying them out online. Instead of having to schlep around countless individual stores, users can easily assemble pieces in a way they otherwise couldn't, online or offline. One to copy to other industries? (Related: Social shopping meets interior design.)

Website: www.mydeco.com
Contact: youtellus@mydeco.com

Spotted by: Cagla Pakel

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February 6, 2008
 

Judging by the response to our post last week on TheLadders, high-end job sites are blossoming around the globe. A few more for your consideration:

Dallas-based RiseSmart, which just recently launched, bills itself as a human-powered job search service that prescreens online search results for time-starved job seekers. First, RiseSmart's search engine scours myriad job sites for opportunities that match the job seeker's criteria. Next, a dedicated, human "RiseSmart Concierge" sorts through the results to arrive at a list strongly matched to the candidate's profile. New results are gathered and presented to members weekly; the cost is USD 54.95 per month.

In Australia, meanwhile, Six Figures is gearing up to launch this month with exclusive access to six figure opportunities and more relevant information up front, including salary and benefits. Six Figures will also enable members to present and sell themselves beyond the usual resume, including the ability to upload videos, links to personal blogs and community site profiles. Membership for job seekers will be free.

Finally, while we're at it, we'd be remiss not to mention two contenders that have been in the business since the 1990s: 6FigureJobs, which offers thousands of prescreened postings for jobs paying USD 100K and more, with free membership for job seekers; and Netshare, which works with a network of more than 7,500 recruiters and corporate HR departments and charges membership fees of USD 40 monthly.

Websites: www.risesmart.comwww.sixfigures.com.auwww.6figurejobs.comwww.netshare.com

Spotted by: Paul Sethi

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February 5, 2008
 

It's not uncommon for pizza chains to let their customers order online or even via text message and the mobile web, but a new tool from Domino's adds a social element to the process.

Michigan-based Domino's revamped its online presence last month as part of its "You Got 30 Minutes" brand re-launch campaign, including adding the new BFD Builder for custom online orders. Short for Big Fantastic Deal, the BFD Builder lets consumers create the pizza of their dreams—specifying the type of crust, the amount of sauce and cheese, and unlimited toppings—for a flat rate of USD 10.99. A 10-day contest last month even promised USD 500 in gift certificates for the most creative design. What's really interesting, though, is that consumers can name and register the pizzas they design in Domino's BFD database, where they can be viewed and ordered by other consumers. Nearly 12,000 pizzas have been registered so far, including the "Happy Birthday Aaron" and "Rhonda Half Doug Half," for example. The site even tracks how many people have ordered each registered pizza so far, and consumers can view the database with the most popular pizzas first, as well as by newest, oldest or alphabetically. Top of the "most popular" list, incidentally, is the "Ciao Bella!" which has been ordered over 83,000 times.

Customization is a distinctly gravanity-stroking process, and the public element makes it even more so.* If pizza ordering can be made social, think how many other products and services can, too!

Website: www02.order.dominos.com/home/bfd

Spotted by: Ozgur Alaz

* From our sister-site’s 2003 briefing that coined the term gravanity: “trendwatching.com predicts museums selling sponsorships of even the smallest works of arts (or just the frames!), […] and Domino’s introducing pizzas named after cash-rich, attention-poor pizza lovers who will reveal their favourite toppings to the world.”

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February 4, 2008
 

Today's consumers may exhibit varying degrees of infolust for new products and services, but their interest doesn't often extend to direct mail. Enter Matter, which is taking an unconventional approach to direct marketing by sending out boxes of "interesting stuff" instead.

London-based Matter works with product manufacturers to compile collections of items carefully designed to please specific audiences, and it sends them out to consumers at no charge. Each participating company creates and contributes an item—something that explains what the company does, says something about its ideas or values, or can be tried out.

Matter then combines the items in a targeted fashion and sends them out so that they arrive on a Saturday—when consumers are more likely to spend some time with them. The pilot box, which just hit consumers' doorsteps on February 2nd, included items from Sony Ericsson, Stolichnaya, Nintendo, Nissan, Penguin and Virgin Atlantic, among others. Sony Ericsson's item, for example, was a small figurine of the Music Monster—a cultish figure intended to represent consumers' personal musical desires—packed in a straw-lined case complete with bite-marked brochure. Nissan's item was a set of "crayons" that are really soap—intended to send the message that the brand is not what consumers expect, according to the Matter blog. The next edition of Matter will be aimed at males aged 25-35 and is scheduled to ship out this summer.

Matter is a collaboration between Artomatic and Royal Mail, and it targets consumers in the UK only. One to experiment with in other parts of the world?

Website: www.matterbox.co.uk
Contact: contact@matterbox.co.uk

Spotted by: NOTCOT

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February 4, 2008
 

In the Philippines, text messaging has caught on in a huge way. Two years ago, according to Pyramid Research, the Southeast Asian archipelago became the first nation on the planet where network providers saw revenues from text messaging exceed what users spent on voice. With its Share-A-Load programme, Philippine network provider Globe Telecom has capitalized on the local love of SMS messages by allowing its customers to send their phone credit (or ‘load’) to someone else. Globe charges PHP 1 or about US .024 for each transaction, making its service an easy way for parents to send money to their children, for example, to make sure they’re able to stay in touch.

Both prepaid and postpaid subscribers can share their airtime or mobile wallet by typing in an amount and their pin code, and sending it to a 4 digit-number followed by the recipient’s mobile number. Upon receipt, the both recipient and sender receive a confirmation by text message.

SMS remains a technology with lots of potential applications waiting to be discovered and implemented—for everything from payment systems to information on demand. Given the mobile network operators’ strong desire to maximize profits, a good idea from a start-up has an excellent chance of getting heard.

Website: www.globe.com.ph

Spotted by: Jo-An Chua

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February 4, 2008
 

One of the challenges for charitable organizations large and small is to get potential donors to feel the need for help in an immediate and personal way. By selling t-shirts imprinted with the stories of the specific individuals in need of assistance, Rosa Loves raises the necessary funds while also giving donors a tangible connection with the people they have helped.

Each Rosa Loves t-shirt is created to help a specific person, family or community, and 60 percent of its sales go directly to providing that assistance. The story of those in need is told on each t-shirt through not just a graphical design on the outside, but also a written description of that story on the shirt's inside, just over the wearer's heart. T-shirts are hand-numbered and created in limited runs; once the needed amount has been raised for a particular cause, Rosa Loves stops printing and selling the associated t-shirt. A series of t-shirts over the holidays, for example, was designed to provide holiday meals to 10 families in the St. Augustine, Florida, area, where Rosa Loves is based. In just two weeks, the shirts sold out and Rosa Loves had enough funds to supply the needed meals.

The site's founders explain: "It's usually thoughts like, 'those people over there,' that perpetuate a sense of complacency and lack of concern. Rosa Loves wants to shed light on the stories around us, to give them a real face, a real name."

Rosa Loves was founded in 2006, and is still operating with just a part-time staff. But there's no arguing with its success stories. We've written before about companies that have begun to publish the "life stories" of their products (see, for example, Dole Organic's product life story labels), tapping into consumers' increasing demand for authenticity, transparency and information, and Rosa Loves brings that trend into the social arena. One for other socially focused organizations to emulate!

Website: www.rosaloves.com
Contact: info@rosaloves.com

Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann

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February 1, 2008
 

More than half a century ago, the Polaroid camera produced the world’s first instant printed images, spitting out photos just a minute after they were taken. And while today’s cell phones and digital cameras take snap shots that can be transmitted to other phones or computers instantly, people still have an old-fashioned desire to hold printed copies of their snapshots in their hands.

Proof: one of the biggest buzz-generating products to come out of this year’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show was a printer about the size of a deck of cards that can create 2x3 inch photos in under a minute. The printer is the result of a collaboration between Polaroid and Zink, another US firm that developed the device’s inkless printing technology. With a store-delivery date slated for this fall, the Digital Instant Mobile Photo Printer can be linked up via Bluetooth or USB to other portable media such as cell phones and digital cameras—all for a retail price of USD 150, plus USD 4 for a 10-pack of paper.

Granted, the instant mobile printer may not be as disruptive as the iPhone, but it does show creative entrepreneurs how an older company can neatly reinvent itself, even if it’s products have long been technologically leap-frogged. Polaroid’s pocket-sized printer harks back to the company’s original breakthrough, making media instantly available for sharing. It was an idea that spawned a small-scale social revolution as millions devised innovative uses for the product: everything from instant photos of wedding receptions to the identification-card making devices used by organizations and governments.

No doubt people will devise new uses for Polaroid’s minuscule printer. But the real lesson here is that there’s a wealth of opportunity to be mined in old ideas, provided you have the creativity and the capital required to reinvent them.

Website: www.polaroid.com/onthego
Contact: info.digitalinstant@polaroid.com

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February 1, 2008
 

Last month we wrote about TripIt, a site that coordinates diverse travel reservations into a single itinerary, and just last week a brand-new site launched that applies the same concept to package shipments. TrackMyShipments is a free service that keeps tabs on all of a consumer's shipped packages in one place.

Consumers who have ever ordered online are well-acquainted with the "Your Order Has Shipped" e-mails that companies send out when the package leaves their warehouse. The trouble with those, of course, is that to follow the package's progress subsequently, the consumer must dig out that e-mail and then cut and paste the tracking number into the shipper's website. With TrackMyShipments, on the other hand, consumers simply forward all those e-mails to track@trackmyshipments.com as they arrive. The TrackMyShipments system examines the e-mails, extracts the relevant information and keeps track of all those shipments in one place. It can then update the consumer via e-mail or SMS text message as to each shipment's location, status and any delays.

TrackMyShipments currently supports FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and DHL, but it says it's adding new shippers all the time. It also offers a White Label service to bring its functionality to providers' shipping systems. The California-based site is supported by ads and sponsorship.

TrackMyShipments has only been up 10 days or so, but it could find a devoted following among frequent shoppers as well as corporate buyers. One to adapt regionally!

Website: www.trackmyshipments.com
Contact: info@trackmyshipments.com

Spotted by: Ozgur Alaz

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February 1, 2008
 

It's not every day an innovation comes along that fundamentally changes the way consumers use a product, but colorOn and Eye Majic both appear to be achieving that feat with press-on eye shadow kits.

Applying traditional eye shadow well requires considerable skill, time and expertise with brushes, sponges or other applicators. Matching colours can also be tricky, and eye shadow cakes are prone to crumbling and spilling, leaving consumers with the potential for a mess. These new press-on eye shadow kits, on the other hand, allow consumers to instantly apply professionally created eye-shadow designs without applicators or mess. Each single-use kit is applied to the eyelid using a preprepared strip that contains a variety of matched and blended colours. Pressing the strip to the eyelid transfers the colours onto the eyelid in just the right shades, creating a look much like one a professional make-up artist might have created.

ColorOn, from Florida-based World Cosmetics, is available in a variety of colour schemes priced at USD 18 for a set of 5, or USD 30 for 10. Eight colour schemes are available—one even simulates animal prints, with zebra and leopard designs—along with a 10-pack of best-sellers. The products are available through select retailers or directly online. Australian Majic Beauty's Eye Majic, meanwhile, offers 12 colour combinations through select retailers worldwide. A 10-pack through US-based Home Shopping Network, for example, costs USD 19.95.

Distributors are still few and far between for both of these—one to get in on early if you’re in retail or cosmetics.

Websites: www.coloronpro.comwww.majicbeauty.com.au
Contact: info@worldcosmeticsllc.cominfo@majicbeauty.com.au

Spotted by: Bjarke Svendsen

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January 31, 2008
 

We've already covered numerous examples of women-only taxi services over the last year or so, and now the idea appears to be spreading to public transportation as well. In Mexico City, where millions of women bus riders have long endured groping and verbal abuse en route every day, a new, women-only bus service aims to create a safer and more comfortable ride.

Mexico City created women-only subway cars years ago, and police reportedly enforce the segregation at rush hour. Beginning earlier this month, however, the same concept has been brought to the city's crammed buses under what's known as the Athena Program. Equipped with pink signs on the front to distinguish them, Mexico City's 22 women-only buses currently serve three busy routes throughout the day, and plans are in the works to bring the total to 15 routes by April 2008. "Women were asking for this service because of the sexual harassment, especially groping and leering," Ariadna Montiel, CEO of the bus system, told the Associated Press.

Women-only buses and (subway) trains have also appeared in Egypt, India, Brazil, Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan, along with taxis in the UK, Russia, India, Dubai and Iran. This trend shows no sign of waning; next, in more car-centric locales, how about women-only parking garages...? (For more examples of how companies are targeting women, check out our sister-site trendwatching.com's female fever briefing.)

Website: www.rtp.gob.mx
Contact: tgonzalez@rtp.gob.mx

Spotted by: RK

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January 31, 2008
 

Customised content has long been held up as the Holy Grail of digital publishing, and idiomag is making that promise a reality with a personalised, daily digital magazine about music that is based entirely on members' individual interests.

Launched just over a year ago, UK-based idiomag uses a system of weighted tagging to customise both content and advertising to readers' personal musical tastes. Readers initially name their favourite music topics and weight the relative importance of each of them in the content they will view. idiomag then uses that information to serve articles, tracks, videos and other multimedia content in a high-quality, audio-visual virtual magazine format that readers can enjoy in page-by-page fashion. idiomag has content partnerships with publications including Billboard, 365mag and Hip Hop Nation as well as popular blogs such as Aurgasm and BlogCritics. It has also built up a large team of its own journalists across the UK. As readers rate the appeal of the content they view, idiomag intelligently adapts subsequent issues to reflect those changing preferences.

Not insignificantly, advertisers benefit from idiomag's personalisation system as well, with the ability to serve nonintrusive, full-screen and rich-media advertisements that closely match readers' interests. A newly incorporated social element, meanwhile, uses Facebook integration to let readers get their idiomag within the social networking site, view their friends’ magazines and capture articles they like, submit articles, and view trends and favourites among the other idiomag readers on the site. idiomag also offers widgets to incorporate the magazine on other social networks, blogs or home pages. Subscriptions to idiomag are free for readers; advertisers are charged on a CPM basis, and revenue is shared with content providers based on their content’s popularity.

When readers get the content they want and advertisers reach their target audiences in a targeted way, it really is hard to see a downside. One to bring to other niches, localities and topic areas!

Website: www.idiomag.com
Contact: andrew.davies@idiomag.com

Spotted by: Cagla Pakel

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January 31, 2008
 

If the current sub-prime lending crisis in the US and the UK proves anything, it’s that even traditional lenders can act irresponsibly, despite the myriad government regulations designed to hold them in check. That sobering fact, together with the tightening liquidity and a possible upcoming recession, should give a boost to so-called peer-to-peer lending. For the uninitiated, P2P lending websites directly match borrowers seeking relatively small amounts of cash with private individuals willing to lend them the money. Borrowers post their needs, lenders make offers and everyone benefits from bypassing lending’s traditional middlemen who package loans for a fee.

We first looked at P2P lending nearly three years ago when we profiled Zopa, a UK start-up which we described as “like eBay for money”. Since then we’ve covered other fast-growing P2P start-ups in the US, the Netherlands, Germany and China. And last week, Fynanz, which focuses solely on loans to students.

The latest entrant on our radar screen is Fosik, which brings P2P lending to Australia. Like its counterparts elsewhere, Fosik touts the benefits of using the site’s tools as a way to formalize lending arrangements among family members and friends. Plus, the site notes that investors—whether they know the people they’re lending to or not—can benefit from returns that reach 10 percent or higher.

Meanwhile, signs abound that the P2P lending is rapidly maturing. Prosper is seeking to create a secondary market around its loan portfolios. This would allow lenders to get quick cash by selling their loan portfolios to other investors. Is it too late for entrepreneurs to get into the P2P lending space? Probably not. Whether launching in new markets, targeting specific audiences or offering different types of financial services, there’s still plenty of room for peer-to-peer banking to grow.

Website: www.fosik.com.au
Contact: www.fosik.com.au/About/Contact.aspx

Spotted by: Tom Flaherty

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Just in case you missed our previous edition, all of last week's articles are listed below.

And don't forget—you can access everything we've published in our idea database, which is
conveniently organized by industry.


Wine bar's interfaceInteractive wine bar features goatskin display
Food & beverage

A shining example of ubiquitous computing just opened in New York's
St. Regis Hotel. A new hotel restaurant called Adour features an
elegant, technology-driven wine bar that lets patrons select and learn.


Club head with HOLZundEISEN logo (golfer standing on a car)New brand for a new sport: urban golf
Leisure & lifestyle

HOLZundEISEN -- German for wood and iron -- sells equipment for a
sport that's taking off in cities around the world: urban golf. Thanks to
the irreverent brand, urban golfers now have their own gear.


Sleep-In logoSoccer fans to share beds at Euro 2008
Travel & tourism

With hooligans grabbing the spotlight more often than not, warm and
cozy aren’t terms that are normally associated with fans of European
soccer. A new Swiss venture called Sleep-In could change that.


Woman in suit (looks happy)Job site for high earners
Marketing & advertising

We've always said everything can be upgraded and the recruiting
industry is no exception. To wit: TheLadders, a job site created
exclusively for high earners looking for jobs paying at least USD 100K.


Shiny silver model of a DNA strandPremium genome mapping service
Lifestyle & leisure

Personal gene sequencing may be just beginning to make its way into
the mainstream commercial world, but it's already getting upgraded.
Witness Knome, which offers whole-genome mapping for USD 350K.


Lowdown, frontal shot of a white car
Used cars & price transparency
Automotive

Of all the markets that could benefit from increased price transparency,
the one for used cars surely ranks near the very top. PriceHub gives
used-car buyers access to real, current car transaction prices.


Part of Youbar package Custom-made energy bars
Food & beverage

Last year we covered muesli that's mixed to order, and now You Bar
has brought another customizable food to the table with its design-
your-own nutrition bars.


Recruitment banner from haveyougotthenerve.tv Crowd-managed TV production company
Entertainment / Media & publishing

Have You Got The Nerve aims to be a new type of television production
company: one that's created, lead and inspired by a group of 3,000
executive producers.


Big, floating chromosome surrounded by smaller chromosomesDNA-driven dating service
Lifestyle & leisure

'Personal chemistry' has long been a blanket term for all the things
that make people compatible (or not). Now, Boston-based Scientific-
Match is using DNA to assess human chemistry for dating purposes.


Man in big, round glasses holding a wad of cashPeer-to-peer student loans
Financial services / Education

Peer-to-peer lending is no longer a new concept. But while most
facilitate general-purpose lending, Fynanz is taking a niche approach
with a service dedicated to funding student loans.

 

 


 

 

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