This week's edition is extra long: 20 new business ideas for you to be inspired by, to partner with, or to bring to your neck of the woods. It's a varied batch—from event planners focusing on wedding rehearsal dinners, to garden offices for telecommuters, to a fragmented hotel.

Our next edition is due on 1 April 2009. If you can't wait that long, why not check out our daily posts on www.springwise.com? (Other easy ways to stay up-to-date: follow us on Twitter, or add our RSS feed to your reader.)

 

 
 

 
March 25, 2009
 

The downside of a great hotel is that it makes it too easy for a traveller to stay inside and miss out on experiencing the local culture. The Austrian city of Linz is tackling that issue by scattering unique individual hotel lodgings throughout the city’s metropolitan area, in effect turning the entire city into a one large hotel—a Pixelhotel.

The Pixelhotel project is one of the city’s attempts, as 2009 European Capital of Culture, to lure tourists to Linz by using creative and sustainable approaches to architecture. The locations chosen for redesign are unorthodox, from a cabinetmaker’s workshop and a ship to an art gallery. Each unique unit has its own specific aesthetic to make it a one-of-a-kind hotel experience. Lacking regular hotel infrastructure, the units provide minimal amenities only, as a way of encouraging tourists to go out and explore Linz. Prices range from EUR 87 for a single room to EUR 147 for a double.

Linz’s mini hotel ‘pixels’ aren't quite pop-up hotels, but their flexible approach to accommodation shares that same spirit of surprise and creativity. Other innovative cities and businesses—time to consider transforming a few unused spaces? (Related: Free accommodation for visiting creativesSwiss bomb shelter becomes 'zero star' hotel.)

Website: www.pixelhotel.at
Contact: office@pixelhotel.at

Spotted by: Martina Meng and Tais Reis

 

 

 


 
March 25, 2009
 



In these budget-minded times, companies aplenty have begun offering cash or trade-ins in exchange for unwanted electronics, gift cards and gold. Now, from none other than Amazon, comes a program to offer gift cards in exchange for second-hand video games.

To be eligible, games must be in good condition and include the original manual, cover art and case. Amazon's Video Game Trade-In site lists a wide variety of games it will accept, along with their trade-in values. For Wii, for example, "Marvel Ultimate Alliance" is valued at USD 6, "Winter Sports the Ultimate Challenge" brings in USD 6.50 and "Super Paper Mario" is valued at USD 15.50. On Xbox 360, on the other hand, "Call of Duty: World at War" brings in USD 24.25. For shipments valued at USD 10 or more, Amazon even gives consumers a way to ship them for free. Upon receipt, Amazon deposits an Amazon.com Gift Card into the consumer's account. The games, meanwhile, are ultimately purchased by a third-party merchant. While trade-in prices might not be as high as a seller can get on eBay, there's no denying that Amazon's service is the more convenient option.

Until economic conditions begin to improve, consumers will continue to seek out recession-busting strategies to make their hard-won dollars, euros and yen go further. Help them do that, and you just may be able to do some recession-busting yourself! ;-)

Website: www.amazon.com/Video-Games-Trade-In/b/ref=amb_link_83819451_2?ie=UTF8&node=979418011
Contact: www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us/general-questions.html

Spotted by: Bjorn Verbrugghe

 

 

 


 
March 24, 2009
 

Roller coasters and ferris wheels are all very well as entertainment for some groups of consumers, but for others, there's nothing quite like the experience of operating heavy machinery. That, at least, is the premise behind Männerspielplatz, an amusement park for men that lets them get in touch with their inner construction worker.

For EUR 219, visitors to Männerspielplatz can shed their office trappings and get seriously dirty while playing with excavators, wheel loaders, Caterpillars, quads, Jeeps and more. The park, which is situated in an old factory site just outside Kassel, Germany, offers 18 stations for visitors to enjoy to their heart's content. Challenges include using a Komatsu Hanomag excavator to move huge stones; leveling the ground with a bulldozer; off-road riding on a Quad Unimog; and participating in an archery course. Participants must be at least 18 years old. A Class B license is required, and admission is limited to minimize waiting times.

By gratifying a lifelong fantasy that seems fairly universal among boys and men, Männerspielplatz provides an experience that could be taken directly from the pages of Pine and Gilmore's Experience Economy. It's also ripe for emulation in other parts of the world—one to bring to "Tim 'the Tool Man' Taylor" fans at a construction site near you...? (Related: Amusement park puts kids to workPaying to break stuff at Sarah's Smash ShackA man's kitchen.)

Website: www.maennerspielplatz.de
Contact: www.maennerspielplatz.de/kontakt.php

Spotted by: Wired via Judy McRae

 

 

 


 
March 24, 2009
 

There's nothing like immediacy and a sense of personal connection to motivate people to help those in need, as charitable organizations like Family-to-Family, Rosa Loves and DonorsChoose.org are increasingly recognizing. Adding to that list, SmallCanBeBig.org is a new, donated venture that aims to make it easy for people to help local families on the verge of losing their homes.

Launched last fall, SmallCanBeBig was formed on the premise that small donations can add up to a big difference for many families on the brink of disaster. The Massachusetts-based organization has partnered with a variety of longstanding charities in the state, and those groups recommend cases where a relatively modest one-time donation could save a family's home—typically situations where a single, urgent payment for mortgage or utilities is needed. Visitors to the site can then browse the stories of the families in need and donate as little as USD 1 toward helping one of them through Google Checkout. The entire amount of any donation goes directly to helping the selected family, and once that family's one-time need is met, its story is removed from the site. Donors, meanwhile, can track their donations online and check back on the status of the families they've helped.

Much like Bushfire Housing—the donated effort we wrote about last month that aims to help the victims of Australia's recent devastating fires—SmallCanBeBig was created an agency. Boston-area Boathouse Group launched the site as a volunteer effort to help those endangered by the current economic crisis. And indeed, given the prevalence of hard times these days, there's no shortage of opportunities for companies to display the corporate generosity that's now expected of them by Generation G. Check out our sister site's briefing on the topic, and start giving back! (Related: Helping travellers help local organisations.)

Website: www.smallcanbebig.org
Contact: info@smallcanbebig.org

Spotted by: Alexandra Eurdolian

 

 

 


 
March 23, 2009
 

Back in 2006 we wrote about iscape, a British company that manufactured stand-alone offices for installation in the user's home garden. The company since merged with rival Garden Lodges and has begun offering an expanded line, but now it's also gained a new competitor: the OfficePOD.

Whereas Garden Lodges aims its offices and other structures primarily at consumers, the OfficePOD focuses on employers who want to give their staff the option of working at home. The unit is a 2.1-by-2.1-metre structure that can be installed in less than a day and typically requires no planning consent. Designed to maximize efficiency in its use of space, the OfficePOD features innovative storage and desktop solutions using high-quality materials chosen for their visual, physical and environmental characteristics. Recycled and recyclable products have been used wherever possible and natural materials chosen over man-made. Power is provided via a protected connection to the house or garage; IT and phone connectivity are generally wireless but can be similarly cabled. The POD satisfies the most stringent energy performance benchmarks with its low energy consumption, high levels of insulation and innovative cooling system. Also included on the OfficePOD is a secure locking system. The OfficePOD is available to employers through a flexible leasing arrangement with full service including all surveys, enabling work, installation, help-desk support, health and safety assessments, repairs and removal. Pricing is GBP 5,000 per POD per year, and general availability will begin January 2010.

There's no shortage of arguments in favour of flexible work arrangements, ranging from financial and environmental considerations to workers' quality of life. For employers, the OfficePOD can even create demonstrable property cost savings of GBP 9,000 or more per employee per year, its maker says. The OfficePOD will be officially debuted in London later this month; one to check out, partner with, or otherwise get in on early....?

Website: www.officepod.co.uk
Contact: enquiries@officepod.co.uk

 

 

 


 
March 23, 2009
 

We've already featured bike-sharing schemes in Paris and other cities in Europe and North America, and recently we spotted a few like-minded efforts popping up in Asia.

First, at the start of this month Taiwan's Kaohsiung City launched its first self-service bicycle rental system, with 1,500 bikes available for rent at 20 transit points around the city. Operated by Tung Li Development Co., the service is accessible via membership—members pay a lump-sum fee in advance and use their membership cards to rent bikes—as well as to nonmembers, who can pay via credit card. Bikes are free to members for the first 30 minutes and TWD 10 for each subsequent 30 minutes, with a maximum of TWD 230 for 12 hours or more; for nonmembers, renting a bike costs TWD 30 for the first 30 minutes and TWD 15 for each half-hour thereafter, with a maximum of TWD 375. Ultimately, the service will be expanded to 50 rental sites along Kaohsiung City's mass-transit route, offering 4,500 bicycles for rent.

In Taipei, meanwhile, the city's YouBike effort kicked off just a week or so ago with a fleet of Giant-manufactured bicycles available at bicycle parking meters in five areas around the city. Six more rental spots will be added beginning next month, the China Post reported. Sponsored in part by Cardif Assurance Vie and its parent company, BNP Paribas Group, the YouBike Public Bicycle System uses the city's EasyCard as its membership card. Users simply place their EasyCard on the sensor zone of the bicycle parking meter; a green 'Take Bicycle' light then switches on, allowing the user to pull the RFID-equipped bike from the rack. The first 30 minutes of each rental session is free; after that, each additional 15 minutes costs TWD 10. Google Maps technology on the official YouBike website allows users to check availability in advance.

Similar programs have also recently launched in Changwon, Korea, and in Hangzhou, China, according to reports in The Daily Transit and the Bike-Sharing Blog. And no wonder, given the respite they offer from urban congestion, rising fuel costs and environmental concerns. There's no end in sight to the continuing spread of bike-sharing programs—or to the opportunities for potential sponsors. One to support in a two-wheeling city near you?

Websites: www.tinyurl.com/kaohsiungbikeswww.youbike.com.twwww.hzzxc.com.cn

 

 

 


 
March 20, 2009
 

From unused parking spaces to extra beds to arable land suitable for gardening, consumers are increasingly finding new, recession-busting ways to make the most of what they have. While we've covered several examples of marketplaces that focus on one of those sharable assets, we hadn't yet seen Spareground, a UK-based contender that aims to cover them all.

Spareground bills itself as "the one-stop shop for finding somewhere to store your sports equipment, keep your caravan for the winter, park your car, graze your horse, find somewhere to display your art or find somewhere to stay near that sports event or festival." In essence, it's a place to advertise or look for just about any kind of unused space, including accommodations, parking spaces, driveways, garages, storage facilities such as attics or sheds, unused land, spare rooms or car share spaces. The site is free to use by both businesses and individuals, and space is organised by category: property, land, parking, storage or other. Consumers with space to share simply create a listing with its description, location and price; those seeking space search by category or keyword and then contact the owner directly to arrange the terms. "Space wanted" ads are also available.

Launched last summer, ad-supported Spareground hopes to expand beyond the UK in the near future. Given the current economic woes around the globe, it's fairly sure there will be healthy demand. One to get in on early in a market near you...?

Website: www.spareground.com
Contact: mail@spareground.com

Spotted by: Rachael Mallender

 

 

 


 
March 20, 2009
 

Fitness gyms have been nichefying for some time now, as we noted in a post back in 2005. Adding a new twist to workouts for women, however, is a class from Reebok and Cirque du Soleil that simulates the feeling of flying.

Jukari Fit to Fly is a group exercise experience based on a new piece of equipment called the FlySet. Much like a free-hanging trapeze, the FlySet can be used for swinging, jumping, hanging, kicking, pulling up and strengthening. The equipment consists of a durable, three-stranded rope fixed to the ceiling with a 360-degree swivel point and an attachable FlyBar. Using that equipment, Fit to Fly classes offer an hour-long total body workout of cardio, strength, balance and core training for up to 12 people that's designed to provide a cure for the "workout blues." Reebok explains: "You'll flex and flutter, sweat and stretch, and swing from a FlySet. It's all about moving your body in a fun new way." Jukari Fit to Fly is named from a world dialect word meaning "to play" and is just the first in a series of special projects to result from Reebok's new partnership with Cirque du Soleil, the company says. The program is already available at Pure Fitness in Krakow, Poland, and Equinox in New York City, and will be opening soon in Hong Kong, Mexico City, Madrid, London, Munich, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Montreal and Los Angeles. Coming later this month is also a collection of workout clothing for women tailored to the Jukari Fit to Fly experience.

More than half of all women feel exercise is a chore, and nearly two-thirds would work out more if it was more fun, according to Reebok's research. How else could a dose of fun be added to the workout experience—for women, men or kids? (Related: Gyms for kids use gaming to keep them hooked.)

Website: www.reebok.com/US/#/womens?view=jukariHome
Contact: www.reebok.com/US/customer-service/contact-us

Spotted by: Adverlab via Raymond Kollau

 

 

 


 
March 20, 2009
 

If e-mail signatures can be put to work to help support a political candidate, just imagine the impact they could make for charity. That's essentially the rationale behind Replyforall, a site that uses custom e-mail signatures to raise not just awareness but cold, hard cash for a select group of charitable causes.

San Francisco-based Replyforall gives users a way to raise money for their favourite causes by simply adding a tailored signature to the e-mails they normally send. The service is currently available for Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail / WindowsLive / MSN—with others coming soon—and it's completely free for users. Cause-minded people need only sign up on the site and choose the cause they want to support. The signature they create will show that cause along with Replyforall's participating financial sponsor, and it can also be personalized to include additional elements such as a rotating fact associated with their cause, a school club or the user's contact information. Either way, the result is that when users send e-mails, their Replyforall signature is automatically inserted into their messages (it is possible to omit it for select messages, however). Sponsors pay to reach users and their recipients, and Replyforall shares sponsors' payments proportionately among the causes users have selected. Users can track the impact of their own support via a personal impact page. Replyforall, meanwhile, donates funds to the causes every quarter and regularly reports back with the impact of those donations.

Sponsors on the site include Virgin Mobile, TOMS Shoes, The Body Shop and confectioner sweetriot, while causes include the ASPCA, Wildlife Trust, the Clean Energy Coalition and Engineers without Borders. Replyforall is actively seeking more sponsors. One to team up with for a better world—and better image? ;-) (Related: Viral music sales through widgets.)

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

Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann

 

 

 


 
March 19, 2009
 

Dogs can wear a SNIF Tag to help their owners make new friends; now pet owners can return the favour by using Dogtree, a social networking site designed especially for dogs.

Australian Dogtree is a free service that aims to help dog owners find playmates and walking friends for their canine companions. To search for doggie friends, human users can simply enter their postal code; more advanced search options are also available, such as breed and size. Either way, the result is a list of other suitable canine members in their area. Once they find some that seem like a good match, dog owners can invite them through the site for a playdate or meeting. There are currently almost 600 members on Dogtree, and most elect to use their dog's photo and name as their username on the site.

Need we say more? Now that social networking has covered most of the developed world's human population, niche applications are coming fast and furious—and even extending to some of mankind's best friends. Cats may be less amenable to the social networking experience, we suspect, but how long before this comes to other sociable species? Advertisers of related products: get ready, or get involved!

Website: www.dogtree.com.au
Contact: www.dogtree.com.au/help_contact.php

Spotted by: Judy McRae

 

 

 


 
March 18, 2009
 

We’ve covered several food brands that provide consumers with detailed information on the sources and background of their spinach, bananas and coffee. It’s a trend that continues to pick up steam, as witnessed by condiment maker Beerenberg’s introduction of Provenance Pathway, an online tool that lets customers trace their jam or sauce from ‘soil to shelf’.

After purchasing a Beerenberg product, customers enter the item’s barcode and expiration date on the company’s website. An overview of the product appears, including photos of the people who made it, full product specifications, and an elegant implementation of Google Earth to map the farms where the main ingredients originated. Launched this month, Provenance Pathway is part of the Australian company’s recent revamp to underscore the ‘home-made’ authenticity of its brand. Despite being a major food manufacturer, Beerenberg wants to emphasize that its traditional recipes are still cooked in open steam kettles, free from artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.

Now that major brands are tapping into the power of transparency to emphasize their grass-roots qualities, it will be interesting to see just what the grass-roots companies do. ;-)

Website: www.beerenberg.com.au
Contact: admin@beerenberg.com.au

 

 

 


 
March 17, 2009
 

Sites that feature user reviews, photos and descriptions have already brought transparency to hotel rooms and airplane seats, to name just two of our favourite examples. Now the KaBOOM! Playspace Finder is bringing a similar type of openness to the world of playgrounds.

The KaBOOM! Playspace Finder, currently in beta, is a user-generated online directory from playground-focused nonprofit KaBOOM! that lets anyone enter, search for and rate play spaces in their community. Using the free site, parents, kids and community members in general can locate playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields and even ice rinks across North America. Some 11,800 play areas are listed on the Google Maps-based site, which can be searched by region or name; a search filter lets users focus in on specific types of parks. Users can also add photos and comments for each play space, as well as detailed descriptions including the playground equipment or amenities that are available there and an overall estimation of the spot's "play value." Community service credit and Girl Scout patches are even available for contributing to the Playspace Finder, KaBOOM! says. Ultimately, the Washington, D.C.-based group hopes the site will help alert local communities to recreational areas that need some help.

Darell Hammond, KaBOOM!'s cofounder and CEO, explains: “Play is a vital component of a child’s life, contributing to their physical, emotional, mental and social development. In light of our work and our vision, we felt it was our duty to provide a resource for locating great places to play. However, the success of this project relies upon people across the country providing data and reviews about their parks. So, get out to a park and play, but then come back and tell everyone about your experience—good or bad.”

Supported through a sponsorship by Kool-Aid, KaBOOM!'s Playspace Finder is yet another testament to the power of transparency to make things better. One to emulate in other parts of the world? (Related: Local tips for parents.)

Website: playspacefinder.kaboom.org
Contact: playspacefinder.kaboom.org/contact

Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann

 

 

 


 
March 17, 2009
 

Asian consumers who like to try before they buy can already do so at product-sampling centers such as Sampleplaza, Club C and Sample Lab. Hard on the heels of Sample Lab's announcement that it's expanding globally, a like-minded contender is now gearing up to open across the world.

Sample U is housed on the San Diego campus of Alliant International University through a joint effort with the institution to offer new market research opportunities. Alliant is providing the facility and staff—professors and students among them—while Sample U is focusing on securing clients, working with product developers on product packages or campaigns, and bringing in consumers. A variety of products will be tested at Sample U, and consumers interested in sampling them will first be asked to fill out detailed profiles for demographic information; eventually, interested consumers will be given memberships at the lab, Sample U says. Following a session at Sample U, which includes completing a survey about the tested products, testers will also be given some to take home and discuss with friends. Sample U already opened briefly to test its concept, but had to close early due to overwhelming demand, it says. It will launch officially in June.

Mass-media advertising may have had its day, but now it's a rare consumer who wouldn't rather try the product out themselves. From Shanghai to San Diego and everyplace in between, the world is filled with trysumers eager for some tryvertising. How about obliging them in your neck of the woods...?

Website: www.sample-u.com
Contact: m.adams@sample-u.com

 

 

 


 
March 17, 2009
 

It’s the car-buying equivalent of being handed a cute puppy, knowing you can give it back if you don’t want it: Renault is hoping that once consumers spend a weekend with its new Mégane Hatch, they'll want to keep it. UK residents can log on to Renault’s extended test drive site to choose whether to try out a car for 24 hours on a weekday, or from Friday evening to Monday morning to get a real sense of ownership. To make the experience even easier, the car is delivered to and collected from test drivers' houses.

The offer is managed in partnership with Avis, who deal directly with customers and take responsibility for car deliveries. The system was initially set up to encourage busy company car drivers to test drive the Mégane. However, realising the appeal of the offer, Renault has opened it up to retail customers as well.

In tough times, getting as close as possible to consumers is a smart move, especially if you can partner with another brand to handle logistics, as Renault has done with Avis. For other generous examples of try-before-you-buy, check out the tryvertising section of trendwatching.com’s Generation G briefing.

Website: www.renault24td.co.uk
Contact: +44 (0) 845 609 0414

Spotted by: Raymond Kollau

 

 

 


 
March 16, 2009
 

Most people who suffer from arthritis, asthma or cardiovascular disease are aware that their well-being can be affected by the weather. Developed to warn them in advance, MediClim emails registered users when changes in humidity, pollen count, barometric pressure and temperature might change how they feel.

The story began back in the eighties, when Dr. John Bart noticed his patients complaining of the same ailments on the same days. He paired up with meteorologist Dennis Bourque to produce an index that maps weather conditions and related health problems. And in 2008, Bart and Bourque gave the index new functionality by incorporating it into an email alert system. Subscribers sign up on the website, and complete a brief medical questionnaire. On days with weather conditions that are expected to trigger health problems, subscribers receive an email, or an alert through MediClim’s Facebook application.

MediClim is a free service currently available to anyone in North America and the UK. One for a pharmaceutical company to sponsor or introduce to other regions? (Related: Car insurer alerts clients by text message when roads get icy.)

Website: www.mediclim.com
Contact: www.mediclim.com/contact-us

Spotted by: Ozgur Alaz

 

 

 


 
March 16, 2009
 

TerraCycle and its ever-expanding list of eco-innovations have once again caught our eye. Not satisfied with simply making eco-fertilizer from organic waste and worm poop or turning old wrappers into eco-chic bags and accessories, the US-based company has now introduced a non-recyclable packaging collection system in several American big-box chain stores.

The collection project first began in 2007, letting the public (most often civic groups or schools) set up collection points for packaging and other waste. TerraCycle donates USD 0.02–0.06 to the charity of the collector’s choice for each unit that enters the system. The benefit for TerraCycle: a warm, fuzzy planet-saving glow, and a source of raw material for the upcycled products it sells, including pencil cases, lunch boxes and corkboards.

Now, two years later, the program is making its way into thousands of retail locations across America, thanks to partnerships with major chains like PETCO, OfficeMax, Home Depot and Best Buy. The ultimate plan is to establish permanent collection points in all of these chains’ stores nationwide, aiming for 10,000 retail locations by 2010. Consumers who live too far from one of the retail drop-offs can sign up to collect waste themselves.

Although coupling with major chains might seem to conflict with TerraCycle's grass-roots ethics, it's a highly effective way of scaling up their operation. It's not a bad deal for the retailers either, cutting a better profile where sustainability is concerned. A win-win for all concerned. Something to start up in other eco-minded regions?

Website: www.terracycle.net
Contact: info@terracycle.net

Spotted by: Treehugger via Raymond Kollau

 

 

 


 
March 13, 2009
 

The web is already home to sites galore that offer educational games to make learning fun, but a new one is adding a slightly different twist by incorporating a way to motivate kids with virtual and real-world rewards.

SmartyCard
offers what it calls the world's first "learn, earn and play" experience by rewarding kids for completing educational games with prizes from popular vendors and family sites such as iTunes, Club Penguin, WebKinz, Star Doll and BellaSara. Created by executives from the family entertainment, educational content and toy industries, SmartyCard.com features bite-sized learning activities from supplemental education leaders Learnstar, Ignite and Learning.com. Activities are designed for kids in grades 3 through 6 and cover subjects including reading, writing, math, social studies and science. Kids begin by creating an account with their parents, who purchase a SmartyCard for them, priced beginning at USD 10 for 5,000 points on the site. They then choose from among the site's thousands of activities and games, taking a quiz at the end of each to assess how much they learned. For scores of 70 percent or higher, the child "unlocks" some of the points on their card—how many depends on the difficulty of the activity—and can redeem them for subscriptions and virtual currency in popular online worlds such as WebKinz, or for physical items including CDs, toys, video games, books, crafts, science kits and DVDs, which can be shipped to their home.

California-based SmartyCard is currently seeking more partners for education and rewards. At the moment the site is also available only in English. One to partner with or localize for other parts of the world....? (Related: Online space for kids, teachers & parents.)

Website: www.smartycard.com
Contact: customerservice@smartycard.com

Spotted by: Ozgur Alaz

 

 

 


 
March 13, 2009
 

Traditionally, the rehearsal dinner is an opportunity for a couple to thank everyone who’s making their wedding possible, and to share time with their closest friends and family. However, the dinner is often the last thing they turn their attention to. Aiming to deliver a stress-free, memorable pre-wedding celebration, Well Rehearsed is an event planning company that focuses solely on rehearsal dinners.

Two main packages are on offer: the first helps the couple plan the party and leaves them to choose vendors, the second takes everything off their hands and lets them focus on everything else wedding-related. Based in San Francisco, Well Rehearsed mainly works in the Bay Area, although it can organize an event remotely for further-flung customers.

Event planning is a highly competitive industry. By focusing on an often-overlooked element that can be outsourced separately from the rest of the wedding, Well Rehearsed has carved out an appealing and potentially lucrative niche.

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

Spotted by: Alexia Clements

 

trendwatching.com trend briefing
 

 

 


 
March 12, 2009
 

The wisdom of the crowds has already been put to work to improve product design, provide personal style advice and resolve marital disputes, so why not use it to tackle the economy, too? In Ireland, a new grassroots initiative is aiming to do just that through a campaign to solicit ideas for economic recovery.

Launched just a week ago, the Ideas Campaign is asking the citizens of Ireland to propose innovative ideas to boost economic activity in the country across 19 key areas including manufacturing, technology, construction, retail and education. Ideas that will enrich the country through the arts, sports, and volunteer and community activity are being solicited too. Launched by businesswoman Aileen O’Toole, the campaign is an independent and nonpolitical effort funded by O’Toole’s business, AMAS. In addition to contributing practical ideas, visitors to the campaign's website can also leave messages of support. The campaign will run until 31 March. In April, its coordinators will use the ideas received to deliver an action plan to government with aggressive timelines for execution; an advisory group including senior figures from business, academia, economics and the public sector will participate at that point to ensure that recommendations are both pragmatic and achievable.

Within the first 24 hours of the campaign's launch, more than 450 people had submitted ideas on the site. Within just five days, more than 1,200 proposals had been made—a selection of which are posted on the site. All of which goes to show, of course, that there's never a shortage of ideas—on virtually any topic—when you ask the crowds. Ask, and you shall receive; don't ask, and you just might miss out on a winning idea. One to watch!

Website: www.ideascampaign.ie
Contact: info@ideascampaign.ie

Spotted by: Jonathan Kyle

 

 

 


 
March 12, 2009
 

More than 15 billion pieces of paper mail are sent in the United States each month, at considerable cost both to senders and to the environment. Zumbox hopes to change all that with a new, paperless alternative to the U.S. Mail.

California-based Zumbox has created an online mailbox for every street address in the US, including residences and businesses alike. So, anyone in the country can begin using Zumbox immediately on the web to send and receive all-digital mail for free. Senders simply upload an electronic document—Word and PDF are both supported, as are interactive formats like HTML, Flash, audio and video—and specify the recipient's street address. That mail then gets sent to the recipient's Zumbox electronically. At the other end, recipients see an image of an envelope and click on it to open it. They're then shown what looks like a duplicate version of what they'd normally find in their traditional mailbox.

Any content that can be printed can also be sent via Zumbox, including bills, statements, purchase orders, and other accounting documents, and senders can even incorporate a "Pay Now" button that links to the payment system of their choice. Zumbox has also implemented bank-level security, and is compliant with the security standards of the financial, healthcare, and banking industries. Analytics are available to help marketers track mailings and campaigns. Perhaps best of all, Zumbox relieves organizations interested in reducing their paper usage from the near-impossible task of gaining and updating recipients' email addresses. Receiving mail via Zumbox is free for everyone. Advertisers and marketers must pay USD 0.05 per street address to send mail through the service, as must individuals who want to send mail to more than 50 addresses per month.

Zumbox launched into limited public beta last month, and it will clearly take time before significant numbers of users sign on. One also has to wonder what would stop consumers from using Zumbox just as a catch-all for the mail they don't actually want to receive, keeping all those marketing offers and other "junk mail" out of their traditional mailboxes. Still, the paperless potential makes Zumbox an intriguing new contender. One to watch, try out, or get in on early...? (Related: Snail mail app for Facebook usersSend an email to post a letterFree snail mail, sponsored by advertisers.)

Website: beta.zumbox.com
Contact: bizdev@zumbox.com

Spotted by: Treehugger via Raymond Kollau

 

 

 



Just in case you missed it, we've included our previous edition below.

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


MartiniNo-waiting, no-standing policy at new D.C. bar
Food & beverage

Catering to customers who are tired of queuing outside clubs
before elbowing their way to the bar, The Gibson is a pseudo-
speakeasy with a no-waiting and no-standing policy.


Illustration of three banks and a pile of moneyIn online auction, banks bid on consumer savings
Financial services

Instead of researching which bank offers the highest interest rate,
Dutch consumers can now put their money up for auction, getting
banks to bid on their savings.


College student lifting a couchCollege hunks hauling junk; foxes packing boxes
Homes & housing

Epitomizing the brand name that says it all, College Hunks Hauling
Junk has grown from a temporary summer gig into a multi-truck,
multimillion-dollar franchised business.


Stack of resumesFedEx offers free resume printing today
Marketing & advertising

Earlier this week, FedEx Office (formerly known as Kinko's) extended
a helping hand to job seekers: free resume printing at any of the
1,600+ stores FedEx Office stores across the United States.


Notebook featuring a zombie kittyPrinting company targets minipreneurs with new notebook
Style & design

An Oregon-based printing and publishing company recently launched
a Moleskine-alternative that offers the added appeal of eco credentials
and customizability, and squarely targets (artistic) minipreneurs.


Akoha card asking holder to give someone a bookOnline game focuses on real-world kindness
Non-profit / Social cause

Akoha is a new, reality-based game that uses mobile, web and
real-world challenges to ask the question, “What if playing a game
could make the world a better place?”


T-shirt that reads "Wanna start a commune?"Promoting a fresh take on communal living
Homes & housing

The word "commune" may connote images of long-haired hippies
and failed social experiments, but in today's ailing economy, that's
no reason to abandon the concept altogether.


Street corner, BrooklynHyperlocal news from The New York Times
Media & publishing

The Local, which was just launched by The New York Times, will
feature posts by both NYT journalists and community members alike
about day-to-day life in five neighbourhoods.


Kogi BBQ truckTaco truck with a Korean twist, fueled by Twitter
Food & beverage

Kogi BBQ serves Korean-style Mexican food from two trucks that are
always on the go to new locations in the LA area. To find out where
to get their Korean taco fix, customers follow Kogi on Twitter.


Car on a wintry roadInsurer alerts clients by txt msg when roads get icy
Financial services / Automotive

As soon as warnings are issued about weather that could make driving
hazardous, Dutch car insurer Onna-onna sends its clients a text
message advising them to be extra alert or even stay off the road.

 

 

 

 

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