Innovation That Matters

Five (more) businesses selling personalised products


Over the past seven years, we’ve covered dozens of businesses that let customers design or personalise products. People love having it their way, and entrepreneurs can gain a competitive advantage by combining offline manufacturing with online sales and personalisation. Five recent spottings: 1. THE MAGICAL STORY MACHINE — For GBP 5.95 or less, the Magical Story machine allows users to record their own children’s audiobook, along with a personal message. Users pick from a selection of popular children’s stories, then record the words online using their computer’s microphone and a web-based autocue tool. Appropriate sound effects and music are automatically mixed in with the storyteller’s voice, and the result is made available for download as an MP3 file. 2. I AM A STUFFED ANIMAL — I Am A Stuffed Animal makes cuddly toys that resemble caricatures of real people. Users send in one or more photos of themselves (or whoever they want parodied) and some descriptive information such as interests and clothing choices. The stuffed Mini Me is then delivered within four to six weeks; a little more if the destination is outside the United States. The price? USD 69. 3. QUILTCREATOR — allows consumers to come up with their own unique bed quilt by choosing from a wide range of themes, patterns and colours, using a drag-and-drop tool. Six to eight weeks later they’ll receive a hand-crafted, 100% cotton quilt that matches their design. 4. EDELWISER — In a similar vein but a very different field, Edelwiser Ski lets users design the livery for the top layer of skis purchased from the Austrian company. Full-colour graphics can feature artwork, images and text. There are also downloadable templates for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator if users to prefer to do their graphic design using familiar software. 5. FLUID FORMS — Also from Austria, Fluid Forms is a design label that specialises in using CNC technology to create products customised by customer input. Their latest line is Streets Earrings: jewellery featuring an etched map of any location that’s special to the earrings’ future wearer. Like most personalisation concepts we’ve covered, it’s all done with an easy-to-use web tool. Spotters: Martina Meng, Judy McRae, Dave Lueder, Dietfried Globocnik


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