Another week, another hand-picked selection of interesting new business ideas from around the world: ultra premium juice from Singapore, a music & technology school in San Francisco, handvertising in the Netherlands, beach barbecues on call in Copenhagen, and more. Our next edition is due on 19 September 2007. 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!
At Bird, music and technology come together. The San Francisco-based school of music encourages students to use the latest technology to enhance their musical creativity. Providing instrumental instruction and band supervision to children and teens, Bird goes beyond traditional lessons. "Working with the latest digital audio workstations, all experience levels have the ability to archive their songs, jams and lessons. In addition to vital old-school knowledge like setting up amps and other analogue equipment, students gain an understanding of computer-based music recording equipment and software."
The only thing we're missing, is workshops on how to promote newly recorded songs and videos on YouTube, MySpace and SellaBand. Business opps? Setting up (or relaunching) music schools as centres of music + community + technology, as Bird describes itself. Legions of young people have entered a world where almost anyone can reach a certain level of stardom without having to beg and pray for an A&R rep to listen to their demo tape. Which means there are plenty of opportunities for facilitators that help them acquire good-old fashioned technique and enable them to create high-quality sound recordings to upload to the online music arena du jour. (Oh, and it can't hurt to throw in some physical activity—Bird offers yoga, too.)
Last year, we featured Passout Marketing, an Australian start-up that focuses on a previously unused piece of advertising real estate: passout stamps, the stamps that are inked on customers' hands to show they've paid admission for a club, or are of legal drinking age.
Prompted by our recent post on skinvertising, Colin de Vries of Handvertising emailed to inform us that he's brought advertising on passout stamps to the Netherlands. (To our intense dismay, he hadn't spotted the concept on Springwise.) As we mentioned in our post about Passout Marketing, it's a relatively easy business to set up, once you've a) secured a network of venues willing to participate and b) found advertisers interested in reaching late-night revellers.
So far, over 20 venues have joined Handvertising's network, and the fledgling company is in talks with advertisers. Handvertising pointed out one opportunity we hadn't considered: with smoking bans coming into place in the Netherlands next year, every nicotine addict will want their hand stamped to go out for a smoke and be allowed back into a club. Check your local hotspots this week—if no-one's advertising on passout stamps yet, make your move ;-)
There are plenty of government-run websites aimed at collecting feedback and generating involvement among residents of a particular city or town, but we hadn’t seen many aimed directly at local youth until we came across Derby KidzTalk. Operated by Derby Homes, a non-profit property management organization established by the Derby City Council, the site is geared toward kids between 9 and 16 living in Derby, offering them local information and ways to express concerns and get involved.
The site was originally motivated by a government requirement that Derby Homes involve users in the development of its services. "We are expected to include everyone—young and old, representing the broad spectrum of ethnicity—and this site helps us talk to young people who don't really like coming to formal meetings that adults feel more comfortable with," explains Mark Crown, tenant involvement manager for Derby Homes.
But Derby KidzTalk quickly took off beyond Derby Homes' expectations, reaching 80 registered users and 3,000 hits per month soon after its launch earlier this year. "KidzTalk is bigger than we anticipated for what was a step in the dark," Crown explains. The company is now scrambling to create a marketing plan and approaching other social landlords about the possibility of sharing and co-funding the site. It's also considering selling the format to other organizations. Our advice? Add 2.0 functionalities as featured in our posts on Love Lewisham, Amsterdam’s Google Maps mashup and Neighbourhood Fix-It. Take a playful approach to civic awareness by creating scavenger hunts with an online component: find a broken streetlight, report a pothole, etc.
Appealing to a 'not leaving the beach yet' kind of spontaneity, Danish Sommergrill offers seaside barbecue on speed dial. Consumers can call or SMS Sommergrill from the beach, and the service will deliver a ready-to-go bbq set: marinated meat, salad, bread and dessert, plus a disposable barbeque, plates, napkins, etc. A set for two is priced at DKK 180 (USD 33 / EUR 24 / GBP 16).
Instead of waiting in line for mediocre beach-side (fast) food, Sommergrill's customers have access to gourmet grub, with the convenience of having everything delivered, and the pleasure of grilling it themselves. Sommergrill is a seasonal offering by local restaurant Ricky's Køkken. Vans deliver to two urban beaches near Copenhagen, Amager Strandpark and Islands Brygge, and payment is in cash or by debit/credit card. With summer sadly drawing to an end in the northern hemisphere, this is one to start planning for summer 2008, if you’re in the food and beverage business. Or to quickly set up now if you're based south of the equator.
Most stores change their window displays regularly. GrandOpening, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, completely reinvents its entire operation every three months. This winter, the 350-square-foot space housed an exhibit for a proposed eco-community a two-hour drive west of New York. Currently, GrandOpening is a ping-pong parlour, tapping into that sport’s growing popularity. The site’s lone table rents for USD 18 per hour. A webcam lets neighbourhood residents see if it’s free. The barebones room can also host private parties and tournaments.
Simple as it may seem, GrandOpening’s perpetual makeovers have generated lots of buzz (we're admittedly late to the party). New York Post writer Sara Lieberman labeled it a “conceptual space,” and the New York Observer noted that while the downtown address hardly matches Fifth Avenue’s allure, Grand Opening has gotten some enviable notoriety. No word on whether Pong, the current name for the storefront, has turned a profit or what GrandOpening’s next reincarnation will be. But Ben and Hall Smyth, the two brothers who founded it, earn a living from a related job: designing exhibits for museums and companies, work that takes place at the Grand Opening site even as players whack ping pong balls back and forth.
Anyone thinking of copying the idea should be aware that each retail concept’s three-month lifespan could make it difficult to recoup the costs of refurbishing the space. A chain of stores could spread those costs around, of course. Store concepts might even be rotated from city to city. A similar concept could also offer large brands a unique opportunity to market new products, pop-up style. (The company is open to suggestions, stating "GrandOpening could be yours for a month, or two, or three.") GrandOpening’s low-key approach might just satisfy a consumer need for intimate new experiences. Related: Restaurant to close and reopen every season.
Customers in the Los Angeles area who feel unsure of their fashion sense, but aren't quite indulgent enough to hire full-time personal stylists, might benefit from a session of 'closet therapy'. Fashion consultant Barbra Horowitz can help clients makeover their existing wardrobes—discarding dated pieces, retooling old favourites, suggesting new purchases and helping to define a personal style.
Similar to home organizers, customers get in-home consultations with an expert who can teach them the tools of the trade. Working closely with each client during an 'in-closet' session, Barbra ‘edits, purges and styles’ her client. She also offers advice for working with a seamstress to reinvent old pieces, selling items while they're still hot and using that money to reinvest in new fashion must-haves.
With personal fashion overhauls making the rounds on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, What Not to Wear and similar reality television shows, there's a market for closet therapy in any metropolitan area where fashion ‘don'ts’ continue to stand out among the ‘do's’. And targeting a niche—such as college grads heading out into real world, newly single adults getting back into the dating scene, or former at-home moms returning to the office could make for a nice start-up as well.
Real estate may be all about location, location, location, as the old saying goes, but most rental apartment listings offer very little information on that critical point. A new apartment search website called Hubbuzz hopes to fill that gap by giving rental-hunters a way to get a better feel for neighbourhoods and communities.
While most apartment listings provide only the most minimal information about available properties, such as square footage, rent and amenities, the free—and ad-free—service from Colorado-based Collective Intuition lets apartment-hunters search not just by basic criteria but also on neighbourhood characteristics. ‘Eclectic,’ ‘trendy,’ ‘hometown vibe’ and ‘kid-friendly’ are among the adjectives users can select for their search, and the results serve up detailed neighbourhood profiles, photo galleries, interactive maps, events calendars and even user-generated neighbourhood blogs.
Apartment managers pay Hubbuzz USD 375 for each rental that is made through the site, and Hubbuzz passes USD 100 of that on to the renter as a reward. The site currently serves Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Colorado Springs and Northern Colorado; Chicago, Phoenix, Orange County and Dallas are soon to be added. Hubbuzz is open to partnering arrangements, and the concept is ripe for application in virtually any urban area. Consumers can zero in on what they want more quickly and accurately, while rental managers get contacted only by more informed (and thus more likely to rent) prospects—it's a win-win for everyone.
Back in April, we covered an example of consumers using their collective power to get what they want (aka crowd clout). Tumpang, pronounced 'toom' as in 'boom' and 'pung' as in 'rung', enables group purchases by letting consumers pool their influence to demand bulk discounts, saving a total of USD 26,855 to date. Malaysian Tumpang now wants to become the world's premier online bulk discount portal, and is launching its global site today.
Like eBay, Tumpang facilitates peer-to-peer buying and selling, allowing anyone to collect interest for an item, place a bulk order with a manufacturer and resell to peers. Unlike eBay, buyers don't compete with each other for a sale. Instead, they team up to grab a good bargain. As we mentioned before, helping (part-time) wholesalers secure buyers before ordering merchandise creates a low-risk form of alternative retail. One to watch as it expands!
While there's no shortage of premium juice brands, Wild Bunch & Co. still caught our eye with its ultra premium approach. The Singaporean company, which launched in January 2007, sells 100% organic juice in distinctive bottles and offers home delivery within Singapore.
Aimed primarily at busy and affluent professionals, Wild Bunch sells a convenient, natural source of nutrition. Its seasonal menus feature a variety of pure and mixed fruit and vegetable juices, ranging from Easy Peazy (carrots, peas and parsnip) to Pineapple Zinger (pineapple and ginger). For SGD 300 (USD 195 / EUR 145) per month, customers get one 250 ml serving per day, made to order and delivered to their home or office, with bottles picked up for recycling.
Wild Bunch is also actively targeting bars, restaurants, event planners and spas. Restaurants are given suggested food pairings: "Try serving our range of green juices such as Iron Maiden and Cabbage Savage with sushi or better still sashimi." And spas and resorts can offer their customers a One Day Detox Menu by Wild Bunch, a selection of six juices aimed at flushing out toxins and boosting immunity.
As we like to point out, everything can be upgraded, even if it's been upgraded before. Just pick a niche, add a healthy dose of convenience, make it exclusive and price accordingly, and pay excessive attention to design and presentation. Need more inspiration from planet upgradia? Check out a few of the premium products and services we've covered in the past: supermarkets, public restrooms, an erotic boutique and chocolate.
It's no secret that one can save time, money and gas by doubling up on errands or swapping to-do's with people in other locations to cut down on driving. But the prospect of divvying up tasks among friends, family and coworkers might seem like more trouble than it's worth. That's where Sherrands comes in—a new tool that links to-do lists of close friends and associates in a secure online environment to facilitate errand sharing.
Here's how this lifehack works: customers sign up for subscriptions and invite others to join. Users set up lists of other members they trust to run their errands—each user can have multiple lists. They then enter information about their errands, including information on mileage and time, which can be used to calculate how much gas and time users are saving using the site. Once an errand is entered, the user can assign it to one or more lists, and each member on that list is alerted via email. If the errand happens to be convenient to one of those members, he or she can accept it, and an email notification will let the person know. Sherrands also lets users create offers—alerting a list of members that you will be running to a particular part of town, for instance, and offering to help with errands in that area for anyone who needs it. During its current testing phase, the service is free, however Sherrands will begin charging for use once testing is complete.
While its interface could be more appealing, the idea is promising. Sherrands offers a handy solution to coordinating what otherwise might take a tangled web of phone calls and individual emails, making it an efficient way to save time and spare the environment to boot. It could be an attractive concept for business owners, too, especially if adapted for project management purposes.
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Heineken is about to soft launch a sparkling cider brew for female
Christened Charli, the beverage is being marketed to the
63% of women who, according to Heineken, don't like its main product.
Nobody likes to see vacant retail space. The folks at Motomedia have
devised a way to help compensate for lost rent while brightening high
streets: digital billboards tailor-made for empty storefronts.
Forget the age-old tales of having to walk uphill both ways in the snow
to get to class—college students at Syracuse University don't even
have to coordinate their own grocery shopping or cleaning.
Springwise and its global network of 8,000 spotters scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds from San Francisco to Singapore. Time to start the Next Big Thing!
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