Spotted for you this week: shared bikes unlocked through text messages, design-your-own emergency tattoos for kids, a business partner matchmaking site for startups, and more. Our next edition is due on 13 October 2010. In the meantime, check out our daily postings on, send us your tips, and please don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues about us. Much appreciated!


October 6, 2010

College campuses are a natural fit for ride-sharing programs, as Zipcar and Zimride have already shown. So it makes perfect sense to see UK-based WhipBikes launch a bike-sharing program targeting a similar audience.

Inspired by the bike-sharing programs that are becoming common in many cities, WhipBikes is a self-service sharing system that's now available at Newcastle University. Faculty and students begin by paying a one-time GBP 14.95 registration fee to sign up with the service. From there on, they're eligible to use a WhipBike whenever they need one, choosing from the 150 or so bikes scattered all across campus. When they want to rent one, users simply pick a bike and text its bike number to WhipBikes, which will reply with the lock code for that bike. The user then has 30 minutes to ride wherever he or she needs to go and then relock the bike at the nearest WhipBikes rack. The cost of 50p per ride is simply added to the user's mobile phone bill. WhipBikes also accepts advertising for display on the rear wheel cover of its bikes; pricing is GBP 35 for two weeks.

With a solution that not only saves young transumers from having to purchase a bike of their own but also enables advertisers to reach tens of thousands of students throughout the course of the day, WhipBikes is ripe for partnership or emulation on college campuses around the globe. (Related: High-end calculators for rent to studentsHygienic handlebar covers for shared bicyclesBike-sharing comes to AsiaMore free love: notebooks for students.)


Spotted by: Florence Lwuoha




October 6, 2010

Dress-up clothes for small boys haven't changed much over the years, leaving us today with essentially the same shirts and ties our grandfathers wore. Enter Fat Tie, a Los Angeles-based company that aims to give young boys a fresh alternative with a comfortable feel and a hip sense of style.

Available in both short- and long-sleeved versions, Fat Tie shirts are prewashed and preshrunk soft cotton t-shirts with a bold, tie-like applique sewn on the front. No more struggling to squeeze junior into a multipiece ensemble; instead, he can go from playground to dinner with maybe just a hand-washing in between. Sizes range from 12 months to 5T; pricing is USD 37.

Who would have thought there was still room for innovation in the world of children's clothing? Then again, who wouldn't have? When it comes to t-shirts, there's no end to the possibilities. ;-) (Related: Hubwear flight route t-shirtsT-shirts that talk code.)


Spotted by: Mrs. April B.




October 5, 2010

A few years back we wrote about Hubbuzz, a site that helps apartment-hunters get a better feel for the neighbourhoods and communities they have to choose from. Now, expanding the focus beyond just the rental market, New York-based NabeWise aims to reveal neighbourhoods in all their glory for the benefit of travellers, people relocating or those who just love exploring.

There are more than 80,000 neighborhoods in the US alone, NabeWise says, all of them with a distinct population, setting and culture. To help outsiders understand the nuances differentiating those neighbourhoods, NabeWise offers real-time rankings across 65 key attributes including trendiness, noise level, suitability for families and safety, for example. The site's NabeFinder tool uses proprietary data and algorithms to display customized heat maps of neighborhoods based on the user's preferences; once a user has narrowed their search, the site aims to bring each neighborhood to life with a photo tour, reviews from locals and a unique tool that captures the dynamic, local reputation of each place. A comprehensive scorecard, meanwhile, uses a mix of ongoing surveys with public and private data to give users an understanding of each neighbourhood when it comes to quality of life, people, character, things to do and schools.

NabeWise is currently up and running in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Chicago, with plans to roll out in more cities in the coming months. One to get involved in...?


Spotted by: Diana Sonis




October 5, 2010

Temporary tattoos can be an effective way to help protect children with a tendency to wander off, and Tottoos — which we covered back in 2007 — is one example of a company that offers them. Recently one of our spotters alerted us to Baltimore-based SafetyTat, however, which not only sells such tattoos but even lets consumers design their own.

SafetyTat's new TatBuilder allows customers to choose from more than 100,000 possible combinations of styles in their SafetyTat tattoo. Background and border colours are among the variables they can control, as are the message text and accompanying icon. Two lines are available for contact information on each tattoo. Pricing for a package of 24 tattoos is USD 19.95.

Any sign yet that consumers are tiring of having it their own way? We sure haven't seen it. Keep the design-your-own innovations coming! (Related: Design your own custom-made beef jerkyDesign your own pet foodDesign your own swim shortsDesign your own jeans, custom-made for $145.)


Spotted by: Raymond Kollau




October 5, 2010

We've already seen a line of clothing created specifically for infusion patients, and recently we came across something similar for those suffering from breast cancer. Jillies' “Playful Garments” are specially designed blouses that make it easier for women to undergo breast cancer treatments.

Priced at USD 40, Jillies blouses are 100 percent cotton tunic-style garments designed to replace the standard-issue hospital “johnnie” robe routinely provided to cancer patients. Featuring a soft blush color and matching cotton trim with a ruffled collar, Jillies include velcro closures that facilitate fastening and unfastening; deep armholes, meanwhile, ease dressing and undressing for cancer treatments as well as breast examinations, mammograms, ultrasounds and breast MRIs. Each Jillie comes with a coordinating cotton drawstring tote to hold personal belongings during treatment.

In addition to offering a variety of tips and resources on its site, Boston-based Jillies also donates a portion of its proceeds to the Jillies Foundation, a 501c3 organization that supports programs promoting patient wellbeing. Given that some 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the US alone, however, there's plenty more room to help improve the lives of such patients around the world.


Spotted by: Lisa B. Eisenbud monthly briefing




October 4, 2010

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but there’s no doubt a few well-placed compliments can work wonders too. Where Pink Kisses delivers flattery by text message to help restore a newly single woman’s post-breakup confidence, Flatter Me is a more general service that offers phone calls full of praise for any occasion.

For just USD 5, consumers can hire Flatter Me to call any friend or relation in North America and deliver a load of compliments. They can either customize the message themselves, or they can leave the compliments up to the Canadian firm. Calls are typically short and sweet, lasting between 30 seconds and one minute; common occasions for using the service include employee motivation, encouragement, birthday wishes and appreciation. A USD 10 package includes one call each week for a month.

Ever hear the expression, “Flattery will get you everywhere”? We’re betting that it’s absolutely right! ;-) (Related: Service for sports fans aims to rub in the team rivalryNagging service for dieters.)


Spotted by: Miriam Glassman




October 1, 2010

Matchmaking, if you think about it, is at the heart of so many business transactions. Buyer meets seller; volunteer meets nonprofit; investor meets worthy startup. It’s not too surprising, then, to see a matchmaking service target potential business cofounders, with the aim of helping them hook up. That, indeed, is just the purpose of UK-based MatchFounders.

Launched recently at Launch48 — with advice, incidentally, from a Lovestruck mentor — MatchFounders aims to create “matched introductions between passionate people with different skill sets, creating lasting and fruitful professional relationships,” in the site’s own words. Visitors to the site can search for potential matches based on a potential partner’s desired expertise, funding preferences and commitment.

Now apparently in beta, MatchFounders is still busy getting off the ground. Its potential, however, is very compelling. One to get involved in early — or to use to find your own match made in heaven? ;-) (Related: Matchmaking site for platonic friendshipsPeer-to-peer recruiting, with prizes for referrals.)





September 30, 2010

Regular Springwise readers may recall The Thing, the unconventional magazine we covered back in 2007 in which each issue is literally a different work of art. Operating on much the same premise, California-based Alula offers a yearly subscription service that buys quarterly pieces of limited-edition textile art.

Launched this summer with support from Southern Exposure, Alula Editions has already sent out its first work of art, which was a handkerchief and reversible tie created by artist Jason Jägel. Hand silkscreening and sewing were done by Alula Editions in the Bay Area using sustainable fabrics and water-based inks. Alula’s Fall edition will feature a creation from the Headlands Center for the Arts, while Allison Smith and Sara Magenheimer are slated for its Winter and Spring 2011 editions, respectively. All pieces are signed and numbered; pricing for a yearly subscription is USD 200.

Curated subscription models are becoming increasingly common, for everything from luxury women's panties to handmade greeting cards, but curation's appeal is particularly strong for products like art, where consumers will likely value expert guidance even more. Artists, of course, gain from the increased exposure and revenue. Let all those in the art world take note! ;-) (Related: High-end beauty samples by curated subscription
Sustainable baked goods by weekly subscriptionHandpicked shoes by monthly subscription.)


Spotted by: NOTCOT




September 30, 2010

Major brands have a long history of promoting social causes, such as Method’s partnership with Goodwill to facilitate clothing donations. Kraft, however, recently launched an effort that taps multiple brands and multiple social media to involve consumers in fighting hunger.

In what Kraft says is its largest multi-brand initiative to date, the company’s Huddle for Hunger program aims to “leverage America's love for football, food and helping others, by huddling resources, voices and communities around the issue of hunger,” in the company’s own words. Specifically, Kraft has enlisted high-profile partners and personalities like Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana, sports journalist Erin Andrews and celebrity chefs Patrick and Gina Neely to champion the cause. It’s also launched the first-ever Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. And using the power of social media, it’s inviting consumers to help it give away 20 million meals. Consumers can help by redeeming coupons, “liking” Kraft Foods on Facebook, uploading photos, watching YouTube videos and sending tweets on Twitter, among other online activities, each of which results in the donation of at least one meal. Online maps reveal state-by-state progress. The program, which runs through Jan. 9, will donate a maximum of four million meals through digital and social media. Additional meal-donation initiatives are under way at Kraft brands including Oreo, Ritz, Kraft Cheese and Maxwell House.

With 49 million Americans — including 16.7 million children — affected by hunger, it’s hard to imagine a better cause to support. What is *your* brand doing to involve the Generation G masses in changing the world...?


Spotted by: Jim Stewart




September 30, 2010

It’s a testament to the ubiquity of niche software that hand-held calculators are now a rarity in the enterprise and scientific worlds. They’re still used in college classes, however, which is why Canadian Renac has been able to build a business on renting them out to students.

Rather than buy a graphic or financial calculator for use in just one or two classes, students can save more than 70 percent of the devices’ retail price by renting one instead, Renac says. Six calculators are available on the Renac site, with prices beginning at CAD 1.25 per month for a BA II Plus financial device, for example. Monthly, semester, 10-month, 12-month and two-year plans are available, with lower rates for longer rental periods. When the student is done with the rented calculator, he or she simply puts it in a prepaid return envelope and mails it back to Renac.

Launched last month, Renac currently serves transumers on Canadian campuses. Who will bring something like this to the rest of the ownership-averse world...? (Related: Green car-sharing by the hour at Hawaii hotelsToy rental service targets businesses with waiting roomsRental service for kids' video gamesDesigner dresses for rent (back-up size included)Clothing rental for size-changing dieters.)


Spotted by: Heather Buist




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.

catchafire Professionals found for nonprofits that need their help
Non-profit, social cause

Catchafire takes into account the skills, cause interests and
availability of those wishing to volunteer when finding a match with
nonprofits and social enterprises that need professional assistance.

newdinnerinthesky Dine, dance, drink and play, 50m above the ground
Entertainment / Food & beverage

Dinner in the Sky's latest eating experience features eight lighted
tables situated around a central bar, and seats similar to those on
an aircraft -- appropriately enough for a venue suspended in mid-air.

redcrossnz Retailer & Red Cross reward consumers for recycling
Non-profit, social cause / Fashion & beauty / Retail

New Zealand consumers who include a gently used Country Road
garment in donations to participating Red Cross shops will receive
a voucher for use towards future purchases at Country Road stores.

kidfresh Healthy meals for kids, now in the frozen aisle
Food & beverage

Packed with hidden vegetables but free of artificial flavours, colours,
and preservatives, Kidfresh organic and natural meals for kids are
now available frozen in US supermarkets.

wewood One tree planted for each wooden watch sold
Style & design / Eco & sustainability

Los Angeles-based WeWood crafts wooden watches that are
free of artificial and toxic materials. The company plants a
new tree for every watch it sells.

edge Controlled crowdsourcing, by invite only
Marketing & advertising

Edge Amsterdam recruits talent via art schools and other
connections to form a network, guided and coached by experienced
professionals, working on product and brand innovations.

fashiontech Five concepts combining fashion and technology
Fashion & beauty

Shape-shifting robotic mannequins in virtual fitting rooms, customer
body scans to create onscreen models, Facebook in fitting rooms,
and apps to estimate bra sizes and get feedback on outfit ideas.

adioso Flexible travel search tool uses natural language
Tourism & travel

Adioso's travel search engine can handle searches containing
flexible dates and destinations. Examples: "San Francisco to NYC
late October" or "Austin to anywhere under $200 next week".

solvemedia Captcha-style tool uses adverts for user verification
Marketing & advertising

In place of nonsensical text in website user authentification tools,
Solve Media has come up with a tool that displays a small ad and
requires users to prove they're not robots by typing in the ad slogan.

novacut Open video project aims to spur independent TV
Media & publishing / Entertainment

The Novacut project's free video editor can be used to make TV
programmes using regular HDSLR cameras. They're working on
a video player for fans to find, watch and support the results.

dropshot Cleaning products in refill packets for dilution at home
Eco & sustainability

A packet of DropShot's concentrated cleaning solution mixed with
regular tap water and given a good shake will yield a full bottle of
commercial-strength household cleaner.

blockyourex Tool removes past flames from one’s social networks
Life hacks / Media & publishing

Tell Block Your Ex someone's name along with his or her Twitter
identity, Facebook page and blog URL, and the tool will wipe that
person right out of your online life. The first five exes are free.

kidzcomics Medical comic books for kids explain serious diseases
Media & publishing / Education

New Zealand-based Kidzcomics has launched series of comic books
designed to help children understand serious diseases and medical
conditions, and the treatments required to fight them.

ecosolatec Solar-powered pest control
Eco & sustainability

Powered by built-in solar panels and pollution-free, the Solar Trap
uses a near-ultraviolet lamp to attract mosquitoes, moths and other
bugs, and then propel them by fan into an inescapable netting.






Bloggers, journalists, editors:

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