Spotted for you this week: car sharing and to-do lists made into motivational games, wallets hidden in bracelets and wristbands, cycling lanes painted in their sponsor's colours, and more. Our next edition is due on 3 November 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 27, 2010

When a well-loved pair of jeans shows the tell-tale signs of aging, one option is to call upon Denim Therapy for restoration. Alternatively, another route now available is to send in a back pocket from said ailing jeans and get a one-of-a-kind smartphone pocket in return.

Dutch Deadjeans accepts the back pockets of beloved denim pants from all over the world. In return, it will fashion those pockets with felt lining and convert them into unique smartphone holders. Consumers need only carefully remove the pocket they have in mind — it must be at least 14cm high by 9cm wide — and mark the front and back of those pockets with stickers Deadjeans provides. They then send in the designated pocket and wait for Deadjeans to turn it into a smartphone holder; pricing including shipping is EUR 29.90. Currently, Deadjeans makes smartphone pockets for phones close in size to the iPhone 3G(s), the iPhone 4 and the BlackBerry Bold 9700.

Countless beloved pairs of jeans around the world are wearing out right now, as we speak, ready to be upcycled when they're no longer worn . Are you a crafty minipreneur who can turn them into something useful again...? (Related: Leather jackets remade into designer bagsLuxe upcycling: from cashmere sweaters to (very) soft toysFive businesses that turn trash into appealing new products.)





October 26, 2010

If mobile gaming can turn the dreary to-do list from something we should do into something we want to do, then the possibilities are surely endless for other aspects of life that could use a like-minded dose of fun and motivation. Such as ride-sharing, for instance. As if on cue, Ridekicks is a UK-based site that turns carpooling into a social game with rewards for earth-friendly driving.

Now in beta, Ridekicks aims to use fun to help change the way that people use cars. Toward that end, it awards points to users for every shared ride. Users planning a trip can post it on the site as well as promote it on their own social networks, while those hoping for a ride can search for opportunities to share. Drivers who want to charge passengers for the ride can even do so through the site; Ridekicks charges a 5 percent fee per transaction. In any case, every shared mile by either driver or passenger equates to one Ridekick point, allowing both sides of the equation to be rewarded. Points are also earned when those who share a ride put “stickers” on each other's profiles, as well as when they complete reviews. Points are taken away, however, for those who are reviewed badly. In Foursquare-like fashion, the ultimate goal of the game is to become “The King of the Road,” or the highest-scoring participant; those who earn that title, however, only get to keep it as long as they keep sharing. There's also the chance to become “The Hometown Hero” — the highest-scoring participant from any given city — or “Captain Planet,” the player who travels the most miles as a passenger. Ridekicks hasn't yet decided on any reward scheme for accumulated points, but it's open to suggestions.

OK, so that's two mundane aspects of life converted into games. All you developer-minded entrepreneurs out there: where else does the world need more fun? (Related: More airport ride matchingIn New Delhi, carpooling system rewards members for giving ridesMore social ride-sharing.)


Spotted by: Richard Monk




October 26, 2010

Last month came word of IKEA facilitating secondhand sales of its furniture. It turns out that IKEA isn't the only Swedish retailer experimenting with used products — electronics chain Siba recently added a classifieds section to its website, enabling customers to sell and buy pre-owned products.

Siba, which has 56 stores in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, launched because it realized that sometimes customers specifically set out to buy a used product, for example when buying a TV for a holiday home. Meanwhile, others need a place to offload their camera or game console before upgrading to a new one. The company doesn't charge listing fees, and hopes the service will attract visitors to its website, as well as garnering good will by helping consumers find what they're looking for, be it new or used. (Related: Online marketplace for secondhand IKEA furnitureSwedish fashion brand launches its own secondhand store.)


Spotted by: Robert Olzon




October 26, 2010

Another week, another subscription model spotted! This time, the virtual ink was still drying on our story about Bonbon's lip balms by monthly subscription when we got word of a like-minded effort applied to the lowly kitchen cleaning cloth. Far from homely, however, UK-based Jangneus Design's eco-friendly cleaning cloths offer a heaping helping of Swedish-inspired design with strong colours and eye-catching motifs.

Jangneus Design's kitchen cloths all feature a bright design against a white background; colours available for the designs are blue, turquoise, green, black, purple, yellow and red. Pricing is GBP 2.50 for one to three cloths, GBP 2 for four to nine cloths and GBP 1.75 for 10 or more; shipping within the UK is free. Fully biodegradable at the end of their useful lives, the cloths clearly offer yet another lovely illustration of our favourite “everything can be upgraded” theme. Perhaps even more interesting, though, is Jangneus' subscription plan, whereby GBP 25 per year buys the subscriber a new cloth every month. Consumers can specify the colour of the cloths they receive, or they can opt for a mixed subscription whereby Jangneus chooses for them. Subscriptions are available only within the UK.

Of course, beyond simply offering consumers a distinctive product without the hassle of having to shop for it multiple times per year, subscription models like Jangneus' also offer startups a good way to gain traction. It's the elusive win-win proposition, and a good reason to try subscriptions for the recurring purchases in your own company's product line. Be inspired!





October 25, 2010

Following in the footsteps of Etsy-like sites including Foodzie (artisanal food), IndieReader (indie books), Market Publique (vintage fashion) and Lushpad (mid-century furniture), Wedzu is a curated marketplace for independent and handmade wedding goods.

Just launched last week, Texas-based Wedzu lets artists and other creatives set up a Wedzu store for free. They can list as many handmade and independent wedding items as they like; the only cost is when they make a sale, from which Wedzu charges a commission of 10 percent. Products on the site are organized into a number of categories, and sellers set their own prices, shipping policies and fees. Examples of items currently for sale on Wedzu include “Just Married” luggage tags, black satin blossom hair pins and a 4mm princess diamond ring.

When the market becomes overwhelming, the market turns to curation, as we've now seen demonstrated time and time again. Keep the curated marketplaces coming!





October 25, 2010

It was back in 2004 that we first got whiff of an emerging cocoa trend, promising an alternative to the current Starbucks-induced coffee and tea madness. That was right about when British Cadbury was opening its Cadbury Cocoa House in Bath — a concept that apparently didn't ultimately take hold — but now the concept is being reborn as a brand-new series of cocoa houses across the UK.

With a first shop just opened in Kent's Bluewater shopping centre, Cadbury Cocoa Houses are slated to spread to Wales next year, according to a report in WalesOnline. Each venue will feature hot and chilled chocolate drinks and a rotating menu created with the help of Welsh restaurateur and food critic Simon Wright; featured items include traditional afternoon tea, bacon butties and knickerbocker glories. “Wherever possible we’ve insisted on using local producers to keep the concept British,” said David Morris, one of the co-founders behind the idea. “You won’t find French, Italian or American items on the menu.” Up next will be another eight to 10 stores opening next year in Wales.

There's something inspiring about seeing an older brand like Cadbury tapping into concepts like the being space and the (still) made here trend. Will Cadbury Cocoa Houses be able to take on Starbucks and its ilk? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it's another bit of proof that what's old really can be made new again. One to watch!


Spotted by: Wales Online via Sara Fox




October 25, 2010

The march of the travel sites continues! Much the way Adioso aims to open up travel search to broader possibilities through a natural-language interface, so Wanderfly seeks to offer “travel inspiration” by offering tailored recommendations in just a few clicks.

Launched just last week, Wanderfly’s streamlined interface focuses on three simple variables: the user's budget, timeframe and interests. Icons representing specific themes help represent interests — which can range from food and culture to “eco-friendly” and nightlife — and users can keep their destination options completely open or limit them to a particular region or city. Wanderfly then searches 22 trusted sites — including Expedia, Foursquare, Yelp and Lonely Planet — to recommend a trip complete with destination, flight, hotel and activities. Travelers may customize these options and book through Expedia, or they can flip to the next suggested trip. They can also connect through Facebook to locate friends in any of their potential destinations.

Now in beta, New York-based Wanderfly currently features more than 1,200 global destinations, with more to come. It's also working on an iPad application as well as concierge packages, restaurant reservations, travel products and event tickets. In addition, Wanderfly plans to add more user-generated content, group-planning tools and a widget for outside travel parties to integrate into their sites. Clearly, there's still plenty of room for innovation in the travel search arena — one to be inspired by, in more ways than one! ;-)





October 25, 2010

It's been a few years since we've had occasion to write about upgraded alternatives to the lowly Porta-potty. Back in 2006 it was UK-based Luxury Portable Loos that caught our attention with its bespoke, multiuser restroom trailers, but recently we came across a like-minded initiative across the Atlantic that offers similarly beautified toilets on a smaller scale.

Atlanta Watercloset provides “exceptionally clean” portable restrooms for outdoor special events throughout the metro Atlanta area. With flush toilets, fresh-water sinks for hand-washing, interior lighting, mirrors, coat hooks, shelves and brand-name toilet paper, the company offers its luxury individual toilets for use at weddings and other special events. Lattice woodwork privacy shields and tiki torches can be added around the outside of Atlanta Waterclosets' toilets, and special custom details can be added on the inside, including flowers, LED candles, “congratulations” signs and other special touches. Other optional add-ons include on-site attendants, tent cover for rainy weather, solar-powered pathway lights and more. Pricing is “much less expensive than a restroom trailer but not too much more than a 'typical' portable restroom,” the company says.

All of which reminds us that it's been a while since we repeated our favourite refrain: Everything can be upgraded! Who will be first to bring something like this to all the happy couples and event hosts in your neck of the woods...? (Related: Toilet seat covers, upgradedStylish fire protection kits.)

Contact: monthly briefing




October 25, 2010

Designers can already tap Material Short Stories for advice and suggestions on sustainable new materials. Aiming to provide a more comprehensive source of the ongoing possibilities, Source4Style offers a design portal that can connect sellers and buyers of sustainable fabrics and materials.

Brooklyn-based Source4Style lets designers and others in charge of sourcing search through a comprehensive and curated selection of materials and services, review technical and sustainability specs, calculate lead and ship times, connect with suppliers, and source swatches, yardage and product through a seamless online transaction. Bast fibers, cottons, leather, manufactured fibers, silk, wool and wood-derived materials are among the categories listed on the site, which currently includes more than 35 suppliers and some 1,300 different products. Suppliers pay monthly user fees of between USD 10 and USD 15 per month to list their products. Buyers can search and purchase on the site for free, but Source4Style also offers premium memberships with additional benefits including discounts and more extensive materials information. Membership options launch next month at prices starting at USD 40 per month. A forthcoming Directory of Services, meanwhile, will let registered users access an extensive database of socially compliant and environmentally conscious textile mills, manufacturers, cut-and-sew facilities, dyers, cooperatives, converters and jobbers throughout the world. Workshops and consulting are also part of Source4Style's services.

The focus on sustainability is clearly here to stay, opening up a new world of opportunities for those who can help “grease the wheels,” so to speak. One to localize in your part of the world — or try out for your next eco-minded design...? (Related: Library of green building materials.)


Spotted by: Lori Webb




October 22, 2010

There are many occasions in life in which carrying a wallet or purse is inconvenient, and yet there are also very few alternatives. Rather than storing money and keys in a shoe or — heaven forbid — an undergarment, San Francisco-based Rogiu LLC has come up with a much more stylish solution: bracelets and wristbands with a wallet hidden inside.

Launched earlier this year, Wallets2wear are available in numerous styles for both women and men, including a variety of fabric and beaded designs as well as watch-based and formal alternatives featuring silver beads or pearls. Regardless of the style, the inner side of each elasticized or Velcro-closed bracelet features a pouch capable of accommodating a credit card, ID, key, cash or even lipstick. Prices range from USD 12 for a sports wrist wallet to USD 150 for a freshwater pearl or sterling formal version.

Rogiu currently ships only to US consumers; it's also working on wholesale pricing for its Wallets2wear line. Retailers around the globe: one to get in on early? (Related: Gadget-friendly sash holds personal devicesLimited-edition, gadget-friendly jeans.)


Spotted by: Susan Byers




October 22, 2010

Transport for London is investing a record GBP 111 million this year in initiatives designed to encourage and improve bicycling in London, and a sizable chunk of that money is going toward “cycle superhighways,” or dedicated cycle lanes into central London from the outer portions of the city. Other cities are taking similar steps, of course, given the increasing popularity of bicycling; what's particularly interesting about this initiative, however, is that Barclays is heavily involved in the effort, lending the superhighways not just its brand name but even its corporate colour.

Dubbed Barclays Cycle Superhighways, the new, Barclays-blue painted lanes are designed to provide cyclists with safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city. The new routes are clearly marked and easy to follow, thanks in part to new signs and road markings as well as information about journey times and links to other cycle routes. The first two such lanes have already launched--leading into the city from Merton and Barking, respectively--and 10 more will be introduced by 2015. In addition to reducing congestion and cutting emissions in the city, one of the goals behind the project is to increase cycling in London by 400 percent by 2025, compared with 2000 levels. Toward that end, Barclays has also branded a Cycle for Hire initiative within London, with 6,000 blue-emblazoned bicycles and 400 branded docking stations. A video on YouTube explains the cycle superhighways project in more detail.

Much the way brands using Save Your Logo can align themselves with wildlife conservation for improved karma and corporate generosity, so Barclays' effort will forever link its brand in Londoners' minds with bicycling and sustainability. Time to brainstorm some like-minded ideas for *your* generous brand...? (Related: Bank-sponsored bike-sharing in Canada.)

Update: Just discovered an independently launched social add-on to the Barclays scheme. In their words: "myLondonCycle is a social community built around the new Barclays Cycle Hire program in London. The goal is to bring even more fun into cycling with a little social game."


Spotted by: Hal M.




October 22, 2010

It's one thing to encourage consumers to take shorter showers, but helping them do that is another matter entirely. Toward that end, the Waterpebble is a new innovation that tracks water usage in the shower and prompts users when it's time to finish up.

Created by UK design firm Priestmangoode, the Waterpebble is a small disc that gets placed near the shower drain. When it's first used, it learns how long the user's showers typically are. Then, on subsequent showers, it uses a series of “traffic light” signals ranging from green to red to tell consumers when to finish. Each time it's used, the Waterpebble fractionally reduces the length of the user's shower, resulting in water savings without the need for any conscious effort. The Waterpebble is available at select online retailers for about GBP 8.

Similar to Efergy's Shower Time, the Waterpebble is one more example of the opportunity that awaits those who can help consumers use less resources. Retailers around the globe: one to add to your own eco-minded line...?


Spotted by: Martijn Turkenburg




October 21, 2010

The traditional to-do list may be a necessity for making sure things get done, but it's also a dreary task master to be ruled by day after day. Aiming to “put the adventure back into your life,” EpicWin is an iPhone app that converts that stern list into a mobile game in which each completed task advances the player in an ongoing quest to level up, gain riches and develop skills.

Users of EpicWin, which was created by UK-based Rexbox and SuperMono, begin by downloading the USD 2.99 game from the App Store and then adding their tasks using the fully featured to-do list, including a necessary completion date or just that they should be done "some day." Repeating tasks are supported as well. Players also choose an avatar for their character and assign a particular associated skill to each chore. Then, as chores are completed over the course of the day, the character develops skills and moves ahead on the quest map, with rewards each time they level up. Every new location also uncovers rare items that can be collected. Tasks that become overdue, meanwhile, are shown on opening the app. As the game progresses, players can share their progress via Facebook and Twitter. A pre-release video on YouTube demonstrates EpicWin in action.

It's hard to imagine a version for Android won't be next on EpicWin's own to-do list. Meanwhile, other tech-minded entrepreneurs: what other dreary aspects of life can be made fun and rewarding through mobile gaming...? (Related: App rewards shoppers for setting foot in storesWith social media check-ins, guests earn hotel & travel rewardsA donation to charity for each hour wasted onlineFitness device coaxes users into actionWrist device rewards kids for exercisingLearning site motivates kids with real rewards.)


Spotted by: Sarah Anne Jackson




October 21, 2010

This is the second in a series of posts on traceability. Written by Springwise, and supported by IBM. Check out our previous post, or read more about building a smarter planet.


From bananas and spinach to coffee and chocolate, we've covered a variety of food tracking concepts that were mainly focused on the 'softer' side of traceability, giving consumers a sense of connection to the sources of their food and the people who grow it. While those individual efforts are immensely valuable as marketing and information tools, both producers and consumers stand to benefit from a more widely accepted and recognized method of tracking food.

A recent example of an integrated approach to fresh food traceability is HarvestMark's partnership with The Kroger Company (2,468 supermarkets in 31 states). Kroger's private label produce brands now feature sixteen-digit codes by HarvestMark, allowing consumers to find out where their food was grown, when it was packed, how it should be stored, etc.

HarvestMark — a Redwood City-based provider of food tracking solutions — offers a free iPhone app that lets shoppers access information straight from the store, using their phone's camera to scan a product's barcode. Alternatively, they can access the information from the company's homepage. And in the event of a product recall, consumers can quickly check whether the food in their fridge is affected. Kroger is the first retailer to offer HarvestMark on its private label brands.

For food producers and packagers, heightened concerns about product recalls (and accompanying legislation) mean that the race is on to find a traceability standard. Not in the least because dealing with multiple systems is confusing, wasteful and inefficient. Add to that consumer interest in food provenance, and it's no surprise that this market is ripe with opportunity, especially for front-runners who can appeal to the needs of all parties involved: producers, packagers, retailers and consumers.





October 21, 2010

Solar power is not quite as straightforward in the United States as it is in many other countries, largely because there is no countrywide policy on solar encouragement. Nonetheless, rooftops and other sunny spaces remain a desirable asset for utility companies and independent power producers, and that's where Seglet comes in. The California-based site aims to connect property owners with commercial and individual users interested in renting or profit-sharing rooftops and other property segments.

Property owners begin by listing their roof or open land for free; Seglet automatically adds solar radiation and other details. Energy companies, independent power producers, energy consultants, investors, urban agriculturalists and others in need of sunny, open space can then browse through Seglet when they need a location for a new project. Along with each listing, they can easily see the site's solar radiation, wind speed and wind direction, and meteorological data. Seglet keeps owners' contact information private by default, but prospective renters can gain access to specific owners through Seglet's internal system by purchasing credit packages through the site. Membership packages range from a basic one including 400 credits for USD 44 to a premium version including 8,000 credits for USD 499.

Given the virtual certainty of the solar industry's critical role in the coming years, it seems hard to imagine any risk or downside in helping to facilitate the process. Sellsumers and others with underutilized rooftops and land, meanwhile, will surely jump at the chance for a little extra income. Food for thought, particularly in sun-splashed regions near you. (Related: Using Google maps to calculate homes' solar potentialBroker creates local groups for collective solar purchasing.)


Spotted by: Dayna Burtness




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.

p7coffee 7 coffee blends, 7 charitable causes
Non-profit, social cause / Food & beverage

Texas-based Project7's coffees are from small farms that are certified
Fair Trade and USDA Organic. Sold through coffee-of-the-month
subscriptions, each coffee blend is attached to a specific cause.

creekwatch iPhone app lets citizens help monitor local waterways
Eco & sustainability / Telecom & mobile

Creek Watch will let people participate in maintaining the quality of
their local waterways. Site reports made using the app will be
aggregated into maps and tables and shared with water boards.

littlelibrarian Personal library kit for kids
Lifestyle & leisure / Media & publishing

The Little Librarian kit lets a child create their own library using
file folders, book pockets, book and library cards, reading awards,
bookmarks, overdue slips and a reading journal. Just add books.

veloveggies More bike-delivered farm produce, now in Minnesota
Food & beverage / Eco & sustainability

VeloVeggies will home-deliver boxes of veggies produced by
community agriculture projects, and pick up compostable waste
for delivery to compost processors and community gardens.

harimayahonten Rice cracker brand's cafes serve free drinks & snacks
Food & beverage / Marketing / Non-profit, social cause

Harimaya Honten's Free Cafes serve up coffee and teas for no charge,
along with the traditional rice snacks for which the company is known.
Patrons are merely asked to behave with courtesy and mutual respect.

eflirtexpert Coaching service helps singles with online dating
Lifestyle & leisure

New York-based eFlirt Expert is a company that strives to help singles
market themselves well online and then successfully navigate the
transition into the real world.

zipcarnyc New York officials test-drive car-sharing with Zipcar
Government / Transportation

New York City Department of Transportation employees will share 25
Zipcar vehicles by day for official business. Outside of working hours
the cars will be made available to the general public through Zipcar.

bonbonbalm Artisan lip balms by monthly subscription
Fashion & beauty / Retail

For GBP 5 per month, UK-based Bonbon sends customers a
variety of attractively packaged lip balms made using only natural
and, where possible, organic and fair-trade ingredients.

myoocreate Helping brands crowdsource sustainable solutions
Eco & sustainability

Myoo Create aims to help organisations put the crowds to work
solving environmental and social challenges. Prizes are offered
for the solution chosen by judges and for the most popular idea.

themeatloafbakery Bringing cupcake style to the homely meatloaf
Food & beverage

Chicago's Meatloaf Bakery is adding visual appeal to one of
America's favourite comfort foods. Meatloaf 'cupcakes', 'pastries' and
bite-size 'loafies' are prepared as beautifully as a high-end dessert.

creativeeveryone Curated guide to creative events
Media & publishing

Creative Everyone uses an international network of editors to post
what they think are the most worthwhile events in their areas of
interest and region. Several cities in the UK and US are covered.

recyclematch Matching industrial waste with firms that can reuse it
Eco & sustainability

Houston-based RecycleMatch helps companies with unwanted waste
find others that could reuse it. Owners can list items on the site for
free; fees are charged for successful matches or for 'wanted' listings.




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