Spotted for you this week: readymade holidays available literally out of the box, online ambassadors who kickstart buzz about new books, a winemaker using its byproducts for a skincare sideline, and more. Our next edition is due on 22 December 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!


December 15, 2010

Offered under the Mumbai-based SOTC brand of global travel company Kuoni, Box Holidays are tangible, prepackaged travel offerings that can be purchased online or off the shelf in a participating retail store. Rather than having to spend time and effort researching options with a travel agent, purchasers can simply buy a Box Holiday, which features all the key details on the outside of the box, including price, validity period, service inclusions and exclusions, complimentary offers, loyalty benefits, discounts, cancellation rules and hotel images.

Buyers (or recipients) of SOTC Box Holidays need only call to schedule the dates on which they'd like to redeem the package. Pricing begins at INR 7,000 for a three-day, two-night domestic getaway for two, and travel can be done at any time within the package's validity period. International packages begin at INR 47,410 for four days and three nights, and price protection against exchange rate fluctuations is included. Also packaged into many Box Holidays are holiday vouchers, value add-ons, discount coupons, destination information, tips and other freebies. SOTC Box Holidays are available at Globus stores in Mumbai and select BigBazaar outlets in Delhi, as well as online.

Besides appealing to new groups of tourists who might be daunted by the prospects of organizing holiday travel, it seems a safe bet that consumers around the globe would be more likely to consider travel for gift-giving purposes if it were available as a tangible box in mainstream retail outlets.


Spotted by: Wee Hoon Tan




December 15, 2010

It wasn't long ago that we covered Reflective Lace, the safety-minded and stylish embellishment that makes bicyclists more visible at night. Now bringing similar reflective qualities to baby strollers is Wagalum, a German maker of self-adhesive strips designed specifically to keep young children safe while on the go.

Billed as “headlights for prams,” Wagalum's reflective sticker set includes eight pieces in four different sizes to provide all-around visibility for babies in strollers. The stickers' microprismatic surface shines nine times brighter than comparable materials do, causing strollers bearing them to be seen six times earlier by other traffic participants and 85 percent less likely to be involved in an accident, Wagalum says. The strips meet all key DIN standards for traffic safety, and are apparently even officially recommended by the German police. Pricing online is EUR 9.90 for Wagalum's eight-piece set.

Wagalum's reflective strips are currently available at a number of stockists in Germany, but the company aims to expand to other countries soon, and it welcomes dealer inquiries. Retailers of children's products: this one's for you! (Related: Five business ideas focused on babies & new parentsColour-changing sleep suit signals baby's fever.)


Spotted by: Elisa Huijsman




December 15, 2010

One of the unfortunate realities of the pharmaceuticals industry is that promising new drugs are sometimes abandoned simply because they're not likely to be profitable. Aiming to give such medicines a chance at a new life — not to mention the patients who might benefit from them — Cinderella Therapeutics is a Dutch not-for-profit enterprise that picks up the most promising of such therapies and continues testing them.

Cinderella was founded by a team of seasoned Dutch and American scientist-entrepreneurs who have agreed to forgo personal financial gain in order to further the development of what they call “stepchild” medications — hence the organization's name. Toward that end, they have secured the collaboration of clinical investigators along with the financial support of creative philanthropists, and are now working on a new form of RadioImmunoTherapy (RIT) for brain tumours that continues and extends the work of a doctor in Italy 17 years ago. In 2011 the first patients with a recurrent GlioBlastoma Multifome will be entered in the Cinderella study; if it proves effective there, the treatment will be tested in patients with other incurable forms of cancer as well. Five other potential medicines are currently being evaluated by Cinderella for similar pursuit. “We do not hesitate to claim that Cinderella can develop new drugs quicker, more effectively and with a higher success rate by the combination of not-for-profit with a corporate approach,” explains cofounder Dick van Bekkum. Each study is directed by physician/scientists and focused on patients; participants include scientists at selected academic centers and philanthropists willing to provide both talent and working capital.

Following an open source approach, Cinderella seeks others to participate in its efforts, particularly those who have invented what later became stepchild therapies; physicians and scientists willing to help out on the research end; philanthropists for funding; and anyone else willing to help run the Cinderella Therapeutics Foundation or participate in one of its projects. All those with a scientific or health care bent: one to get involved in early? (Related: Making medicine as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola.)


Spotted by: Roxana Tigelaar




December 15, 2010

Residents and visitors to the Italian town of Ferrara may be able to enjoy its secret, pop-up Street Dinner events on occasion, but French consumers can enjoy something similar every month. Specifically, Les Terrasses Bleues holds a free gathering for drinks each month for a select group of invited guests.

Les Terrasses Bleues' events take place on the 16th of each month, each of them at one or more distinct locations in France. Its inaugural event in July, for instance, hosted some 1,200 attendees at the Musée Rodin, which was decked out in blue decorations for the occasion. Anyone can subscribe to Les Terrasses Bleues' Facebook page for updates via email. When the next event is imminent, the event's organizers send out a text message; the first set number of consumers to respond are given the event's secret location and invited to attend. There is no charge for Les Terrasses Bleues' evenings of drinks, but participants are required to wear blue. October's event was the last for this year, and it took place at numerous locations throughout France. More events are apparently planned for 2011.

There's no explicit mention so far of any corporate sponsors behind Les Terrasses Bleues, but we've heard it suggested that French beer brand Kronenbourg 1664 is involved. What is clear, however, is the universal appeal of the events' exclusiveness and secrecy. Canadian Charlie's Burgers is another one that has figured that out — something to emulate in your neck of the woods...?


Spotted by: Elisabeth Dien




December 14, 2010

Every day between 70 percent and 90 percent of online financial transactions are abandoned because consumers are told to finish them by taking their driving license, passport or utility bill to a local bank branch for in-person verification. That's according to UK-based miiCard, which aims to help solve that problem with a single sign-on for use at participating sites whenever identity validation is required.

Essentially, the miiCard lets consumers skip the offline identity-verification step by providing a third-party-validated identity to the vendor website. Once it launches officially, consumers will sign up for the miiCard by simply supplying basic personal information such as full name, address and date of birth. To add validation, they can then choose additional pieces of information to supply — the higher their resulting “level of assurance,” as the company puts it, the wider the range of services and products they'll have access to using the miiCard. In any case, every time consumers use their miiCard, their identity is verified via a series of secure token exchanges between them, their computer, their mobile phone and the website owner's computer system. miiCard is free to the consumer and charged to the vendor on a transactional basis.

Powered by Yodlee, the miiCard will enable consumers in North America, Western Europe, India and Australia to prove they are who they say they are. Currently, the company seeks business, channel and developer partners. One to get involved in early? (Related: Three wallet cards in one.)


Spotted by Ken Green




December 14, 2010

Much the way GreatCall's Jitterbug phones and the more recently debuted John's phones both focus on simplicity for the benefit of senior citizens, so Red Stamp Mail aims to make e-mail clear and easy for those who didn't grow up with it.

Operated by Israel-based Platonix Technologies, Red Stamp Mail is a completely web-based email client, requiring no downloads or installations. Rather, the service works with any existing email account that can be accessed via POP3 or IMAP — it even works with text-only browsers and screen readers. Whereas many e-mail programs today try to cram as much information as possible onto the screen — making them unsuitable for users with reduced eyesight or impaired motor skills — Red Stamp Mail was designed to offer a simple, accessible way to read and write email. Large, readable fonts and high-contrast colors help toward that end, as does the client's Mailbox Tab, which presents mail in a clear and simple format, grouped by day of arrival; it also gives users simple ways to search and filter their messages. Mail from established contacts is clearly marked, meanwhile, making it easy to filter out spam. After a 30-day free trial, Red Stamp Mail costs USD 18 for a year of service.

With more than 1.5 billion people over 65 expected worldwide by the year 2050, according to the US Census Bureau, there's no shortage of opportunities to tailor technology products and services accordingly. How can your brand open new technological doors to senior citizens...? (Related: Phone support for seniors, by seniorsRemote computer support for senior citizensFacebook tool prints and mails personal newsletterAn online address for the offline world.)


Spotted by: Itai Shirav 




December 14, 2010

Crowdsourcing has already shaken up the recruitment process in graphic design and numerous other fields, as we've noted on several occasions. What we hadn't seen until recently, however, is the concept applied in a structured way to the world of programming. Enter CanYouCode, a site that aims to match skilled coders with companies in need of programming help.

There are plenty of sites out there already dedicated to freelance coders, but many pay too little to attract the cream of the crop. That's where CanYouCode seeks to differ, with steps that verify the quality of both programmers and the companies hoping to hire them. “We manually verify all companies which offer services here,” the site explains. “Like how good their team is. Or maybe look at their Open Source contributions. And whether they have a standards-compliant, well-designed website.” Programmers are guaranteed a minimum rate of USD 35 per hour on jobs found through the site, but their LinkedIn profiles must be verified before they can bid. CanYouCode is currently targeting professionals in the U.S. and Europe. Based in Bangalore, India, CanYouCode is now looking for early-stage investors.

Contact: monthly briefing




December 13, 2010

It's more or less generally acknowledged by now that traditional advertising can no longer hold a candle to social media buzz. That's why we've seen bloggers so often wooed with free food and other rewards, and it's also why California-based marketing firm Attack created the Underground Book Club.

The Underground Book Club generates pre-release buzz for new book titles by engaging Attack's network of online brand ambassadors. From that network of more than 50,000 people, Attack uses proprietary staffing technology to pick out those whose interests mesh best with the genre and the particular book in question. Working with the author or literary agent, it then gets an advanced reading copy of the book into those ambassadors' hands months before it's due for release. Next, Attack creates what it calls an “immersive reading experience,” including everything from social media conversations to surprise engagements with “characters” and the author. Book lovers get the prestige of reading books early, in other words, while authors and literary agents get the benefit of early buzz.

In a promotion of Karen Essex's book “Dracula in Love,” for example, Attack pinpointed 55 brand ambassadors who were avid readers, vampire-fiction enthusiasts and active social media users. Daily Facebook conversations and an online video chat with the author were among the tools of engagement used. All together, the campaign produced 6,710 social media impressions, 619 click-throughs and a 9.2 percent click-through rate for the book. Figures like that are nothing to sneeze at — but they just might be something to emulate. ;-) (Related: Blogger helps connect consumers and brandsFood blogger turned intermediary & purveyor.)


Spotted by: Scott James




December 13, 2010

It's always inspiring to see a company expand in ways that reflect both sustainability and good synergy, and Spanish winemaker Group Matarromera recently did just that. With a history that includes more than 20 years of producing award-winning wines, the company has now launched a cosmetics line that makes use of the antioxidant-rich grape skins that are left over by the wine-making process.

Launched this past summer, Matarromera's Esdor cosmetics brand taps into the powerful polyphenols so abundant in the skins of red grapes. Using a patented process, the company extracts those antioxidant-rich compounds — it calls the result Eminol — and blends them with other natural ingredients to create its nourishing cream, moisturizer cream and eye contour products. Esdor cosmetics are all made with 85 percent natural compounds, including 7.5 percent Eminol and other ingredients including musk oil, caviar extract, jojoba oil and wheat germ oil; no parabens, mineral oils or artificial colors are included. Anti-aging, anti-wrinkling and improved skin elasticity are all among the properties the company claims for the Esdor line as a result of its antioxidant ingredients. Adding further to Esdor's eco-creds, meanwhile, is that its main office — surrounded by vineyards in the heart of Spain's Douro region — is a 100 percent sustainable building that generates more energy than it consumes.

Esdor cosmetics are available both online and at select Spanish retailers. One to help bring to your part of the world...? (Related: Juice mimics the benefits of red wine.)


Spotted by Leticia Pérez Prieto




December 13, 2010

For companies with a web or desktop application in the works, private beta testing can be a headache to organize and manage. What better pain relief, then, than a service that will handle it for them?

That's precisely the premise behind Prefinery, a Texas-based company that lets companies outsource the whole process. Clients of Prefinery can launch a web beta invite process in seconds, the company says, by customizing an HTML signup form and easily installing it on their site. Key questions can be included on that form, too, as a basis for selecting just the right testers. Next, clients can promote their product by distributing invitation codes on blogs, Twitter or Facebook. From there, they can collect email addresses and other survey information from potential testers — contact information is easily exported to a spreadsheet or XML file, or to various CRM and e-mail marketing services. While clients review tester applications, Prefinery's analytics can reveal insights such as how many times an invitation form is viewed, allowing the client to measure conversions. Finally, once the client approves applicants for its beta, Prefinery e-mails each accepted tester a unique invitation code from the client's e-mail address. Prefinery is free for up to 50 testers; its most popular plan, according to the site, allows 500 testers for USD 49 per month. A version of Prefinery for installable desktop applications is also available.

Where there's pain, there's opportunity, as in virtually every aspect of life. One to emulate on a localized or niche basis — or to try out for your own next big thing? (Related: Site gives authors quick reader feedback, based on page 99 — A personalized landing page for every customerTeam meeting space meets product testing groundFor planned websites, a 'coming soon' page in 1 minute.)


Spotted by: Margarita Barry




December 10, 2010

This is the fifth and final post in a series of articles on traceability. Written by Springwise, and supported by IBM. Check out our previous posts on informing consumers about child labour, milk tracking by a Swedish dairy, a registration service for product recalls and supermarkets offering increased food traceability, or read more about building a smarter planet.

For today's post, we've collected examples of ten food brands that give consumers access to information on the origins of their products' ingredients. While these efforts are baby steps toward true traceability — and critics are somewhat justified in their assertion that images of verdant fields and smiling farmers are little more than marketing tools — smart brands are nonetheless moving in the direction of increased transparency.

1. Stone-Buhr — Buyers of Stone-Buhr's All Purpose Flour can type in a lot code on the company's website to see which family farms grew the grain. Stone-Buhr's emphasis is on spotlighting the family-owned farms in the Northwest who supply it with certified sustainable wheat.

2. Coca-Cola — In the UK, Coca-Cola launched a web app that allows consumers to trace the origin of their can or bottle of Coke. Instead of divulging the sources of ingredients, Coca-Cola focuses on manufacturing locations, distribution and environmental impact. It estimates the carbon footprint of a drink, and shows the address of the factory it was made in.

3. Askinosie — Missouri-based chocolate maker Askinosie invites customers to enter a 'Choc-O-Lot' number to view the chocolate's geographical origin, as well as information about the farmers who grew the cocoa beans. The tool highlights the company's commitment both to quality and to a fair deal for farmers. Askinosie buys directly from farmers in Mexico, Phillipines, Tanzania and Ecuador, and doesn't purchase beans until they've met the farmers in person.

4. Dole Organic — Dole lets consumers “travel to the origin of each organic product”. By typing in a fruit sticker's three-digit code on Dole Organic's website, customers can find the story behind their banana or pineapple. Each farm's section on the website includes background info, shows photos of the crops and workers and tells consumers more about the origin of Dole's organic products.

5. Chippindale Foods — Chippindale Foods supplies free range eggs to supermarkets in northern England. The company created to allow consumers to find out where their eggs were laid. After entering the code printed on an egg carton, people can view pictures of 'their' farmer and hens, and read a history of the farm.

6. Frito-Lay — Another big brand that's embracing traceability is Frito-Lay. Its Chip Tracker lets consumers trace where a particular bag of chips was made, by entering their ZIP code along with the first three digits of the bag's product code. The site returns a specific location along with its annual output. An associated map, meanwhile, highlights both growing and production facilities.

7. Fresh Express — A subsidiary of Chiquita Brands and purveyor of washed and packaged salad greens, Fresh Express allows consumers to find the origin of their salad through a 'Leaf Locator' on the company's website. Fresh Express sources leafy greens from five US states and Mexico, and includes details on a location's climate, growing season and agricultural history.

8. Crop to Cup — Through Crop to Cup's website, consumers can trace their coffee back to the farmers who produced it. Drinkers of Uganda Bugisu coffee, for example, can read a profile of Peter Guimuii, who is married, has six children and approximately 5,000 coffee trees. The detailed personal information provided underscores Crop to Cup's goal of improving farmers' livelihoods.

9. Domino's Pizza — Pizza lovers don't enter product codes on 'Behind the Pizza', which was created by Domino's to give consumers more information on how their pizza ingredients are made. While the site does show manufacturing plants and farms it works with, the focus here is more on edutainment than targeted transparency.

10. Iglo — First featured on Springwise in 2008, 'Woher kommt Ihr Spinat' is still going strong. Created by Iglo, a European market leader in the frozen foods segment, the program gives consumers access to details on where their spinach came from. Offsetting its Big Brand reputation, Iglo displays pictures of the spinach grower and his or her family, alongside information about the farm.




December 10, 2010

The French are among the world's top consumers of bottled water, taking in an average of 128 litres each in 2009, according to a recent report on Reuters. Presumably with the resulting 262,000 tonnes of plastic waste in mind, Eau de Paris — the city's public water company — recently set up a new water fountain that dispenses sparkling water.

Located in Jardin de Reuilly, a park in eastern Paris, the new fountain injects city tap water with carbon dioxide and then chills it to a pleasing temperature. Underground springs feed the city half of its public water, while the other half is pumped and treated from the rivers Seine and Marne. At the new fountain — which is modeled after similar ones in Italy, the agency says — consumers can now get both still and bubbly versions. "Our aim is to boost the image of Paris tap water," Philippe Burguiere, spokesman for Eau de Paris, told Reuters. “We want to show that we're proud of it, that it's totally safe, and that it's ecological as there's no oil involved, no waste and no packaging.”

Cities can run recycling programs until they're blue in the proverbial face, but it would be hard for such efforts to beat a program that virtually eliminates the need for all those plastic bottles in the first place. Other cities around the globe: be inspired! (Related: Water-bottle refills at cafés, now with a charitable twistWater bottle's plunger-style filter purifies instantlyWater bottle with integrated filter purifies as you drinkReusable water bottle flattens & folds when empty.)


Spotted by Ana Camargo




December 10, 2010

It seems safe to say that most of us have experienced at one time or another the unpleasantness of having a song “stuck” in our heads, repeating over and over again long past its welcome. It's a predicament for which there's historically been little cure other than time; fortunately, more expedient help has finally arrived in the form of Unhearit.

A new venture from Washington-based startup Liftoff Media, Unhearit uses what it likes to call “the latest in reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology” to help afflicted consumers get stubborn songs out of their heads. Specifically, those currently suffering from the ailment — known as earworm — can visit the site to hear “equally catchy songs,” as Unhearit puts it. It's a cleverly disguised free music service, in other words, with streaming, download and purchase capabilities. Mobile apps for iPhone/iPod and Android phones are also available.

We've written fairly extensively already about brand butlers, but this just may be the first instance we've seen of one that's used to disguise a company's real value proposition; the humour inherent in that “disguise” only adds to the site's appeal. One to be inspired by! (Related: Beer brand provides a loaner if fridge dies during World Cup.)


Spotted by: Dietfried Globocnik




December 9, 2010

Much the way Ford's in-car driving coach aims to help drivers maximize their fuel efficiency, so a new iPhone app from Toyota Sweden hopes to help them reduce their emissions.

Dubbed A Glass of Water, the free app is based on the idea that if everyone drove with a glass of water on their dashboard — and aimed not to spill it — driving would be both gentler and more economical. Accordingly, the Glass of Water app records the user's driving distance, time, fuel consumption and “water” spilled. After each drive, the user can analyze the results and see on a map where they could improve their driving for the future. The results are automatically uploaded to Toyota's website and compared against those of other participants. Developed in partnership with Saatchi & Saatchi Sweden, the Glass of Water app was recently honoured in the 2010 Green Awards.

Aggressive acceleration and braking wastes fuel, so if all drivers in Sweden managed to avoid spilling their figurative “water,” carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by some 2 million tons per year, Toyota points out. What brand butler could *your* company offer to help consumers achieve similar savings at home or on the road...? (Related: Smart devices help households monitor their energy useEuropcar lists CO2 emissions on customer invoicesSmart thermostat is always onlineHome energy monitoring, delivered by Google.)





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.

medcottage Pop-up 'MedCottage' enables senior care at home
Homes & housing / Lifestyle & leisure

The MedCottage is a pop-up suite that families can use on their
property to care for seniors or those recovering from illness or injury.
It's equipped with a host of medical facilities and monitoring equipment.

backtotheroots Mushroom-growing kit uses recycled coffee grounds
Food & beverage / Eco & sustainability

Back to the Roots offers a grow-your-own mushroom garden kit
using soil made entirely from recycled coffee grounds. The all-in one
kit just needs to be moistened twice a day with a provided mister.

beelocal Grocery service collects & delivers from local shops

Beelocal is a food delivery service that works with local shops and
producers. Consumers order items directly from various vendors.
Beelocal then collects them all and delivers them in a single basket.

shrtn shrtn lets consumers earn money while sharing links
Life hacks / Marketing & advertising / Media & publishing

Link shortener shrtn has made a deal with online merchants so that
every time an item is purchased through a registered user's link,
shrtn receives a commission - and passes part of it on to the user.

bline More pedal-powered cargo delivery, now in Portland
Transportation / Eco & sustainability

Oregon-based B-line uses a fleet of electric-assisted tricycles with
attached trailers to provide a cost-effective and green solution for
last-mile goods deliveries. The trailers feature advertising space, too.

photoboxi Digital photo booth uses free photos as marketing tool
Entertainment / Marketing & advertising

Consumers pose for free photos using the rented PhotoBoxi booth.
The photos are delivered over the web along with an advert - which
will be disseminated virally as the images are shared online.

bumpedin Social network helps commuters meet others on the go
Life hacks / Transportation

Users of enter their travel plans to find other users
travelling in close proximity. They can then share tips and photos,
send messages, and even connect in person en route.

whatcanimakeforyou Connecting consumers with makers of custom goods
Style & design

What Can I Make for You offers to help find a custom-builder for
virtually any product a consumer might need. Users submit a
request and the site searches its database for the right artisan.

nhow Lifestyle hotel focuses on music
Tourism & travel / Entertainment

Berlin's Nhow hotel boasts professional music studios, rooms with
high quality iPod-friendly entertainment systems, and even guitars
available through room service. It's also a live performance venue.

formalitees T-shirts for grown-ups feature built-in ties
Fashion & beauty

Idaho-based startup Formalitees recently launched the Tie Tee,
an organic cotton t-shirt with an actual tie permanently attached
at the neck. One percent of sales goes to environmental causes.

deltakiosks Meals delivered to the gate at New York airports
Tourism & travel / Food & beverage

Thanks to a Delta Air Lines and airport restaurant partnership,
travellers can use iPad kiosks near their departure gates to order
meals. Delivery to the gate within 10 minutes is guaranteed.

tastebuds Matchmaking site focuses on musical taste
Lifestyle & leisure / Entertainment

Tastebuds is a UK-based matchmaking site that makes connections
based on shared musical passions. Users can connect their
accounts or simply list some favourite artists to get started.




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