Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Opportunities

Opening up entertaining (not to mention appetizing) global outposts that generate both instant cash and future income from increased tourism/trade is far more profitable than boring brochures and travel trade shows. Country and city governments from Belgium to Chile should take notice, as should clever design/food/brand experts, who could set up dedicated ‘city/country branding’ consulting and implementation ventures. Useful links http://www.depthai.go.th

Thai government develops restaurant franchises

Now this is TRUE country-branding: Thailand’s government is developing Thai food franchises along the lines of the McDonald’s chain. The highly branded outlets will be known as Golden Leaf, Cool Basil and Elephant Jump. The goal is to open 3,000 restaurants worldwide, in cooperation with joint-venture partners. Kicking off this remarkable initiative, two ‘Elephant Jump’ outlets recently opened in London. In the US, franchise fees would be US$30,000 for Golden Leaf, $20,000 for Cool Basil and $10,000 for Elephant Jump. Franchisees would pay 3% of their annual revenue to the holding company, which would see a 30% Thai government ownership.With tourism now the world’s largest industry, and smaller countries scrambling to be heard and seen amidst the explosion of travel destinations, Thailand shows that it understands the future of ‘popular embassies’.

Opportunities

Opening up entertaining (not to mention appetizing) global outposts that generate both instant cash and future income from increased tourism/trade is far more profitable than boring brochures and travel trade shows. Country and city governments from Belgium to Chile should take notice, as should clever design/food/brand experts, who could set up dedicated ‘city/country branding’ consulting and implementation ventures. Useful links http://www.depthai.go.th

Opportunities

This potentially global market is growing rapidly in the US and the UK, with most other countries still wide-open for cool new mass brands with smooth marketing. Both franchise and start-up possibilities seem plentiful!

Smoothies are a billion dollar market in the US. What about the rest of the world?

These fresh fruit drinks (usually a blended mix of fruit juices with yoghurt or crushed ice) are now a 1 billion dollar market in the US (according to the Juice and Smoothie Association (JASA). Anticipating an ever growing need for fresh, healthy products, smoothies have become a branded alternative to soft drinks and traditional fruit juices/lemonades. They also prove to be the perfect vehicle to get consumers to swallow supplements that will help them with their diets, sports performance and general well-being. Smoothie bars cater to those who want to replace other snacks and light meals with the fruity alternative, while in-store placements by consumer brands serve grocery shoppers and quick-buy customers. Players such as US-based Fresh Samantha (Fresh Samantha was purchased by Odwalla in 2000. In 2003, the decision was made to phase out the Fresh Samantha line in order to focus on building the Odwalla brand), Snapple, and Naked, go for in-store placements, a strategy that Innocent Drinks has successfully mirrored in the UK. General Nutrition Centers (GNC), the largest US specialty retailer of vitamins and supplements, is opening up as many as 300 GNC Smoothie Bars in 2002 as branded elements of its company-owned and franchise stores.

Opportunities

This potentially global market is growing rapidly in the US and the UK, with most other countries still wide-open for cool new mass brands with smooth marketing. Both franchise and start-up possibilities seem plentiful!

Opportunities

Great for any type of confidential paid-for content (obviously not for anything that requires registration, a delivery address or personalization). A more innocent use for pre-paid cards could be found amongst the scores of people who simply don’t have a credit card to their disposal, but who still want to buy online. A number of similar initiatives in the US and UK have failed in the past, mainly due to limited distribution options, but the ever increasing online population means that there is still a big market out there. Study how the phone guys did it (if you’re not in the phone business already), and partner up with banks, ISPs, telcos and what have you to build credibility and points of sale!

Adapting the pre-paid phone card model for online transactions

Pre-paid calling cards for mobile telephony have taken Europe by storm; they cater to the budget-conscious and the flexible crowd alike. Another value these cards have to offer is anonymity. For those wishing to guard their privacy, pre-paid cards are the only alternative to good old cash. Especially online, where current payment methods automatically mean that you’ll have to disclose personal information. So why not translate the pre-paid phone card model to the world of online transactions? There are many content sites consumers would prefer to transact with anonymously, with adult sites being an obvious example. Canadian firm Yourbrain Media has jumped at this opportunity and is introducing Adult XXX Cards across the US in convenience stores as we speak.

Opportunities

Great for any type of confidential paid-for content (obviously not for anything that requires registration, a delivery address or personalization). A more innocent use for pre-paid cards could be found amongst the scores of people who simply don’t have a credit card to their disposal, but who still want to buy online. A number of similar initiatives in the US and UK have failed in the past, mainly due to limited distribution options, but the ever increasing online population means that there is still a big market out there. Study how the phone guys did it (if you’re not in the phone business already), and partner up with banks, ISPs, telcos and what have you to build credibility and points of sale!

Opportunities

A nice get-together for the entertainment economy and the online world: organisers, small and big, will forever be in need of quick-and-easy-to-launch micro websites. Think conferences, concerts, seminars, festivals, classes, reunions, alumni events, training, dinners, workshops, raves, receptions, plays and fund raisers. Get some good creatives and programmers together, get to know the world of events, close a deal with Pay Pal or a similar company in your own country, and you’re in business.

Event-based micro websites that can handle transactions

Organising an exclusive wine-tasting? Piano concert? Invitation-only dance party? You’re more than likely to need a one-off or temporary web site that can take RSVP’s and payments without the need for a dedicated IT team on your payroll. This is where Mollyguard comes in: the company allows event organisers to quickly and effortlessly collect registration fees online for your events. In their own words: “Mollyguard’s services are built on top of PayPal‘s payment platform. There are two services to date: Mollyguard Events, which allows event holders to collect registration fees online for their events and Mollyguard Groups, which provides the ability to collect fees and manage subscribers of email newsletters. Mollyguard generates a unique URL (Web address) which includes the online purchasing capability, and is hosted by us. Alternatively, we provide custom HTML code for you to insert in your own website to instantly ecommerce enable your website for your event sales.”

Opportunities

A nice get-together for the entertainment economy and the online world: organisers, small and big, will forever be in need of quick-and-easy-to-launch micro websites. Think conferences, concerts, seminars, festivals, classes, reunions, alumni events, training, dinners, workshops, raves, receptions, plays and fund raisers. Get some good creatives and programmers together, get to know the world of events, close a deal with Pay Pal or a similar company in your own country, and you’re in business.

Opportunities

Yet another massive potential market that is maturing thanks to the Internet. Aggregating buyers and sellers, and facilitating risk-free transactions for high-interest goods (from Mitsuko Uchida to Arsenal to Madonna) can’t go wrong. Great to set up as a targeted service on behalf of one or two major event organisers; should do well in any country where concert goers and sports fanatics enjoy sufficient online access (so make that 500 million people). Useful links http://www.ticketmaster.com http://www.stubhub.com/ http://www.tickets.com

Online marketplaces might drive hawkers out of business

In the US alone, unused (or ‘secondary’) sports/concert tickets account for an annual 12 billion USD in transactions between desperate fans and both legal and illegal owners of much-wanted ‘admit ones’. To take the hassle out of re-selling and having to deal with potentially shady characters, a number of ventures have jumped into this market, and set up online marketplaces for reselling season tickets. The services guarantee a ticket’s authenticity, and there’s no need for (unwanted) contact between buyer and seller.

Opportunities

Yet another massive potential market that is maturing thanks to the Internet. Aggregating buyers and sellers, and facilitating risk-free transactions for high-interest goods (from Mitsuko Uchida to Arsenal to Madonna) can’t go wrong. Great to set up as a targeted service on behalf of one or two major event organisers; should do well in any country where concert goers and sports fanatics enjoy sufficient online access (so make that 500 million people). Useful links http://www.ticketmaster.com http://www.stubhub.com/ http://www.tickets.com

Opportunities

A relatively inexpensive service to set up, which should do well in most countries. For a creative, business-savvy team of visually (and analytically) gifted professionals, this could be a great full-time or extra service to offer to the business community. Start-up costs are low, imagination rules. Would work as an additional service for existing consulting firms and agencies as well. XPLANE currently seems pretty much US-focused, so the global market is wide-open.

Cartoon-style one pagers make complex ideas easier to understand

Whether you’re selling a new idea or proposal to a client or to your superiors, the risk of getting an answer that rhymes with ‘GO’ is as big as your proposal is bulky. So how to get the ‘VP of No’ hooked on your brilliant product improvement or expansion strategy? US-based XPLANE develops visual stories that help decision makers understand complex ideas. Propositions are brought back to their essence (as they well should be!) and visualised in cartoon-style one pagers. Recognizing XPLANE’s powerful imagery, business magazine Business 2.0 regulary relies on the company’s XPLANATIONS™ to visualize and summarize articles.

Opportunities

A relatively inexpensive service to set up, which should do well in most countries. For a creative, business-savvy team of visually (and analytically) gifted professionals, this could be a great full-time or extra service to offer to the business community. Start-up costs are low, imagination rules. Would work as an additional service for existing consulting firms and agencies as well. XPLANE currently seems pretty much US-focused, so the global market is wide-open.

Opportunities

The key cord is definitely making inroads across the world, but as the massive popularity in the Netherlands has shown, the market is many times bigger than its current focus on (mainly) displaying ID-Cards. Sell them branded, hand-painted, in mass or limited editions, buy them in bulk or manufacture them yourself: people will wear them, faster than you can say ‘sleutelkoord’. Useful links http://www.eelabels.com http://www.idcband.co.uk

Fashion statement meets usability

Hundreds of thousands of Dutchies now spend their days chained to their keys. The popular key cords (‘sleutelkoord’) have taken the country by storm, giving advertisers the chance to splash their brands all over the flat nylon lanyards. On the user side: forgetful individuals finally have their mobile phones, keys and ID-cards handy. Key cords are fast becoming Holland’s number one promotional gift. No doubt some of the cords will soon become collectors items, though we haven’t spotted any Viktor and Rolf cords yet.

Opportunities

The key cord is definitely making inroads across the world, but as the massive popularity in the Netherlands has shown, the market is many times bigger than its current focus on (mainly) displaying ID-Cards. Sell them branded, hand-painted, in mass or limited editions, buy them in bulk or manufacture them yourself: people will wear them, faster than you can say ‘sleutelkoord’. Useful links http://www.eelabels.com http://www.idcband.co.uk Whether you live in bustling London, Tokyo, New York or any other too-expensive-for-your-own-good metropolis, chances are the thing you crave most is SPACE. Space management is booming business, and the following three concepts have global appeal. Hold Everything, owned by US-based Williams-Sonoma Inc, who also own Pottery Barn, offers efficient yet stylish products to get your home or office in order. Its customers appreciate the targeted focus, and the sheer number of expected and unexpected solutions. City Closet: this New York-based company has set up a very mobile closet solution for owners of closet-challenged apartments: it will deliver a closet (which you can customize online) to your house, including any packaging materials you may need. You then load off your excess clothes, collectibles, books and what have you, they’ll pick up the movable closet within 24 hours, and store it for you in one of their warehouses. Need something? City Closet will bring back the closet whenever you want them to; (you get two free returns a year to start with). A patent is pending. Manhattan Mini Storage: for a more traditional storage model (yet still not common-place in most of the world), check out Manhattan Mini Storage, whose safe and spacious storage rooms have started doubling as dressing rooms and small business offices for some Manhattanites.

Opportunities

Hold Everything, City Closet and Manhattan Mini Storage cater to true urbanites lacking space and willing to pay for innovative, convenient storage solutions. However, this market is many, many times bigger than the current New York/San Francisco scope: millions of small urban dwellings in Europe and Asia spring to mind!

Personalizing mobile phones with keitai straps | Yes, our cell/mobile phones are now fashion statements, and after replaceable fronts and funny ring tones, it is time for the keitai strap (Japanese for cell phone strap).

A massive success in Japan for a while now, equally mobile-phone-crazy Europe could be next. Adorn your phone with 1 euro bead-straps or super-deluxe 100 euro Prada and Gucci hangers, and the world will not only hear but also see what you’re about.

Sure, some of the real Strap Fanatics have turned their phones into cellular Christmas trees, transforming their ultra light phones to early-90’s heavy bricks, but it’s all about standing out in the crowd.

Opportunities