Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

We liked Zopa.com (consumer to consumer lending), daylo.com (consumers buying, selling and exchanging services in their local area), fundable.org (aggregating consumer demand), and we certainly like YorZ, a community designed to help consumers refer candidates for great jobs and make money from it. All these ventures are turning consumers into prosumers if not minipreneurs, while giving a new meaning to the concept of intermediation; they’re middlemen on behalf of consumers, not only saving consumers money but also helping them make money. So back to YorZ, where members can find a job or post a job listing including an optional bounty (a referral reward) to encourage people to refer quality candidates. In fact, while normal postings cost USD 10, the fee is waived if the employer chooses to pay a success-based bounty of USD 50 (EUR 39.90/GBP 27.10) or more. The bounty system encourages consumers to become headhunters, scouting their friends, colleagues and family for listed jobs. Obviously, the bounty is only awarded if an employee is successfully sourced through YorZ, while the employer is asked to leave feedback about referrers and candidates. At last count, YorZ listed 874 jobs, and a total of USD 143,310 in bounties.

Opportunities

Every employer knows that the right person for the right job is out there somewhere: how to locate them is the real challenge. Companies have long been rewarding their own employees for bringing in talent: now, companies like YorZ are casting an even bigger net, cleverly turning to the rest of the world for help. They also realize that in a rapidly professionalizing customer made marketplace, they will have to pony up serious money to entice knowledgeable consumers to participate. It still beats paying an entire year’s salary to a headhunter, though! And sticking with getting customers and consumers involved in your corporate processes: the YorZ bounty system would work for all kinds of quests and challenges (and thus new intermediary concepts). Consumers as participants, not just audiences: everyone will win! TRENDWATCHING.COM’s GRAVANITY trend is not exactly fading yet: every month, we receive spottings of new goods, services and experiences designed to make consumers feel like VIPs, if not guaranteeing them immortality. From MyTwinn dolls to the Reality Village (see this edition). The most personal service spotted so far? CATGee, part of DNA Products, which lets ordinary folks capture and store their own DNA, for self discovery or for future generations. At a cost of GBP 19.95 (USD 36.80/EUR 30), customers preserve can their DNA on a CATGee storage card. Each DNA snapshot consists of a unique series of numbers (a DNA code) drawn from analysis of certain key locations on personal strands of DNA. From this code, the company will also generate a unique DNA image. It comes embedded in a plastic ID card, as well as in full digital format so it can be used to personalize clothing, possessions, email messages and so on. Needless to say, CATGee is more than willing to do the customizing for you: on the website, t-shirts and mugs now await GRAVANITY stricken individuals. (more…) We reported on nearly-free short term rental cars in Europe a long time ago; leave it to entrepreneurs and marketers from around the world to add some really interesting twists, turning a new corner in Carvertising. In Austria, CoolCar offers long term (12-48 months) rental cars decked out in ads, including the Mini One and the Citroen C4, for only EUR 199 (USD 249/GBP 135) per month if drivers make enough miles. The lease also includes insurance and service costs, and obviously provides an interesting alternative to buying or leasing a regular car. And in Australia, KahDo cars offers this service to enterprising consumers in Sydney and Melbourne (Brisbane coming soon) for even less: a new Smart car for USD 26 per week, including all maintenance and roadside assistance. Advertising is changed at least once a quarter at a KahDo depot. Drivers also get access to free quarterly Club KahDo parties, as well as events and promotions co-sponsored by KahDo and its advertisers. The twist? KahDo actively hand-picks drivers (from age and lifestyle to the neighborhoods they tend to frequent), so it can pair its 100 branded cars with the appropriate representatives on behalf of their advertisers. The latter can also equip the drivers with other goodies and samples of their products, turning them into mobile and human billboards. (Sources: Gizmag)

Opportunities

Companies like CoolCar and KahDo are cleverly tapping into a consumer base that is much more interested (and savvy) in making some money on the side. It also doesn’t hurt that in many crowded European cities, car ownership is not necessarily seen as the ultimate must-have anymore, opening the door to a much more casual approach to car rentals. Even though it sometimes may not seem that way, there are still not enough reality TV shows to host ALL the consumers in this world who crave instant fame and shame. To the rescue comes Reality Village, part of the Bravo Club in Stintino (Sardinia), a new type of holiday village in Italy inspired by Big Brother and numerous other reality TV shows. Bravo itself is owned by Alpitour, the largest tour operator in Italy. The ‘adventure’ begins upon arrival at the village, where 180 guests go through a real casting session to form six teams of each 30 people, facing a week of challenges, all captured by ubiquitous cameras. Think putting together a naturist calendar, cooking a dish or taking part in pool games. Every night, footage is shown and judges announce an individual winner who gets to pick another contestant to take to a holiday suite and spend the night with. The day’s loser will be sent out on a raft together with a person of his/her choice. Cost: EUR 1,000 to EUR 1,500 (USD 1,255-1,880/GBP 680-1,020) per person depending on the period; not surprisingly, participants were mostly young singles and married couples. The first Reality Village ‘experiment’ lasted 12 weeks (June-August 2005); some footage may be shown on national TV this month.

Opportunities

Why do we fear that this concept would do just as well in holiday villages in the US, Taiwan or South Africa? Consumers will go to great lengths to get their fix of attention and celeb status, so there’s money to be made if you’re in entertainment, lodging or advertising. Just don’t tell people you read about it here first 😉 Still sour you missed out on the Bugaboo revolution a few years ago? Here’s another chance to profit by copying Danes and Dutchies obsessed with upscale, trendy, and well-designed personal transportation concepts. Like the Danish trioBike, an haute-design carrier bike with three functions. It can be used as a carrier bike, an ordinary bike, or, after dismantling, a lightweight pushchair holding two children. Ideal for modern families in urban environments with well functioning public transportation (no wonder these innovations tend to surface in well planned societies first!). The product, at a cost of approx EUR 2,000 (USD 2,507/GBP 1,360), is sold in the Danish market. Northern Europe, the US and The Netherlands are next in line. (more…)