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HireVue is an online video system developed to help companies speed up the process of job interviews. From Monsterboard to Craigslist to YorZ, advertising jobs online has become a standard part of the recruitment process. The part of recruiting that has been lagging in its uptake of online technology, is the job interview. By conducting automated, online video Q&A sessions, HireVue (spotted by our friends at PSFK), aims to revolutionize how recruiters view and select candidates. Instead of sifting through resumes, they can watch candidates answer a set of specific questions, allowing in-depth screening before inviting people for face-to-face interviews. Hiring managers submit questions, which appear on a candidate’s screen for 30 seconds before a webcam begins to record his or her response. Videos are then posted online for recruiters to view when and where they want. HireVue expects to be running 4,000 interviews a month by the end of the year. The advantages are obvious: video ‘pre-interviews’ enable companies to widen their net and evaluate more candidates, without the time and money required by traditional first round interviews. In addition, recruiters can replay certain answers, compare responses by various candidates, or use the video to refresh their memory before the actual interview. One to partner with if you’re in human resources or the recruitment business! Following in the footsteps of vineyard sharing concepts like WineShare and St. Helena Winery’s Adopt-A-Vine, Nudo lets customers adopt an olive tree. Founded by two former British television producers who decided to ditch the rat race for a farm in rural Italy, Nudo is an olive grove that offers trees for adoption. Customers pick their own tree from one of eight sections of the grove. Each plot of land is described in detail; for example, Il Sogno: “Reached via the (friendly) farmer’s field next door and a small bramble forest, the trees here are more au naturel but seem happy that way.” For GBP 60 (USD 110/EUR 90) per year, plus shipping, customers receive all the produce from their adopted tree. Besides an adoption certificate and booklet about the tree, this includes a spring package containing extra virgin olive oil, and an autumn package of lemon olive oil and handmade soaps. (To be precise, the oil doesn’t come from the actual tree, but is a share of the crop produced by a section of trees.) So far, 548 of the 881 trees have been adopted. The exact amount of oil depends on the year’s harvest, but each tree normally produces between one and three litres per year. Which makes for fairly expensive olive oil, but of course the charming story is a large part of the deal. Not only can customers drizzle their salads with oil from their very own tree on an Italian hillside, but if they decide to visit the grove, adopters are offered a picnic under the shade of their knotty olive. Everyone benefits: consumers can connect to the source of their (organic) food; new, entrepreneurial farmers gain a steady income; and small scale, artisanal farming helps keep the countryside looking quintessentially Italian. Turkish diaper brand Evy Baby is reaching out to parents by placing changing rooms in shopping malls. Evy Baby is showing parents of nappy-clad infants some well-deserved sympathy. The diaper manufacturer has installed changing rooms in 12 shopping centers, and is planning to open more in the near future. Each clean and cheerful baby room has a changing table and comfortable chairs for nursing. And, of course, samples of Evy Baby’s products. Letting customers sample your wares in a branded environment that offers them something they really need — that’s where tryvertising meets brand spaces. Whether it’s free wifi in an airport, or a changing room in a busy shopping mall, everyone values a helping hand. Check out trendwatching.com’s brand spaces and tryvertising briefings for more great examples. Meanwhile, P&G and Kimberly-Clark: what are you waiting for? Demonstrating yet again that everything can be upgraded, London’s Harrods recently opened a luxury convenience store across the street from its famous Food Halls. Dubbed Harrods 102, the new store brings luxury and convenience together in a one-stop concept. Besides selling groceries and wine, Harrods 102 also houses a Yo! Sushi bar, a Krispy Kreme stand, florist, pharmacist, dry cleaning service, and oxygen bar. “These additional retail and service offers put Harrods closer to their customers’ everyday needs and delivers a new emotional relationship,” says Stephen Cribbett of Landini Associates, which designed both the store and its brand identity. (Landini also developed redroomdvd, which is to Blockbuster what Harrods 102 is to 7-Eleven.) Adding to the convenience, Harrods 102 features a concierge service that will hand-deliver goods to local residents. Open from 7 am to 11 pm, the shop’s cool, modern interior combines dark timber, stainless steel and natural stone, and is drawing droves of well-heeled shoppers. We wouldn’t be surprised if Harrods opened 102 stores in other UK cities, and there’s little doubt that time-starved urban consumers across the world would welcome similar retail combinations of food, well-being and convenience. Back in 2004, we wrote about ClubMom (Moms get their own executive benefits), a free membership program in the United States that rewarded mothers for shopping at participating online and offline retailers. It also provided them with tips and time-savers, and ways to connect with other moms. Although rewards are still part of the offering, ClubMom recently shifted its focus to the community aspect, pitching itself as “the premier online destination for moms, by moms – bringing together the best of what real moms have to say on topics they care about most.” Aiming to be the first social network for mothers, ClubMom’s MomNetwork lets mothers create profiles, set up blogs, and connect with other moms with shared challenges and interests. For advice on everything from dealing with ADD to gardening, the network’s users can consult both experts and Go-To Moms. Given the popularity of mommy blogs and social networks, it isn’t surprising that ClubMom wants to attract more visitors by building a community. One to watch, and copy to other countries. After all, where mommies go, advertisers follow! Cosmocard machines combine photo booths with postcard vending. Berlin-based Cosmocard developed a machine that lets customers take their picture and have it printed on a themed postcard, all within 90 seconds. The six foot tall machines have been placed at several tourist-friendly locations in Berlin, including the Brandenburg Gate, allowing customers to work some authentic background scenery into their postcard portraits. Cosmocards are priced at EUR 3 per card. Another example of turning consumer gravanity into a fun product, that should appeal to vending machine entrepreneurs, and would make a crowd-pleasing addition to tourist attractions and souvenir shops everywhere. (For more gravanity inspired products and services, check out our previous articles on: banking cards, wrapping paper, wallpaper, confetti, and stamps.) Perfect for consumers who love personalizing their spaces and changing their minds, companies like Blik and Wonderful Graffiti sell decorative wall graphics that can be applied and removed at whim. Blik has a wide range of surface graphics, ranging from designs by Keith Haring and Charles & Ray Eames to space invaders and farm animals. Their self-adhesive wall decals allow consumers to transform the look of a living room or office space in minutes. Made of PVC, the wall stickers look like paint once they’ve been applied. Pricing is around USD 40-50 per kit, and sheets of custom text start at USD 100. Focusing on the power of words, Wonderful Graffiti sticks to selling letters. The company was founded by a former copywriter with a strong love of typography, and offers ready-made poems and quotations, as well as letting customers create their own word designs. Words are delivered on sheets, ready to stick on walls without having to measure out spacing. Since the ‘graffiti’ is easy to remove, it’s also well suited to temporary decorations for special events like weddings or holidays. Nice one to distribute to local markets. And opportunities await minipreneurs who’d like to sell their creativity as wall decorators, specializing in designing and applying graphics in homes and offices. For more wall decoration ideas, read what we wrote about Wallpaper 2.0. Using small-dose financing, Microsoft’s FlexGo is attempting to make computers available to more consumers in developing countries. Customers will pay approximately half the price of a computer upfront. Usage is paid by the hour, and after a few hundred hours of use, the user will own the pc outright. Like prepaid cell phones, consumers buy prepaid cards with a code that gives them access to the pc for a certain amount of time. Microsoft is primarily targeting consumers who already use computers at work or school, but can’t afford to buy their own. Compared to conventional monthly payment plans, pay-as-you-go financing is far more flexible, and allows consumers to scale down their computer use if money is tight. Which is a familiar concept for prepaid phones (74% of mobile phones in emerging markets are prepaid), but new for the computer industry. For more examples of micro-selling to emerging markets, check out trendwatching.com’s sachet marketing. Although nothing beats fresh fruit, and apples and bananas are conveniently packaged by nature, sometimes consumers favour something even easier. E4B (“Easy for Busy”) steps up to the challenge, packing the puree of multiple fruits into portable pouches. E4B’s mango flavour, for example, contains 2 mangos, 1 apple, half a banana, and no artificial additives. Packaging was originally developed in Japan for Nasa, and the pouch’s seven layers make for a shelf-life of a year. The products are slurpable, but presented as snacks, not drinks. Pricing seems a bit steep at USD 5.99, and the product is currently only available in (parts) of the United States. Uniting two major trends – convenience and health – continues to create opportunities for new products in many industries, not just food and beverage. Make it easy for your customers to stay healthy! Update | A reader kindly alerted us to the fact that E4B wasn’t the first to create this product. French manufacturer Materne has been making Pom’Potes for quite a while, in seven apple-based varieties. Priced more reasonably than E4B, French online grocer Telemarket.fr sells boxes of 12 x 90 gram Pom’Potes for EUR 5.55. Thanks, Gwen! While most cell phones tout an abundance of bells and whistles, two companies are focusing on the substantial market for simpler phones. Founded by Arlene Harris, a telecoms veteran, and her husband Martin Cooper, who helped develop the first portable cell phone for Motorola in 1973, GreatCall is a new wireless company that will target baby boomers and their parents. While the network isn’t yet operational, GreatCall’s Jitterbug, a combination of handset and service provider, will soon start shipping phones. Manufactured by Samsung, the phones have big buttons, a bright screen, easy to read text, and loud and clear sound. One version (Jitterbug OneTouch) is simplified even further, its number keys replaced by three emergency buttons: one for 911, a second for Jitterbug’s operator, and a third for a personalized direct dial number. Operators are an important element of Jitterbug’s services. Besides looking up numbers or placing calls for customers, operators can program a phone’s contact list over the network. Each customer is also provided with an individual webpage that can be used to edit the phone list, or set service options, which means that children or grandchildren can help their less technically adept relatives configure their phones. Jitterbug’s pricing has yet to be set, but plans will be available from USD 10 per month. Last year, Vodafone launched a somewhat similar service in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Vodafone Simply combines no-frills phones with uncomplicated price plans. Though certainly easier to use than most phones, Vodafone’s attempt can’t rival Jitterbug’s extra services and meticulous design. Jitterbug is an inspiring example for entrepreneurs who’d like to develop products or services for older consumers. Who will do the same for other industries? How about combining computers, software and broadband service into one easy package?