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We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas we covered in 2006. Today – ten style & design concepts to be inspired by.
  1. Mass made to order, here: Unto This Last is a miniature Ikea, situated on Brick Lane in London’s East End. Like Ikea, prices are low and many products are sold as flat-packs (pre-assembly optional). Unlike Ikea, everything is manufactured uber-locally, and the designs aren’t overly familiar. The workshop uses the latest 3D modelling software to design and produce innovative and inexpensive furniture, which it sells directly to the public. Orders are manufactured to measure, within a week, at mass-production prices. More »

  2. Repackaging barcodes: Japanese Design Barcode turns standard barcodes into appealing and engaging brand elements. Following laundry services, supermarkets and coffins in our recurring ‘everything can be reinvented’ theme, come the humble stripes and digits that shape the ubiquitous barcode, as reinvented by Design Barcode. Fifteen companies are currently using the agency’s novel barcodes as part of their packaging design. (A video showing examples can be viewed here.) The designs are clever and whimsical, from bars being picked up by chopsticks for a ramen noodles package, to a zebra carrying the black and white stripes on its back. More »

  3. Sexy supermarkets in the Alps: MPreis, a chain of supermarkets in western Austria, bills itself as “The Seriously Sexy Supermarket”. The company’s stores literally stand out because of their unusual and progressive architecture. MPreis has been commissioning up and coming architects for the last fifteen years, encouraging them to design buildings that make the most of their settings in the Tyrolean Alps. Which is in stark contrast to most chain retailers, who find a formula and repeat it, regardless of location. More »

  4. Customer-manufactured: What blogs, citizen journalism and YouTube have done for media, CrowdSpirit hopes to do for product development. The Scottish-French venture’s focus is on harnessing the power of crowds to allow inventors and adaptors to take their products to market. By involving end-users in every aspect of a product’s life-cycle, CrowdSpirit aims to set off a crowdsourced manufacturing revolution. More »

  5. Luxury loos on location: Tired of our Everything Can be Upgraded theme yet? We’re not. Not as long as there are new business ideas like Igloo’s Luxury Portable Loos. Offering the ‘ultimate luxury portable toilets for the corporate and private events industry within the UK and across Europe’, the company has beautified (and sanitized) events like the Brit Awards, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the Stella Artois Tennis Tournament, the G-8 Summit and the Volvo Golf Masters in Andalusia. More »

  6. Customer-made wallpaper for naked walls: Combining one of today’s leading consumer trends (customer-made) with a continuing trend in interior design (wallpaper), Naked & Angry just launched its line of user-designed wallpaper. Wallcoverings constitute Naked & Angry’s second series of products featuring patterns created by the brand’s audience. Anyone can submit a pattern design, which is scored by other Naked & Angry users. The highest scoring designs are manufactured in limited runs, with patterns providing inspiration for what the actual product will be. More »

  7. Old-fashioned bikes for the new world: Vancouver-based Jorg & Olif sell Dutch bikes to Canadian urban cyclists. The two-year-old company took a classic design and added Japanese hub gears and drum brakes to tackle North American cities (i.e. cities that aren’t utterly flat). Aside from that modification, Jorg & Olif bikes are utterly old-fashioned: heavy and black. A strong rear carrier handles extra baggage, and a woven basket is an optional extra. Saddle and handlebars are positioned for upright riding, which allows bikers a safer view of traffic and a better view of the scenery rolling by. More »

  8. Masonry for beginners: Created by a Dutch company, Brickadoo is a building toy. Instead of providing an easy click-and-go system (like Lego), Brickadoo building kits come with little bags of mortar. Children mix the mortar in a mixing tub and slap it on the bricks with a small trowel. If they want to build something else, they just dip the entire house in water, which dissolves the mortar and releases the bricks for another round of masonry. Each kit comes with enough mortar to rebuild a house three or four times. More »

  9. Custom-made avatars: Not long ago, we featured two small companies dedicated to creating custom-made avatars. A third example of this creative cottage industry was recently spotted in the UK. Bless This Chick creates mini-portraits that illustrate someone’s online or offline identity. Customers send Bless This Chick details of the person to be illustrated, pay by PayPal, and receive a hand-drawn portrait by email a few days later. What are they for? Consumers can stick their chick on their personal website or MySpace page, add it to their email signature, or use it as an avatar on blogs or chatrooms. More »

  10. Office supplies, upgraded: Offering an alternative to boring office supplies, russell+hazel sells stylish binders, paper, storage and accessories. Minneapolis-based russell+hazel, founded by a former architect, is a range of aesthetically pleasing office supplies that combine a designed look with durable quality. The company’s newest range, Audrey, is a fashion-forward selection specifically tailored to women, offering ‘working girl chic’ supplies with details inspired by vintage architecture, classic Hollywood and contemporary couture. More »
We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas of 2006.
  1. Bands funded by their fans: Aiming to empower independent artists, SellaBand has created a platform that enables fans to sponsor bands, and get a piece of the action in return. How it works: fans, dubbed Believers, find an artist they like on SellaBand.com. For USD 10, they can buy a share, or ‘Part’. Once the band has sold 5,000 parts, SellaBand arranges a professional recording, including top studios, A&R managers and producers. More »

  2. Urban amusement park: Located in the heart of Boston, 5W!TS (five wits) is both a venue and the producer of an interactive, walk-through adventure game. Think of it as an urban amusement park, with just one ride: a very elaborate, very high-tech haunted house. 5W!TS’ first show is TOMB, a 40-minute adventure set in a realistic rendition of an archaeological dig site in Egypt. Unlike regular attractions, the path and story of the adventure aren’t fixed. More »

  3. Never miss another show: Tourfilter is one of those innovative new business ideas that came about because a smart entrepreneur wanted to solve a personal problem. Founder Chris Marstall kept missing gigs by bands he liked, and needed an easy way to track concert listings. When he couldn’t find anything user-friendly or complete enough, he built his own service. The concept is simple: a user sets up a (free) account, picks his/her own city, and then enters all of the bands he or she would like to see in concert. Twice a day, Tourfilter’s software crawls through live music venue listings for each city. More »

  4. Background music for the web: Here’s an idea that was waiting to happen: Sonific provides ‘soundtracks for your digital life’, allowing users to select tracks from the company’s library (which contains thousands songs by independent artists and from record labels whose music has been licensed for this purpose), and then create their own ‘SongSpots’. Naturally, users can also upload music they’ve created themselves. SongSpots are flash-objects that stream the selected music and that can be quickly pasted onto websites, blogs, social network profile pages, eBay auctions, etc. More »

  5. Haute design cineplex: Located in the south-east ’13ème’ district of Paris, MK2 Bibliothèque is a grand boutique cineplex. A USD 30 million branch of an 11 theatre chain, the MK2 Bibliothèque (so named for its proximity to the François Mitterrand National Library) features 14 screens, as well as cafes, restaurants, DVD shop, classical music boutique, bookstore, modern art gallery and even a DJ bar. It’s a miniature cultural city incased in a long, sleek, glass and steel structure, linking movie-going to other experiences. More »

  6. Retail approach to recording: Taiwanese Timestudio (Hua Shi Dai) offers studio recording sessions for everyone. Located in the busiest pedestrian areas in Taipei, Timestudio’s two mini-recording studios let consumers record a professional cd for around USD 30. The studio features a sound booth and a control room manned by a professional audio engineer. A glass wall facing the street means that the ‘artists’ can be seen by passing shoppers, adding an element of momentary fame. More »

  7. Downloading on the go: A world’s first, British UBC Media just announced a download service that will allow consumers to buy songs while listening to them on digital radio. UBC Media, a radio producer that also develops technology products and services for the broadcasting industry, will begin testing the service on Chrysalis Group’s Heart station, with plans for a full roll-out by December 2006. The digital music download (DMD) service is expected to generate GBP 95 million of turnover by 2012, with a profit of nearly 10 million. These estimates are based on the assumption that in six years 25 percent of mobile More »

  8. Pop-up drive-in movies: Hot on the tail of pop-up retail, comes pop-up entertainment. California-based MobMov is a drive-in movie system built into a car, that pops up at different locations every week. MobMov, which is short for mobile movie, was founded last year by Bryan Kennedy, a 25 year old web developer who wanted to create a guerilla drive-in for his friends. Before long, friends of friends joined in, and MobMov went public, with movie showings announced through mailing lists. More »

  9. Splice: social mixing and remixing: Splice. No it’s not an ice pop or an alcoholic beverage, it’s an online music publishing community that uses Creative Commons licensing to encourage users to share their creations. Splice gives anyone, anywhere the ability to collaborate on music using web-based tools. Users can upload or record sounds, make songs, and listen to and remix other users’ songs. The primary difference between Splice and everything that came before it, is that the mixing tools are built-in. The main tool is a sequencer combined with a ‘sound surfer’ that lets users choose from a library of samples, loops and beats. More »

  10. Prepaid downloads: In Turkey, online music store MuziPlay has forged itself a larger market by selling prepaid music cards. Much like prepaid telephone cards, ‘MuziKarts’ are available from newspaper stands and small shops. After activating a code on the card, customers can download and play mp3s using the company’s proprietary MuziPlayer. Cards are available in denominations of YTL 3, 5 and 10 (EUR 1.50, 2.50, 5.00/USD 1.95, 3.25, 6.50). Sounds like a winner for countries where the growth of broadband internet is outpacing adoption of credit cards. More »

We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas we spotted in 2006. Today – ten from the mobile and telecom industries.

  1. Phone for boomers & their parents: 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. More »

  2. Turning phone calls into phonecasts: Voice over IP isn’t just making phone calls cheaper. It’s also spawning innovative services that make calls smarter. Case in point: a new start-up called Pheeder, which allows users to communicate with groups of people simultaneously, with just one phone call. How it works: a registered member calls Pheeder, leaves a message, and hangs up. Seconds later, the message is delivered to a pre-selected group of friends, who can either reply to the message or forward it to their friends. More »

  3. User generated content meets profit sharing: Slowly but surely, established brands are climbing aboard the customer-made bandwagon, inviting consumers to co-create. But as our sister-site trendwatching.com predicted a while ago, true co-creation can only blossom if brands share revenues resulting from consumer generated content with those same consumers. Which is why we like Vodafone Netherlands’ new KijkMij TV (Look at Me TV) initiative, which not only involves customers uploading their funniest, sexiest or most informative (cameraphone) videos, but also pays these minipreneurs 10% of revenues generated when other customers download their video. More »

  4. Private yapping booth: Here’s a smart idea that could be turned into a global cottage industry: sound resistant cell phone booths. The Cell Zone, produced by Salemi Industries, can be placed in nightclubs, restaurants, libraries, on airports, train stations, at concerts, and all other places where a bit of peace and quiet is often hard to get. More »

  5. Start Mobile: OK, so we’re suckers for anything that claims to be a ‘world’s first’. Like San Francisco’s START MOBILE, a gallery selling art for cell phones. Part of the START SOMA gallery, the venture sells thousands of original works of new art from hundreds of established and underground artists, to be downloaded onto mobile phones. More »

  6. Audiobooks for phones: Bokilur is Swedish for book on phone. And the company offers exactly that: audiobooks for cellphones. To get started, customers download and install a piece of Java-based software, that’s compatible with over 40 phones (both 3G and GPRS). They can then use the software’s interface to browse available titles, and listen to two minutes of each book for free before deciding to download. More »

  7. Calling all mompreneurs: LiveOps enables clients to set up virtual call centers, connecting to agents that work from home. Made possible by availability of broadband internet access and affordable computers, the virtual set-up is spurred on by cost-conscious companies who would rather rely on independent contractors than hire full-time staff. Even better, since people who have the freedom and convenience of working from home are generally happier than those that have to commute to call center warehouses, they provide friendlier customer service and are better salespeople. More »

  8. Boomer tones: Just when you thought the ringtone craze had reached its peak, a new ringtone provider springs up and grabs your entrepreneurial attention. Although it also offers popular―some would say hackneyed―classics like Für Elise, Booseytones’ main attraction is its wide range of less overworked ringtones. Being the world’s largest publisher of classical music, Boosey & Hawkes can draw from an immense catalogue of music. More »

  9. Mms-ing local government: Love Lewisham involves residents in keeping the southeast borough of London clean. After installing special software on their cameraphone, observant townspeople can snap a picture of ‘offending graffiti’ or overflowing litter bins, enter location details, and send it to the local council. The picture is then posted on the council’s website, and cleaning crews are sent to resolve the issue. More »

  10. Shoot and know: Hardly a week goes by without another company unveiling a new service (often based on barcode or RFID scanners) to facilitate the interaction between people and physical objects. Still, Dutch ShotCodes has managed to take a original shot at this market with a visual approach that will appeal to consumers because, well, visuals always appeal to consumers. More »
We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas we spotted in 2006. Listed below are our ten favorites from the fashion and beauty business.
  1. Hubwear: Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask us for ideas that don’t require hundreds of thousands of dollars, euros or pounds to get started. Look no further than the burgeoning arena of t-shirts. Bearer of profiles, of lists, of any kind of self-expression really, the humble t-shirt continues to bestow riches on creative entrepreneurs, or at least guarantee some low-risk entrepreneurial fun. So here’s yet another cool t-shirt start up: Hubwear. Its t-shirts display a wearer’s favorite travel routes, in airport codes (think JFK, AMS, MIA, HKG and so on). More »

  2. Denim doctors: Jeans can now go into therapy. Yes, you heard that right — New York’s Denim Therapy restores, rejuvenates and injects life into worn-out, tattered jeans. Playing on the fact that many consumers have an emotional attachment to their jeans, the service repairs jeans with unwanted holes, denim that’s worn, tattered or just plain falling apart. Using a unique reconstructive technique, Denim Therapy places existing denim fabric into the jean to replace the holes. More »

  3. Mormor: Nostalgia. Design. Generation C. Storytelling. Knitting. Senior citizens and baby boomers. All these ‘trends’ beautifully come together in Danish Mormor.nu, an online store that sells baby and children’s wear from the time when grandma herself was a wee lass. (‘Mormor.nu’ is Danish for ‘Grandma.now’). In fact, the company’s employees stem from an era when everything was made by hand, the youngest employee being 68 years old. All products are handmade, from pure wool, alpaca wool or cotton. More »

  4. Culturally sensitive sportswear: Designing headscarves that can be worn for sports and play, Nike and Capsters are offering Muslim girls and women a practical alternative to the traditional hijab. Created by young Dutch designer Cindy van den Bremen, Capsters are sleek head coverings made from comfortable, stretchy fabrics, and come in a variety of styles to match different activities and sports look. More »

  5. Shoes for good: While traveling through Argentina, Blake Mycoskie came across canvas shoes that his feet took an instant liking to. He took the alpargatas–comfortable utility shoes that resemble espadrilles–reworked them a bit, and started TOMS Shoes. Not just casual chic slip-ons that were spotted all over L.A. this summer, TOMS Shoes give new meaning to ‘two for the price of one’. For each pair purchased (USD 38), TOMS gives a pair to a disadvantaged child in South America. More »

  6. Vending that kills the frizz: Born out of frustration from hearing their female friends complaining of frizzy hair, entreprenuers Richard Starrett and Neil Macka took it upon themselves to devise a solution. They came up with the Straight Up machine. Trading under the name Beautiful Vending Ltd, the two men realised there was a gap in the market, since English weather can turn perfectly styled hair to frizz, ruining a night out for women fixed on having pin-straight hair. More »

  7. Wearing your profile on your sleeve: Here’s something that captures the zeitgeist in a novel yet simple way: Canadian t-lists are t-shirts that list the owner’s top 5 for *anything*, from five worst movies or five most admired musicians, to five best products ever, or five things he or she will never eat. More »

  8. Niche-niche skincare: Created by UK native and long-time vegan Leesah B, and based in New Jersey, Inky Loves Nature produces products from community traded and traditionally extracted exotic butters and oils from Africa, biodynamic herbs, and other minimally processed plant based ingredients. Exclusively vegan and packaged in funky, eco-friendly and recyclable containers. With names like Warrior Queen Cleanser and Nappaliscious Nutritious Scalp Butter, the company wants its products to “call out to the culture-craving brown skinned urbanista.”More »

  9. Nail taxi: Regular readers of Springwise will know that we’re a big fan of mobile concepts; they’re easy for entrepreneurs to set up, and so very convenient for consumers. Quick spotting from the world of beauty: Nail Taxi, based in the greater Washington D.C. area, provides nail care at customers’ homes, offices, hotel suites, hospital rooms. They’ll send a professional nail technician wherever a manicure or pedicure is needed. More »

  10. Bold for bald: As a dedicated head-shaver, Abe Minkara tried every shaving product on the market, but none of them worked as well as he wanted. Discovering an underserved segment in the growing male grooming market, Minkara developed his own formula. His new company, Bold For Men, specializes in innovative skincare products for head-shaving men. More »

We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas we spotted in 2006. Up next: financial service ideas:
  1. Kiva: p2p micro lending: Kiva helps lenders provide (charitable) microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, offering a new, sponsor-a-business option for individuals to connect with small enterprises in developing countries through flexible loans. More »

  2. Facilitating kidpreneurs: Dutch Postbank, part of the ING Group, recently started a campaign aimed at budding entrepreneurs. Children who open an Easy Blue account receive a briefcase containing materials for printing their own t-shirts (aka bizznizz attire), stickers, letterhead, flyers, and business cards. More »

  3. Making it easy to chip in: ChipIn is an online tool that enables people to collect money for gifts or other group purchases. Like Fundable, which we wrote about last year, ChipIn automates the time-consuming task of organizing people to collect funds for a group purchase. More »

  4. Prosper, one and all: In March, we wrote about Prosper, the people-to-people money lending marketplace. Time for an update! Since its launch in February 2006, Prosper has signed up 100,000 memberships and has generated more than USD 20 million in loans. Prosper lets interested borrowers create a loan listing for up to USD 25,000. More »

  5. Ether: sell what you say: For minipreneurs with a service to sell, Ether provides an innovative and easy way to tap into new business. The idea is straightforward: the service provider signs up for a free Ether (1-888) number, which is forwarded to a phone number of his choice, be it cell, home or work. He then decides how much his time is worth, per hour per minute or per call. More »

  6. Greensurance: Touted as the UK’s first eco-friendly car insurance, Ecoinsurance offers customers a cleaner conscience and a greener planet, at no extra cost. Each vehicle insurance policy comes with carbon offsets for 20% of the customer’s car’s CO2 emissions, based on an average passenger car with average annual mileage. More »

  7. Ultra-personalized banking: Like My Postbank Cards, which we wrote about last year, Garanti Bank’s Flexi Cards allow customers to personalize the look of their bank cards. But Garanti takes the concept a bit further: customers can develop their own banking product. Flexi Cards are Visa cards that let the cardholder make a few key decisions, allowing them to set over ten parameters. More »

  8. Banking on women: Austria’s first bank for women was recently opened by Raiffeisen in the ski resort town of Gastein. The concept was developed in association with Emotion Banking, which conducted extensive studies about women and finances, and how they interact with banks. More »

  9. Prepaid computing: 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. More »

  10. Matching first-time homebuyers: Faced with rocketing real estate prices, first-time homebuyers have a new option in the UK: buying with a stranger they’ve found online. Shared Spaces is a ‘co-buyer network’, enabling potential buyers to join forces with others. More »
  1. Hailing a hybrid: The Toyota Prius, the world’s most popular hybrid car, emits half as much carbon dioxide as a traditional black cab does. This made it an obvious choice for greentomatocars, an environmentally friendly cab service in London that was launched on 1 March 2006 and was founded by two young ex-City lawyers. Hybrid cars have an electrical engine that takes over from the petrol engine when the car is moving slowly, which eliminates toxic fumes and noise. More »

  2. Consumer generated power: Until fairly recently, wind turbines were huge structures that were only available for commercial use in turbine parks or empty rural areas. No longer so. Consumers can now choose from various wind turbines for residential use. For GBP 25,000, consumers can purchase beautifully designed, ‘elegant’ wind power from Quiet Revolution. More »

  3. Household recycling plant: When discussing insperiences (the trend of bringing professional grade products and services into the domestic domain), one thinks of plush home cinemas and chef-worthy kitchens. An indoor recycling plant doesn’t immediately spring to mind. But that could change with the arrival of the Ecopod. Created in partnership with BMW DesignWorksUSA, Ecopod’s E1 Series is a household recycling center that aims to change the way consumers take out their trash. More »

  4. Green rentals: EV Rental Cars is the first US rental car company whose entire fleet consists of hybrid vehicles. The Los Angeles based firm doubled its fleet over the past two years, and now offers fuel-efficient wheels for rent in eight cities in the Western US through a partnership with Fox Rent A Car. More »

  5. Eco-chic entrepreneurs: Two stylish opportunities from the world of sustainable fashion: ECOIST Known as the candy wrapper handbags, Ecoist’s bags (USD 28-58) are made from misprinted or discontinued snack bags, soda labels and candy wrappers. A family business based in Miami, the company believes that consumers should be able to enjoy a modern lifestyle, buying their favourite things, while also doing good to the Earth. Material that would otherwise end up in landfills is folded into straps and woven into bags and clutches by Mexican artisans. More »

  6. Innovative olive farmers: 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. More »

  7. Retail approach to recycling: Whether ignorant or just plain lazy, plenty of consumers and businesses don’t make the effort to recycle electronics. Which is why Green Citizen’s drop-off center and pick-up service are great concepts – they make it convenient for people to recycle unused electronic equipment. In their own words: “we want to make recycling electronics so easy that you’ll make it a part of your everyday routine.” More »

  8. Carbon offsets by sms: World Land Trust, which was founded in 1989 to preserve the world’s most ecologically important and threatened lands, recently created a new way for concerned citizens to help the earth. The foundation now offers carbon offsets by sms/text message. Every time a consumer texts “WLT CARBON” to number 87050 (within the UK), World Land Trust will offset 140 kilograms of CO2 through its Carbon Balanced Program. More »

  9. Zen approach to cleaning industry: Looking to stand out in a lackluster industry? Learn from ZENhome Cleaning! This Brooklyn based home cleaning company, founded by a former model, changed hum-drum home cleaning into something special. The company only uses non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products, appealing both to ecologically aware consumers and people with allergies. More »

  10. Hot nightclub, minus global warming: Kicking off in Rotterdam’s Off_Corso on October 14th is the Sustainable Dance Club. The kick-off party will feature biological beer on tap and fair-trade clothing brand Kuyichi helping clubbers customize their clothes. The end concept will go much further. Enviu, an environmental NGO for young people, is working together with architectural firm Döll to create a truly sustainable nightclub. More »

We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas of 2006. Each day, we’ll feature our personal favorites. This batch highlights ten great new businesses focused on making their customers’ lives easier.
  1. Mom-to-be, no time free?: As long as our spotters send us spottings like Babyplanners, Springwise will never go out of business. This newborn London-based company has managed to find yet another niche-market waiting to be penetrated: young, hard-working parents-to-be, who are willing to shell out some dough to have others deal with the endless shopping, researching, conflicting advice and general stress and confusion that come with a first-time pregnancy. More »

  2. Summer storage for students: Dorm2Dorm was founded by college students, for college students. The service is simple: students order storage materials online, which are delivered a week before finals. Dorm2Dorm comes back a week later, when finals are out of the way, to pick up packed items and store them for the summer. More »

  3. Charge lockers: A ChargeBox is a set of lockers designed to charge batteries of phones and other mobile devices. Created by British Boxbrands, ChargeBoxes have six lockers with each locker containing four different chargers. The user picks the appropriate locker for their device, opens the door and attaches the device to a charger inside. More »

  4. Discount glasses online: Helping consumers see money left in their wallets, 23-year-old James Murray Wells has shaken the British prescription glasses industry. Managing director and co-owner of Glasses Direct, Murray Wells began his no-frills web store offering specs for as low as 10 percent of the price of many high street stores. More »

  5. Keeping track of kids & keys: The Loc8tor is a combination of radio-frequency emitting tags and a cellphone-sized signal decoder. Both tags and handheld transmit and receive radio signals. Each handheld device can monitor up to 24 tags, which can be attached to keys, kids, pets and anything else of value that has a tendency to get lost. More »

  6. Quick delivery e-commerce: In the San Francisco Bay area and Atlanta, two e-commerce companies are betting on the appeal of almost-instant delivery. More »

  7. Kids party in a box: Favouritz sells boxes filled with everything needed for an original and entertaining children’s party. Founded by Danish-Swiss Jeannette Domeisen, Favouritz targets the niche market of children’s’ birthday parties. More »

  8. Helping friends keep track: BillMonk is an online and mobile application that helps friends to keep track of how much money and which items they owe each other. More »

  9. Lost & found in the 21st century: Last year, we featured a few tech-savvy lost and found services that let consumers label their valuables and recover them if lost or stolen. A recent spotting came in from Singapore, where Bak2u offers various ways of securing expensive gadgets. More »

  10. Dating security: Secure Singles has developed a ‘personal emergency notification system’ for the dating world. A tool that singles can use to protect themselves, Secure Singles allows users to store information on the people they’re planning to meet. More »
We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas of 2006. Each day, we’ll feature our personal favorites from 20 industries we’ve tracked throughout the year.
  1. Niche parcel service: Every air traveler knows pocketknives and scissors won’t make it through airport security. Yet sometimes something sharp is accidentally left in a pocket. More »


  2. No frills chic, Indian style: Back in 2004, trendwatching.com wrote about IndiOne, a pilot for no-frills chic hotels in India. Now, the IndiOne in Bangalore has been renamed Ginger, and an ambitious roll-out for the new brand has been unveiled. More »

  3. Tribewanted: Launched by two young British entrepreneurs, tribewanted is creating a global tribe that will develop a sustainable eco-community on an island in Fiji. More »

  4. Minipreneur travel agents: Joining the customer made revolution, Belgium tour operator Wasteels has set up a division called Club Tours, which allows amateurs to create travel packages that are sold to the company’s customers. More »

  5. Buy room 387: Consumers becoming participants is one of the big evolving themes for 2006, so we thought it fitting to highlight UK based Guest Invest, who offer individuals the opportunity to own a fully managed, luxury London hotel room, from GBP 140.000 – 300.000 for a 999 year lease. More »

  6. Airport weddings: New at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: weddings to go. Whether a couple met on a flight to Bangkok or just wants to be able to go straight from ceremony to runway for their honeymoon, Schiphol offers travellers the opportunity to get married at the airport. More »

  7. Tripadvisor for gay travellers: Pink Choice is a review website for gay and lesbian travellers. The company was founded by the owners of two successful gay guesthouses in Massachusetts, who were frustrated by the lack of relevant information when planning their own holidays. More »

  8. Checking into another dimension: Announced last year as W Hotels’ new brand for the select-service hotel category, the first aloft hotel won’t open until 2008. So, what does a brand do to create some pre-opening buzz, and give future customers a taste of what’s to come? Build a virtual hotel in Second Life, of course. More »

  9. Digital fuel: Fuel for Travel lets consumers download travel guides, music, audio books, tv shows and movies to their MP3 players and other digital devices. More »

  10. Funky kiwi campers: Escape Rentals is a New Zealand camper rental company that sets itself apart by letting artists turn camper vans into art on wheels. More »

We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas of 2006. Each day, we’ll feature our personal favorites from 20 industries we’ve tracked throughout the year. First up: automotive. Enjoy!
  1. Driver’s education for customers: Maruti Udyog, India’s largest car manufacturer, has taken a matter-of-fact approach to broadening its customer base. Want more people to buy your cars? Teach them to drive! More »

  2. Five star hotel for cars: The Engine Room in Belgium not only offers secure and swanky warehouse storage for members’ automotive treasures, but now also offers car-sharing for an exclusive range of vehicles. More »

  3. The going is green (and electric): Designed in California and manufactured in India, GoinGreen’s G-Wiz electric cars are a hit in London, where the company has sold over 600 units, making London the electric car capital of the world. More »

  4. First car brand drives into Second Life: Scion became first automaker to run a campaign in Second Life, releasing virtual cars in the popular metaverse. More »

  5. Fractional supercar ownership: Offering “intelligent supercar ownership,” écurie25 is a club that gives members the right to drive fine automobiles for 30-40 days per year. More »

  6. Mobile exchange for parking spaces: SpotScout claims to be the world’s first mobile exchange marketplace for parking spots, connecting parking spaces with drivers that are desperately seeking them. Urban planners estimate that as much as 80 percent of traffic on some city streets comes from motorists aimlessly circling blocks in search of a place to park. More »

  7. Greener drivers ed: Drivers Ed Direct aims to revolutionize the drivers education industry, by getting rid of “old cars, dimly-lit sterile classrooms and out-of-touch instructors”. Not only have the old cars been replaced by brand new cars, they’ve been replaced by gas-electric hybrids: the school’s entire fleet is hybrid. More »

  8. Cabs for and by women: In London alone, 10 women are attacked each month after getting into an unlicensed mini-cab. No wonder that many women feel safer taking a taxi driven by a woman. Pink Ladies spotted a business opportunity, and created the UK’s first women-only private car hire franchise. More »

  9. MySpace for car lovers: MySpace, the social networking website, is home to more than 54 million people, most of whom are teenagers. And what MySpace has done for teens, CarSpace (launched February 2006), hopes to do for people who enjoy, love, obsess over cars. More »

  10. Auto shops by the hour: Plenty of consumers around the world enjoy tinkering with their cars, preferably surrounded by professional looking tools and equipment, in a state- of the art garage/auto shop. More »

2006 is turning out to be the year of the luxury lavatory – our August coverage of a chic Parisian sanitary stop was followed by last month’s arrival of Charmin‘s public restrooms in Times Square, and now London joins the game, with a new public powder room opening its doors at 439 – 441 Oxford Street (opposite Selfridges). The big difference with its siblings in Paris and New York, is that this one is for women only. The five-star facilities, WC1, are more than just restrooms. For GBP 5, stressed out shoppers and women on their way from meeting to meeting, or work to date can relax, revive and be pampered. WC1 provides hair dryers, straightening irons, toiletries and cubicles that are roomy enough to change clothes in. Loos are sterilised and hygienically sealed after each visit. A large circular powder-room offers space and good lighting for touching up hair and make-up, and attendants are on hand to sell ‘rescue products’, from nylons and sewing kits to make-up and toothbrushes. For an extra fee, customers can book neck and shoulder massages in a treatment room. With crystal chandeliers, stone floors, dark wood, fresh flowers and carefully calibrated lighting, the entire ambiance conveys luxury and spa-glamour, reflecting the fact that WC1 spent GBP 1 million+ creating the ultimate boutique powder room. The Oxford Street outlet is the starting point for what is planned to be the first chain of branded women’s facilities in the world. WC1’s business strategy is to roll out a franchise network (67% franchise and 33% company owned), with two more outlets opening in Q1 2007, and a further 7 by the end of 2008. Time to send them an email if you’re interested in setting up your own high-end haven.