With same-sex marriage now legal in countries like Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada and South Africa, and many more countries accepting civil unions, domestic partnerships or registered partnerships, a whole new bridal industry is springing up to cater to the demands and wishes of gay and lesbian couples.
Spotted in Barcelona: BY, Europe’s first wedding shop for gay men. The venture was conceived as “an image atelier for fashion conscious individuals in search of alternatives to the conventional groom and ceremony suits.” Suits are tailor-made in Spanish workshops and priced from EUR 1,500–6,000. For an extra personal touch, they can be lined with fabric printed with a couple’s monogram, a photograph or a poem. Designers working for the boutique include Delgado Buil, Ion Fix, Juanjo Oliva, Locking Shocking and Helena Rohner. Besides clothes, BY also sells wedding rings and other accessories.
Smart concept to start up in cities with large gay communities, wherever same-sex marriage is legal. And don’t forget lesbian nuptials! For more examples of companies working to reap ‘pink profits’ check out our sister site trendwatching.com’s latest briefing.
Note: BY no longer seems to be active. If you know what happened to the company, please leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! And we still like the concept 🙂
Spotted by: Anna Codina
Why bother with a dozen roses when you can send your true love a dozen gooey, still-warm-from-the oven cookies? Customers in the Minneapolis area may be asking just that once they discover Tank Goodness—a micro-bakery run by a husband-and-wife team right out of their own kitchen. Having earned a reputation for almost always showing up with a plateful of cookies when visiting friends, family and neighbors, Anne and Dennis Tank decided to take a gamble on the cookie business—and they seem to be playing their hand quite well.
While the concept is not entirely new, Tank Goodness earns marks for exceptional execution and branding. Their signature oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are made from the finest ingredients, including fresh organic eggs, Ghirardelli chocolate chips, premium all-natural flour and butter from a local creamery. For USD 20, customers can order a dozen scrumptious treats to be delivered via the Tank Goodness Mini Cooper to a home or business in Minneapolis—surely a welcome indulgence at meetings, parties, or to lift the spirits of someone having a bad day.
Customers can place orders by phone or fax on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Tank Goodness will make every effort to deliver within one hour. Of course, this obviously limits the geographical area the business can serve—but leaves lots of room for fellow bakers to launch similar ventures in their own regions. The “city wide cookie empire” is sticking with its signature cookies for now, but may expand its offerings in the future. Since Tank Goodness already has the branding and recipes down, maybe they’ll consider a franchise. And are micro-bakeries the new micro-breweries? We’ve been spotting a lot of them recently. Related: Campus cookie calls, Chichi cupcake delivery and Pop-up bakery.
Spotted by: Anne Rogan
Acknowledging that travelling with infants can be a strain on both parents and children, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport just opened Schiphol Babycare Lounge by Nutricia. Located in the airport’s main departure terminal, the lounge is (as the name indicates) a co-branding effort by Schiphol and Nutricia, a Dutch baby food brand.
Designed by MV Architects, the lounge is serenely stylish and geared to ensuring a baby’s well-being while en route. The 90 m2 area features seven circular ‘cabins’, each of which can be closed off with sheer curtains to create a personal zone. The booths have comfortable circular seating curving around a crib. Lights in the lounge are dimmed for sleeping babies, with individual reading lights for parents. For infants that need a bit of distraction, each booth has a gadget that projects coloured lights on the ceiling, just above the crib. Other facilities include a changing area, baby baths and a microwave for heating food. Although Nutricia hasn’t stocked a pantry with samples of their own baby food, the brand does offer tips on baby nutrition and travelling with children. The space is open daily from 6 am to 10 pm, accessible free of charge to parents and children aged 0–3.
All in all, a well-executed example of what our sister site trendwatching.com calls a brand space: a place where consumers can try things out, work or relax, without being expected to buy a product or service while they’re there. In their baby lounge, Schiphol and Nutricia are accommodating consumers outside the home and offering them a temporary sanctuary when they need it most. When it comes to brand building, a little empathy goes a long way. For more on brand spaces, check out trendwatching.com’s briefing. It was published a while ago, but most of the insights and examples are still very relevant.
While it may not be at the forefront of even the most eco-driven minds, chewing gum is littering sidewalks, city centers, schools and other public places—and there are better uses for it than collecting on the bottoms of our favourite shoes, according to two new start-ups that are out to solve the gum littering problem. Canadian Envyrobubble and British Gummy Bins offer tidy collection bins for pedestrians to deposit their chewed out pieces of gum.
Envyrobubble’s colorful bins are designed for public spaces. Eye-catching designs in hot pink (err… bubblegum pink) stand out on busy sidewalks. Each holds up to 1,000 pieces of gum, which are collected by Envyrobubble and recycled into fertilizer. Gummy Bins come in two models—the Gummy Street, which can hold up to 500 pieces of gum, and the Gummy Club, which holds 250. Both models can be attached to street lanterns or walls and are available in a variety of gummy bear colors. The containers can be used indoors or out, though the smaller Gummy Club is more suitable for formal settings, can be branded with logos or promotional messages and is even available with an optional LCD screen. Gummy Bins has partnered with Hippo Waste, a leading UK recycling company that recycles gum into a rubber-like material that can be used in construction of drainage systems, running tracks and more.
The concept might seem a bit far-fetched, and we should be wary of more clutter in public spaces, but scraping gum off pavements costs money that could be spent on loftier goals. The cleaning process also requires harsh chemicals and lots of water, which is far from beneficial for the environment. One to add to your mix if you’re in recycling or city government. And shouldn’t Wrigleys, Chiclets and Bubblicious be lining up to sponsor the bins? Both Envyrobubble and Gummy Club are open to international distribution deals.
Websites: www.envyrobubble.com — www.gummybin.com
Spotted by: Danielle Schwartz
As people are stockpiling online friends and contacts through social networks, it makes sense to let them be as giving to their online friends as to their offline buddies. Online flower store Social Flowers spotted a business opportunity, and has created a way for consumers to send flowers to their Facebook friends without having to ask for their personal details. How it works? Users install the Social Flowers Facebook application, select a recipient from their friends list, pick a floral gift and pay. Social Flowers then sends the recipient an email and a Facebook notification requesting their address, and the flowers are delivered by one of 30,000 local florists in the US and Canada.
Social Flowers aims to extend its service to other social networks as soon as possible. Meanwhile, other retailers should jump on the potential for integrating all kinds of gift giving. A notification of a friend’s birthday on Facebook could be accompanied by a retailer’s special offer for sending chocolates, for example. Or Match.com suitors might want to send a bouquet to a virtual paramour. Books for contacts on LinkedIn, photo prints for Flickr friends, etc. One to pursue if you’re in online retail! Key points to keep in mind: ensure both parties’ personal information is safe and secure, and respect the community—don’t peddle your wares aggressively, just make it easy for consumers to show the same kind of appreciation for their online friends as they already do for people they know offline.
Spotted by: Ozgur Alaz
Pitching the next great idea to prospective business partners, investors, service providers and fellow entrepreneurs just got easier with Vator.tv—a new venture that combines online video and networking. Based on the proverbial elevator pitch—the notion that you should be able to sum up a new business venture in the few minutes it takes to ride an elevator—Vator.tv is an online marketplace for new ideas. “Anyone, across all industries, at any stage, can share ideas, products, services and businesses with the rest of the world, mainly through video.”
Here’s how it works: users sign up for a free account. They then create pitches for their ideas, projects or businesses in a rich media environment by uploading video, images, PPT or PDF files. They can choose to share their pitches with a personal network or with the entire Vator.tv community. Users build their networks by inviting friends to join or browsing through other ideas and connecting with like-minded people on the site. The website includes tips on creating compelling pitches, such as how to pack the most punch into a three-minute video clip.
Vator.tv’s revenue will likely stem from advertising and sponsorships. Launched in June 2007, Vator.tv has some big names behind it, including angel investors Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Richard Rosenblatt, former Chairman of MySpace, and Georges Harik, a former Google executive who helped build Google’s AdSense technology. What’s more, the company is already putting its money where it’s mouth is by hiring a Pakistani group of web developers who won the business through their very own video pitch. Another promising application of video technology in a Web 2.0 environment, Vator.tv is one for entrepreneurs and investors to keep their eyes on.
Spotted by: Bill McMahon
One more bike sharing initiative, this time with a corporate twist. An experiment in alternative transportation, exercise and community connections, Vancity—Canada’s largest credit union—kicked off their Bike Share program on June 27th by “releasing” 45 shiny red bicycles into the community. Recipients, who were also treated to an organic pancake breakfast, were requested to keep the bikes for no longer than three weeks before passing them on to someone else.
People who want to take part can post a blog entry at www.changeeverything.ca/vancity_bike_share requesting the use of a bike when another participant finishes their turn. If a bike needs repairs, it can be taken to any Vancity branch for a tune-up. On September 7, anyone in possession of one of the bikes is to return it to the Vancity Centre, where hopefully all will be accounted for. The bikes will be donated to PEDAL (Pedal Energy Development Alternatives), a local non-profit that will pass them on to individuals in low-income communities. Great PR for Vancity—giving back to the community and the environment make for positive brand recognition, especially if embedded in a ongoing conversation like Vancity’s Change Everything program. Business owners looking to boost their public persona may want to replicate this one in other cities.
Spotted by: Tuija Seipell
Now that car and bike sharing ventures are spreading across the globe, what’s next? In Amsterdam, a boat sharing concept just launched—Sloepdelen, which lets members share aluminium jolly boats/dinghies powered by electric motors.
So—how does sharing work when it comes to boats? It’s not that different from car or bike sharing. After signing up for EUR 25 per month or EUR 200 per season, members can reserve a boat online for a minimum of two hours between 10 am and 10 pm. Reservations are confirmed by SMS and email, with a unique code to open a key locker at the dock. Members grab their key, find their boat and off they go. If they’d like to extend their rental period, they can do so by SMS or phone, as long as the vessel hasn’t been reserved by another member. Rental fees are EUR 30-35 per hour, on top of monthly or seasonal membership fees, and are billed monthly.
Fun example of a startup catering to transumers—consumers who are more interested in using an object than owning it. Convenience is an important factor: Sloepdelen members don’t have to worry about insurance, winter storage or maintenance. The open-topped vessels are cleaned daily and use their nightly rest to recharge for the next day—a fully charged battery will run for 12 hours. Sloepdelen currently operates two docks in Amsterdam, one in Zeeburg and one in Westerpark. Both docks have room for 10 boats and are fitted for self-service by members, although staff members are present for part of the day. The company is hoping to expand to other cities next year. One to set up as a franchise in other countries?
Easing the blow of the UK ban on smoking in public spaces that came into effect on July 1st, TankBooks is selling books packaged like cigarettes—right down to the cellophane wrapping on the outside and silver foil on the inside. Despite their diminutive size, the first series of TankBooks aren’t the intellectual equivalent of Menthol Lights. Pitched as ‘tales to take your breath away’, the box-packed reads range from Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” to Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”. While perhaps not tempting enough for every smoker to kick the habit and take up reading instead, it’s a start.
TankBooks are the brain child of Tank, a British think tank, creative agency and publishing unit. Clever way to profit from a current event (the smoking ban), using great design to repackage classic works that are in the public domain, freeing TankBooks from having to pay royalties. To take the concept to the hilt, TankBooks obviously need to be sold from cigarette vending machines. Which reminds us of a venture we covered back in 2003—Art-o-mats, the repurposed vintage vending machines selling small pieces of art. Adding pack-sized books to the mix should be a no-brainer for publishers and vending machine aficionados.
Spotted by: Elizabeth Wu
By way of a friendly search engine, Buyersvine connects consumers directly with wineries. The startup’s mission is to offer consumers lower prices and vineyards higher margins. By dragging and dropping a selection of predefined tags from categories such as colour, type, character, price, food pairing, interaction and recipient, users can look for a wine that’s a perfect fit. A red that goes well with baseball, or a USD 40-50 bottle for a first cousin. (Yes, the tagging is that specific.) For ongoing wine searches, like USD 10-20 dry whites from California or Oregon, users can subscribe to an RSS feed to keep track of new wines that fit their request. Buyersvine links directly to vineyards, which handle sales and shipping. Still in beta, Buyersvine isn’t currently charging wineries for lead generation or listing. The website is a sister venture to Synapse Wine, which provides web-based applications for managing small to medium size vineyards.
Another fledgling player in the wine search market is Snooth, also in beta. Snooth’s database is far more extensive and its search engine more sophisticated. But unlike Buyersvine, Snooth works with large wine retailers like Wine.com and Vinfolio instead of small vineyards. Buyersvine’s key selling point is helping consumers find and buy wines directly from boutique vintners that they wouldn’t find on their own. Which makes it a very useful marketing tool for small sellers. The Seattle-based company mainly features US vineyards. Makes sense, since international shipping costs would make ordering small lots of wine directly from vineyards in France or Australia prohibitively expensive. Time to set up something similar for wine buyers and sellers on other continents? Keeping it local or regional will definitely add to the cachet.
Spotted by: Amy Leung