Create the Future. Today

Real estate may be all about location, location, location, as the old saying goes, but most rental apartment listings offer very little information on that critical point. A new apartment search website called Hubbuzz hopes to fill that gap by giving rental-hunters a way to get a better feel for neighbourhoods and communities. While most apartment listings provide only the most minimal information about available properties, such as square footage, rent and amenities, the free—and ad-free—service from Colorado-based Collective Intuition lets apartment-hunters search not just by basic criteria but also on neighbourhood characteristics. ‘Eclectic,’ ‘trendy,’ ‘hometown vibe’ and ‘kid-friendly’ are among the adjectives users can select for their search, and the results serve up detailed neighbourhood profiles, photo galleries, interactive maps, events calendars and even user-generated neighbourhood blogs. Apartment managers pay Hubbuzz USD 375 for each rental that is made through the site, and Hubbuzz passes USD 100 of that on to the renter as a reward. The site currently serves Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Colorado Springs and Northern Colorado; Chicago, Phoenix, Orange County and Dallas are soon to be added. Hubbuzz is open to partnering arrangements, and the concept is ripe for application in virtually any urban area. Consumers can zero in on what they want more quickly and accurately, while rental managers get contacted only by more informed (and thus more likely to rent) prospects—it’s a win-win for everyone. Spotted by: Stacie Bogan Back in April, we covered an example of consumers using their collective power to get what they want (aka crowd clout). Tumpang, pronounced ‘toom’ as in ‘boom’ and ‘pung’ as in ‘rung’, enables group purchases by letting consumers pool their influence to demand bulk discounts, saving a total of USD 26,855 to date. Malaysian Tumpang now wants to become the world’s premier online bulk discount portal, and is launching its global site today. Like eBay, Tumpang facilitates peer-to-peer buying and selling, allowing anyone to collect interest for an item, place a bulk order with a manufacturer and resell to peers. Unlike eBay, buyers don’t compete with each other for a sale. Instead, they team up to grab a good bargain. As we mentioned before, helping (part-time) wholesalers secure buyers before ordering merchandise creates a low-risk form of alternative retail. One to watch as it expands! While there’s no shortage of premium juice brands, Wild Bunch & Co. still caught our eye with its ultra premium approach. The Singaporean company, which launched in January 2007, sells 100% organic juice in distinctive bottles and offers home delivery within Singapore. Aimed primarily at busy and affluent professionals, Wild Bunch sells a convenient, natural source of nutrition. Its seasonal menus feature a variety of pure and mixed fruit and vegetable juices, ranging from Easy Peazy (carrots, peas and parsnip) to Pineapple Zinger (pineapple and ginger). For SGD 300 (USD 195 / EUR 145) per month, customers get one 250 ml serving per day, made to order and delivered to their home or office, with bottles picked up for recycling. Wild Bunch is also actively targeting bars, restaurants, event planners and spas. Restaurants are given suggested food pairings: “Try serving our range of green juices such as Iron Maiden and Cabbage Savage with sushi or better still sashimi.” And spas and resorts can offer their customers a One Day Detox Menu by Wild Bunch, a selection of six juices aimed at flushing out toxins and boosting immunity. As we like to point out, everything can be upgraded, even if it’s been upgraded before. Just pick a niche, add a healthy dose of convenience, make it exclusive and price accordingly, and pay excessive attention to design and presentation. Need more inspiration from planet upgradia? Check out a few of the premium products and services we’ve covered in the past: supermarkets, public restrooms, an erotic boutique and chocolate. It’s no secret that one can save time, money and gas by doubling up on errands or swapping to-do’s with people in other locations to cut down on driving. But the prospect of divvying up tasks among friends, family and coworkers might seem like more trouble than it’s worth. That’s where Sherrands comes in—a new tool that links to-do lists of close friends and associates in a secure online environment to facilitate errand sharing. Here’s how this lifehack works: customers sign up for subscriptions and invite others to join. Users set up lists of other members they trust to run their errands—each user can have multiple lists. They then enter information about their errands, including information on mileage and time, which can be used to calculate how much gas and time users are saving using the site. Once an errand is entered, the user can assign it to one or more lists, and each member on that list is alerted via email. If the errand happens to be convenient to one of those members, he or she can accept it, and an email notification will let the person know. Sherrands also lets users create offers—alerting a list of members that you will be running to a particular part of town, for instance, and offering to help with errands in that area for anyone who needs it. During its current testing phase, the service is free, however Sherrands will begin charging for use once testing is complete. While its interface could be more appealing, the idea is promising. Sherrands offers a handy solution to coordinating what otherwise might take a tangled web of phone calls and individual emails, making it an efficient way to save time and spare the environment to boot. It could be an attractive concept for business owners, too, especially if adapted for project management purposes. Spotted by: Susanna Haynie We’ve covered alcoholic drinks for women before: beer from Germany (Karla) and Poland (Karmi), and wine from the Netherlands (Sophie & Sophie). Continuing the theme, Heineken is about to soft launch a sparkling cider brew for the fair sex. Christened Charli, the drink combines cider, barley malt and fruit flavours. Although barley malt is one of Heineken beer’s main ingredients, Charli is marketed to the 63% of women who, according to Heineken, don’t like its main product. The brew is also being presented as an alternative to white wine, the quality of which varies widely at Dutch bars. Charli contains 5% alcohol, has a fresh, fruity flavour and will be sold both bottled and on tap. Like its aforementioned sister sips, the drink is packaged in attractive bottles. Heineken has also gone one step further by creating a svelte and sexy tap for Charli, which should help draw attention to the new brand in bars. Charli will be trialled in 17 bars in Amsterdam and Deventer from this Friday until the end of October, followed by a nationwide launch next summer. For much, much more on marketing to women, check out trendwatching.com’s briefing on female fever. Washington, D.C.-based PaceTat offers on-skin advertising in the form of pacing guides. Pacing guides are used by runners in marathons and races to help them maintain the speed needed to finish a race within their goal time. Existing solutions include paper or plastic bracelets, which have a tendency to chafe and get in the way. PaceTat offers a comfortable and easy to read alternative: pacing guides transferred directly onto the skin of the forearm, like a temporary tattoo. What’s interesting for marketers is the branding opportunity: PaceTat offers custom branded versions for advertisers. Priced from USD 0.39 each, depending on order quantity, PaceTat’s pacing guides present marketers with a unique canvas for conveying a message that literally sticks with the consumer until it’s washed off. The company, which was founded earlier this year, has already sold over 30,000 branded pacing guides. (They picked a desirable audience, too. In the US, the running market is notable for its median household income of roughly USD 113,000, according to Runner’s World.) PaceTat isn’t currently offering franchising or partnering arrangements, but the concept should inspire advertising mavens to find other methods of ‘skinvertising’. As a marketer, you know you’re doing something right if consumers merge your brand with their own self-image. If they actually tattoo your logo directly onto their skin? Well, it doesn’t get much better than that. 😉 Related: Advertising after dark—branded nightclub hand stamps. Spotted by: Graham Henshaw Nobody likes to see an empty storefront. If you’re a passerby or a nearby shop owner, the bare dark space could signal a neighbourhood in decline. And if you own the building, it means lost rental income. The folks at Motomedia have devised a way to help compensate for lost rent while brightening up neighbourhoods in the process. The young British company’s so-called streetlevelBILLBOARDS can be fitted into otherwise empty display windows. True enough, shopping malls and other retail outlets worldwide have long placed ads in vacant store windows. But Motomedia products go a step further by incorporating technological eye-candy. The billboards are rear-projection screens presenting animated visuals complete with sound. Videos can commence when someone walks by the window. And because the billboards are Bluetooth-enabled, additional information from the advertiser can be transmitted to a viewer’s cell phone. Some units will also allow users to arrange and move blocks of information with their hands, the same way Apple iPhone users manipulate their phone’s display with the tips of their fingers. Since Motomedia can provide clients with a network of storefronts, advertisers can broadcast their message via a single window or create campaigns to reach entire neighbourhoods or regions. Plus, sensors that form part of the billboard package can capture demographic information and reportedly even sense whether those watching are women or men, customizing their interactive programming accordingly. So far, Motomedia has set up campaigns in various UK locations for advertising clients that include recording artists, and has been approached by international brands including Baileys and Captain Morgan. Future locations for the billboards needn’t be just vacant storefronts. Airports, train stations, sports arenas, even hospitals and health clubs could benefit from the displays’ interactivity, and their ability to target up-to-the-minute content to specific groups. If you’re in the media business, or would like to be, now’s the time to contact Motomedia about distribution rights. In 2008, Liverpool will be showcasing its cultural life as Europe’s Capital of Culture. While the city is spending GBP 3 billion on a ‘culture led transformation’, some believe Liverpool 08 would benefit from a community led alternative. Which prompted Mark Bowness, who previously founded crowdfunded ventures Tribe Wanted and vipbandmanager.com, to start the Liverpool Cultural Cafe. Bowness, a Merseyside native, explains: “After learning about the cultures of Fiji, after bringing employment and investment to that area, I became passionate about doing the same in my home city.” His latest project aims to get 25,000 people to pledge a donation of GBP 20. The pooled amount of GBP 500,000 will be used to launch a platform for local talent—musicians, comedians and other artists. A bistro by day and bar by night, the Liverpool Cultural Cafe will be staffed by 12 trainees from low opportunity backgrounds, who will be trained by local businesses. Liverpool Cultural Cafe’s 25,000 investors will be able to influence the venture’s development through an online community developed for the project. If the initiative doesn’t work out, not much is lost, since investors don’t hand over their twenty quid until 24,999 others have agreed to do the same. If it does work, this could be a model for other civic groups to follow to get ventures off the ground without relying on government subsidies. One to watch in 2008! There are close to 40 million runners in the United States alone, according to Running USA, and it’s a pretty safe bet than nearly all of them travel at least once in a while. When they do, City Running Tours can show them the sights while helping them get in their running time. City Running Tours was founded last year by Michael Gazaleh, a fitness enthusiast who wanted to share his love of running and passion for his native city with visitors to New York. Soon afterwards the company expanded to Chicago and Washington D.C. City Running Tours provides both set tours and customized runs for any schedule, ability, regimen or desired route. During the exercise, running guides share insights into local history, landmarks and other attractions. The cost is USD 60 for the first six miles, and USD 6 per mile after that. In addition to an entertaining workout—the very definition of experience as product—customers get a City Running Tours t-shirt and a souvenir photo. City Running Tours plans to start up in additional US locations soon, including a San Diego operation slated for debut next month, and is seeking individuals to partner with. Obviously, the concept is one that could be launched in cities across the world. After all, who wants to suffer through the hotel treadmill when they could take a brisk run in the city and see the sights at the same time? (Related: Workouts for body and mind.) Spotted by: Willem Bonneux A while back, we featured a theme park that focused on giving children a taste of various careers by putting them to work for a day. While Kidzania is firmly grounded in the realms of make-believe, elementary schoolers in Tokyo had a more realistic option this summer. For a few weeks in July and August, the Rihga Royal Hotel Tokyo ran a program for guests aged 3–12, employing them for a day. Children picked one of five different types of work: housekeeping, doorman, front desk, floor service and kitchen, with 72 different tasks to tackle. At the end of the day, the young staffers were allowed to choose their preferred form of remuneration: a gift certificate for books, or a passport for free ice cream every year. Rihga Royal’s informal work experience program was open to children accompanied by an adult staying at the hotel. For an extra JPY 24,150 (USD 210 / EUR 155), parents had the option of hiring a professional photographer to snap shots of their industrious offspring greeting guests or making an omelette. With dual aims of keeping children entertained and encouraging them to consider a future career in hospitality, this seems like a fun program for hotels, restaurants and other industries to try out for size. Just make sure to abide by locally applicable child labour laws 😉 (Related: Dream job holidays.) Spotted by: Mio Yamada