Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

With the many items that can be customized today—from muesli to fabrics—the trend is still going strong. Case in point: Lip Balm Labz, a Canadian startup that lets consumers design their own lip balms. At the Lip Balm Labz store in Toronto’s Dufferin Mall, customers can pick and choose from more than 20 tantalizing flavors to be mixed in their lip balm, which is crafted from all-natural ingredients including beeswax, coconut oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. “Mixologists” at the ice cream stand-styled lab are clad in tie-dyed lab coats and dance to thumping music as they mix and pour the hot lip balm into the container of the customer’s choosing. Once it cools, customers walk away with a customized tube of lip balm, made exactly how they like it. A spin-off venture from the Rivendell Soap Factory, Lip Balm Labz also lets consumers order online. Pricing is CAD 2 per tube plus CAD 2 for shipping. Want to hop on board the customization train yourself? Then look around for options that include a bit of style but haven’t yet been claimed. One possibility we’d love to see: design-your-own toothbrushes! 🙂 Spotted by: Sheri Allain Regular Springwise readers may remember Lufthansa’s MySkyStatus service, which lets air travellers get flight status updates posted automatically to their Facebook or Twitter profiles. Offering a variation on the same theme, mobile application EezeeRator now gives users a simplified way to share real-time flight information and reviews via Android and iPhone. EezeeRator is a free travel companion from French Air Valid that allows passengers to post airline reviews while in flight. Travellers need only download the application—an Android version is available now, with iPhone software coming next month. With an on-board wifi connection, they can then use the application to search for airline and flight information, post reviews, and send messages, tweets and pictures in real-time from their phones. Preformatted message templates make it quick and easy to add text or photos and post; the resulting messages get sent both to Twitter and to Eezeer, Air Valid’s airline-focused social network with information sheets on 1,220 airlines, information and ratings for more than 47,000 flight numbers from 260 airlines, and some 120,000 reviews from 45,000 members. All messages are moderated by the EezeeRator team, and a GPS function confirms that users are where they say they are. The company blog explains: “The next time your flight attendant gives you the cold shoulder when you ask for an extra bag of pretzels, whip out your phone and tell everyone! These are the types of applications that will show which companies are taking care of their customers and which are hiding behind slick advertising.” Indeed, in addition to that much-needed dose of transparency for the airline industry, EezeeRator also gives passengers additional services including door-to-door luggage collection and delivery (thanks to First Luggage), and a way to purchase carbon offsets (through a partnership with JPMorgan Climate Care). All that and a heaping helping of nowism too! What is *your* brand doing to enable instant gratification for its customers…? We’ve seen one-of-a-kind jewelry created to replicate a wearer’s scar, as well as bracelets featuring a map of the New York City subway. Borrowing a bit of both concepts, Etsy designer triggerhappy offers two necklace designs that can be personalized to reflect the wearer’s story. Triggerhappy’s Narrative Cartography series features a tag made from recycled bits of silver and inscribed with the latitude and longitude coordinates of a location that’s significant for the wearer. Not only that, but a secret password comes with each one-of-a-kind necklace, inviting the wearer to share the story behind the location on an interactive Google Map. The Narrative Cartography necklace is priced at USD 36. Then there are Moon Shines, made-to-order sterling discs that reflect the moon phase on a particular date. Each 3/4-inch disc is fabricated in silver and then hammered and oxidized to indicate the lunar phase. Available on either a 16- or 18-inch chain, each USD 38 necklace also comes with a handmade card featuring an accurate picture. Moon Shines have been used to commemorate births, anniversaries and even a burial, triggerhappy says. Combining one part mapmania with two parts status stories—with perhaps a splash of off=on thrown in, to continue in our sister site’s lingo—triggerhappy’s necklaces offer not just personal decoration but a way for consumers to reveal to the world a little bit about what makes them unique. Makers of t-shirts, bags, and most any other publicly visible good: there’s a lesson in here for you! 😉 Since free information is abundant, finding a way to sell knowledge or monetize content can be a challenge. Los Angeles start-up Knowledge Genie aims to offer a solution, allowing users to centralize their knowledge on a particular topic and present it in a customizable, tutorial-style package—a ‘Knowledge Genie’—that can be shared for free or sold for a fee. Genies can be quickly set up through a wizard-style process which aids users in creating a learning-oriented structure, enabling them to break down their chosen subject matter into a series of steps and append downloadable resources and links. Creators can also build in checklists for learners to help keep tabs on their progress. One (ad-supported) Knowledge Genie can be created free, but if users want to sell it they’ll have to subscribe, with prices ranging from USD 5 per month for one Genie, to USD 99 per month for 20 Genies. Social sharing options and PayPal / Google Checkout payments are all integrated. There are of course other options for people to share their knowledge online, from eHow and Instructables to Wikipedia. For those who aren’t as active on the web or aren’t accustomed to putting their know-how into writing, tools like Knowledge Genie lower the barrier to entry, making it easy to assemble instructional information and sell it online. (Related: Sell what you sayPeer-to-peer ‘(un)classes’ match interest with passionLocal lessons, advertised and reviewed.) Spotted by: Sylvie Lafave Internet users can already send each other real-world gifts and letters without leaving the comfort of their online home. While such applications typically require a physical mailing address for the item’s destination, however, users of UK-based SendSocial can send packages with nothing more than the recipient’s email address or Twitter ID. To begin, users simply tell SendSocial the Twitter ID or email address of the friend they’d like to surprise with a package. SendSocial then sends a request to the intended recipient to get their approval. Only if that person agrees to accept the delivery does SendSocial get their address details; it does not, however, share that information with the person on the sending end. The sender, meanwhile, is notified that the mailing can proceed, and pays by debit or credit card. He or she can then print a barcoded—but address-free—mailing label to affix to the package, which gets collected and delivered within 5 working days by myHermes, SendSocial’s delivery partner. Pricing ranges from GBP 3.99 to GBP 7.99, depending on package size. Following its Twitter-based conception, SendSocial is now in beta. It’s currently available only within the UK; however, the company is working on expanding into other areas. Time to help foster some new OFF=ON connections in *your* neck of the social woods…? (Related: Buy a real beer for a Facebook friendReal candy for virtual friends.) BuyABeerCompany.com presents the most ambitious crowdsourcing effort yet: USD 300,000,000 for the Pabst Brewing Co. The 165-year-old firm, third-largest beer company in the US (going by 2008 sales), was originally sent to market by the IRS in 2000 as tax laws would not permit ownership by the non-profit Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation. Failure to meet the 2005 sales deadline saw it extended to 2010. With this deadline now imminent, two US ad agencies are ringing the bell for last orders from the beer-drinking crowd. Hollywood-based Forza Migliozzi and New York’s The Ad Store are the two firms behind the venture. They’re asking (legal-age) fans of Pabst’s 25 brands to pledge between USD 5 and 250,000 each towards acquisition of the company. Money will only be accepted if the full purchase amount is reached, at which point all contributors will get “a crowdsourced certificate of ownership as well as enough beer to match their pledge”. While BeerBankRoll promised the crowd control over the business plan for a pub and brewery, no crowdsourcing of decisions is mentioned on the BuyABeerCompany website (in fact, Pabst owns brands and outsources brewing to MillerCoors). Still, if figures on the website can be trusted the idea is going down like a cold beer on a sunny day—over USD 11 million has been raised. It could be that fans of the cheap-but-hip Pabst Blue Ribbon are just the crowd to go for community ownership, though whether 60 million will stump up five dollars each remains to be seen. Spotted by: Duncan Rickelton The list of reasons to avoid bottled water seems to grow longer every day. While much of the controversy so far has focused on plastic waste and BPA, Australian Half a Teaspoon wants the world to realize another simple fact: namely, that it takes at least 3 litres of water to make just one litre of bottled water. That’s the motivation behind both the creation and the name of 321 Water, a reusable water bottle with a built-in filtration system. Unlike the Hydros Bottle, which we featured last week, the 321 Water bottle uses a French press-style plunger mechanism with a built-in carbon block filter. Made from recyclable materials, the wide-mouthed bottle can be filled from any tap. Then, users simply push the plunger down to the bottom of the bottle, and the filter removes any chlorine, unpleasant tastes and odours in an instant, leaving the water ready to drink. The 500 mL, screw-top 321 Water bottle is dishwasher-safe and BPA-free; each replaceable filter lasts for 50 L, or 100 uses. The 321 Water bottle won the People’s Choice Award on ABC TV’s New Inventors series this summer. Introductory pricing on the bottle is AUD 32.10, but Half a Teaspoon needs 10,000 Australian orders before it can begin production; delivery is anticipated by the end of March 2010. One to partner with now to help make that happen…? (Related: Thirsty New Yorkers invited to refill their water bottles at cafés.) Spotted by: David Haddock Business models are at the core of what we write about every day here at Springwise, so we were naturally interested to see a new book launch on the topic recently. What’s particularly compelling about “Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers,” however, is that it was co-authored and independently published by no fewer than 470 practitioners of the model it espouses. The market for business and management books is a crowded one, to put it mildly, but it’s not often one sees a book created through the very innovation processes it recommends. Led by Swiss business model guru Alexander Osterwalder, however, a team of users of Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas methodology in 45 countries together created the 280-page book on business model design and innovation. Design was done by The Movement; co-creation took place via the online Business Model Hub community, and publication was partially financed through participants’ access fees to that community. Pre-sales through the Issuu-powered Business Model Generation website, meanwhile, helped finance the first print run. A 72-page pdf preview of Business Model Generation is available for free. Ultimately, the full book will be available through Amazon. In the meantime, however, it can be ordered directly at a price of EUR 43 in Europe, USD 62 in the US and Canada, or USD 96 everywhere else; shipping costs (which the book’s creators say will soon come down) are included. One to apply to the creation of *your* next big thing…? Spotted by: Simon Maurer For parents of young children, pediatric fevers are often the first harbinger of the next childhood illness to be endured. Aiming to make such fevers more obvious sooner, UK-based Babyglow offers an infant sleep suit that changes colour as the baby’s temperature rises. Babyglow’s registered products are designed and calibrated to change colour when the temperature of the wearer’s body rises above the normal body temperature of 37 degrees C. Specifically, the pink, blue or green suits turn white when baby has a fever, thereby enabling parents to act faster to prevent overheating. Soon to be available for babies from newborn to 18 months old, the sleep suits are colour-fast and machine-washable. They require no power source, and are tested by Bureau Veritas UK and Ireland. Pricing will be GBP 20 or about USD 33 per suit, according a report in Engadget. Babyglow is looking for distributors and agents to help it expand into international markets. One to bring to the legions of anxious parents near you…? Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann There’s little doubt that taking minutes at a meeting can satisfy the barest demands of posterity. Whether the resulting document can inspire any but the driest of subsequent conversations, however, is another matter entirely. Bigger Picture is a Danish company that aims to help make meetings, workshops and conferences more effective by capturing what transpires in them visually rather than with words. Specifically, the company’s graphic artists distill the business data, information, knowledge and ideas presented at a meeting and transform it into a powerful visual presentation. The resulting picture can be in various formats—both analogue and digital—and for various purposes, including summarization, presentations or dialogues. Either way, the result can increase the value of the time spent at such events, the company says. Bigger Picture includes Ikea, Novo Nordisk, Kraft and the World Wildlife Fund among its list of clients. It seems safe to say that companies and organizations will always be on the lookout for better ways to capitalize on the exchange of ideas that meetings are intended to enable. For graphic designers and other artistic entrepreneurs, meanwhile, this could be a promising new line of work. Spotted by: Lori Webb