Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Last month we saw the launch of a shopping mall designed for men in Prague, and next to champion male-specific innovations are Danish designers MAIK who have created the Bike Crate, billed as the bicycle basket for men. MAIK do not wish to be labelled a company or a brand, but instead “a catalyst for improvement”, aiming to identify common troubles, big or small, and to find creative solutions improve people’s lives. According to MAIK co-founder Andreas Sachse, “The bike crate is the first product giving men what women always had — a practical and stylish solution to the common transportation problems faced by the urban bicyclist.” They believe that, until now, bike bags and racks for male cyclists have not succeeded in ticking both aesthetic and functional boxes. Made from 100% recyclable materials, stainless steel and light-weight aluminum, the bike crate is spacious, sturdy, weatherproof, and designed to withstand everyday scrapes. It’s available in black, yellow and red and costs EUR 150 including VAT. The price also includes mounting, which can be done in-store, and for those not in the Copenhagen area crates can be shipped and materials for mounting are included. Along with the ongoing stream of products aimed specifically at women, it’s interesting to see the humble bicycle basket get a masculine makeover. What other everyday items can be reinvented for the modern man? Spotted by: Simon Lyngsø The power of crowdsourcing knows no bounds, as recent years’ spottings have demonstrated, and neither does consumers’ interest in earning some extra cash. Tapping a bit into both trends, Google’s new Prizes site lets users offer a set cash reward for help solving a specific problem or getting a task done. Now in beta, Prizes — which technically is offered through Google’s Slide division — is a place for consumers to create or enter contests focused on a particular task or challenge. Currently, contest creation is only by invitation, but examples of contests now listed on the site range from “Looking for best valued 2nd hand car” and “College grad needs help with resume” to “Creative name wanted for personalized ice cream flavor” and “Best poem about otters.” Along with each contest is a prize amount and a deadline for submissions; most prize amounts vary between USD 20 and USD 100. Visitors to the site, then, can enter any contests that catch their eye; they can also vote on entries already submitted. If the creator of a contest does not pick a winner, the entry with the most votes wins. When contests are won by people referred via Facebook or Twitter, meanwhile, the person who referred them earns 10 percent of the final prize. Companies and organizations have long been tapping the global brain for winning ideas, and there’s no reason why consumers shouldn’t do the same once the right platform is available. One to localize for your part of the world? Spotted by: Florent Lesauvage Only two weeks ago we reported the imminent opening of the first European Sample Central store in Budapest. We’re now seeing tryvertising harnessed within the digital realm by the new Indian based platform Sample&Try, which aims to assist consumers in towns and cities across India with decisionmaking before they purchase a product. Manufacturers provide Sample&Try with product samples which are then displayed on the platform and can be requested free of charge by consumers. Orders are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis, given that the platform has a limited number of samples. Products can be sampled from the following four categories: Food & Beverages, Health Care, Personal Care and Home Care. Once a product has been trialled customers can then provide feedback (though this is not obligatory) — such as a written review — and order new samples. There’s no secret that tryvertising is a compelling method of generating word of mouth around a product, while producing genuinely useful feedback for brands. The latest iteration in the form of online tryvertising may prove to be a less enticing proposition for consumers than a physical store filled with freebies. However, if they can be persuaded to participate, then the rewards will nonetheless be ripe for both brands and consumers. No end in sight to the gamification trend! We’ve already seen an element of gaming brought to consumers’ daily chores, public transport and recruiting — to name just a few examples — and recently we came across a new one. The spotting this time? Foodzy, a site that turns healthy eating into a game, with rewards for those who do it well. Amsterdam-based Foodzy aims to help users keep track of what they eat during the day and then reward healthy and fun eating habits with badges. Users check into the site periodically to register what they’ve eaten — Foodzy maintains a list of food products specific to the country they live in — and those who regularly eat vegetables, fruit or fish win special badges for their healthy eating habits. Foodzy hastens to point out, however, that its primary goal is not only health or weight loss. Rather, in recognition of the belief that the best diet is a varied and enjoyable one, the site also rewards eating cake on one’s birthday, for instance, or barbecuing multiple meals over the course of the summer. In any case, badges are awarded to reflect participants’ healthful and enjoyable eating choices, and users can view detailed statistics of what they’ve eaten over time. They can also compete against friends on the site. A mobile app is on the way, and in the future, Foodzy’s API may also offer the possibility of connecting the service to hardware devices like WIFI scales, Nike Plus or XBox Kinect for an even richer experience, the company says. In the meantime, using Foodzy is free with a Lite account, but the user’s food history is kept for only 30 days. Pro accounts, on the other hand, cost USD 15 per year in exchange for an unlimited food record, detailed insights into food statistics, more badges and the opportunity to start diet plans. The motivational challenges that face dieters have been the subject of many innovations over the years, and using the latest technology to incorporate gaming mechanics seems like a logical next step. Where can you apply these mechanics to get consumers fired up? Spotted by: Katharina Kieck Since we covered Square back in 2009, the credit-card-processing service for mobile phones has gone on to handle as much as USD 4 million in payments every day. No great surprise, then, that VeriFone last month upped the ante with its PAYware Mobile Enterprise for Tablets, a combination of hardware and software that enables retailers to use tablets for much the same purpose. Similar in many ways to its current PAYware Mobile offering for cell phones, VeriFone’s hardware component for tablets will encase devices such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab with a magnetic card reader, giving retailers a way to use the devices as store checkout systems. Compatible with PIN-based debit cards and NFC devices, the system is scheduled to begin tests this fall, with wider availability next year, according to an Electronista report. And whereas the Square device has been widely embraced by small and medium-sized businesses, VeriFone’s offering will reportedly offer integration for bigger stores that rely on older machines or code. So much of the business world has already moved into the mobile sphere, it’s only natural to see tablets brought into the fold as well. Retailers around the globe, one to try yourselves? Spotted by: Florent Lesauvage If niche travel tours can be created for those interested in current affairs, photography and even just sleeping in, then why not surfers as well? That, indeed, is exactly the premise behind Spain’s Surf Road Experience, which offers weeklong expeditions in a sleeper bus to search out the best local waves. Surfing is enjoying a fresh surge in popularity in Spain, so it’s no wonder Surf Road Experience is offering its surfing trips every week. The company has reportedly decked out eight British-style double-decker buses with beds, showers and all the amenities surfers might need, and every Monday new tours depart from the northwestern city of Vigo. A surfing instructor goes along on each trip, and up to 12 surfing enthusiasts aged 12 and up are equipped with surf boards for the week. Days, then, are spent touring the mainland coast in search of good waves and good times, with surf lessons provided along the way. Trips for novices and advanced surfers are available; pricing is EUR 445 for a six-day trip or EUR 190 for a weekend version. The video below illustrates the Surf Road Experience in action:
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There seems to be no end in sight to the niche travel possibilities, particularly when they can give participants some status skills and stories to show for the experience. Travel-minded entrepreneurs: Be inspired! Spotted by: Leticia Pérez Prieto Caine Ruckstuhl spent fifteen years working in sales and marketing before starting his own business with his wife Dora. TOLETTA bills its product as the world’s first premium brand of paper toilet seat covers, 20 percent larger and 42 percent thicker than competing alternatives. The product was first launched in September 2009, and since then the company has sold 40,000 packs through distribution in North America, Europe and Africa. After featuring in publications such as Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Vogue China, and Fashionista, Ottawa-based Caine and his wife continue to run the company, and after the success of the past few years they are aiming for further expansion.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years I see TOLETTA being sold in all the major retail chains throughout North America such as Loblaws (Canada), Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and ShopRite. I also see TOLETTA being sold as a mini franchise opportunity for vending machines. Who knows, maybe we will also sell our own line of toilet paper.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh gosh, so many things. One thing I would do differently is spending a lot less money on professional services like graphic designers, accountants and lawyers.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years I see TOLETTA being sold in all the major retail chains throughout North America such as Loblaws (Canada), Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and ShopRite. I also see TOLETTA being sold as a mini franchise opportunity for vending machines. Who knows, maybe we will also sell our own line of toilet paper.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
Making the money back from our initial investment.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh gosh, so many things. One thing I would do differently is spending a lot less money on professional services like graphic designers, accountants and lawyers.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years I see TOLETTA being sold in all the major retail chains throughout North America such as Loblaws (Canada), Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and ShopRite. I also see TOLETTA being sold as a mini franchise opportunity for vending machines. Who knows, maybe we will also sell our own line of toilet paper.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Amazing publicity, such as being featured on The Doctors TV show, that didn’t immediately translate into the sales we wanted.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
Making the money back from our initial investment.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh gosh, so many things. One thing I would do differently is spending a lot less money on professional services like graphic designers, accountants and lawyers.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years I see TOLETTA being sold in all the major retail chains throughout North America such as Loblaws (Canada), Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and ShopRite. I also see TOLETTA being sold as a mini franchise opportunity for vending machines. Who knows, maybe we will also sell our own line of toilet paper.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
My typical working day starts off with a coffee. I can’t get my brain to work without it. After a cup or two of coffee I check emails – typically 100+ per day. I then prioritize emails and tasks in A, B, C and organize my day accordingly. Most of my work is done at my home office and by email which can get a little boring at times. We outsource our warehouse services to another company which helps us streamline logistics and keep costs down from needing an office. Most of our clients are also overseas which means 98% of my communications are done via email. Gosh – I can’t wait to rent an office and hire staff so I can have real conversations with people!
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on TOLETTA?
Gym, cooking a dinner together with the wife, glass of red wine and watching Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
Keep your expenses to a minimum. Many entrepreneurs spend too much money on unnecessary things. Every business hits rough patches, and when you do you’d better have cash in the bank.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Amazing publicity, such as being featured on The Doctors TV show, that didn’t immediately translate into the sales we wanted.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
Making the money back from our initial investment.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh gosh, so many things. One thing I would do differently is spending a lot less money on professional services like graphic designers, accountants and lawyers.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years I see TOLETTA being sold in all the major retail chains throughout North America such as Loblaws (Canada), Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and ShopRite. I also see TOLETTA being sold as a mini franchise opportunity for vending machines. Who knows, maybe we will also sell our own line of toilet paper.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here.
1. Where did the idea for TOLETTA come from?
The idea for TOLETTA was born literally out of a frustration. My wife Dora and I were trying to find travel-size packs of disposable paper toilet seat covers to take with us on a trip. To our surprise they were very difficult to find and didn’t have attractive packaging or good quality tissues.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
My typical working day starts off with a coffee. I can’t get my brain to work without it. After a cup or two of coffee I check emails – typically 100+ per day. I then prioritize emails and tasks in A, B, C and organize my day accordingly. Most of my work is done at my home office and by email which can get a little boring at times. We outsource our warehouse services to another company which helps us streamline logistics and keep costs down from needing an office. Most of our clients are also overseas which means 98% of my communications are done via email. Gosh – I can’t wait to rent an office and hire staff so I can have real conversations with people!
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on TOLETTA?
Gym, cooking a dinner together with the wife, glass of red wine and watching Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
Keep your expenses to a minimum. Many entrepreneurs spend too much money on unnecessary things. Every business hits rough patches, and when you do you’d better have cash in the bank.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Amazing publicity, such as being featured on The Doctors TV show, that didn’t immediately translate into the sales we wanted.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
Making the money back from our initial investment.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh gosh, so many things. One thing I would do differently is spending a lot less money on professional services like graphic designers, accountants and lawyers.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years I see TOLETTA being sold in all the major retail chains throughout North America such as Loblaws (Canada), Shoppers Drug Mart (Canada), Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and ShopRite. I also see TOLETTA being sold as a mini franchise opportunity for vending machines. Who knows, maybe we will also sell our own line of toilet paper.
9. If you weren’t working on TOLETTA, what would you be doing?
I would sell marketing consulting services to other businesses needing help with their branding, website development, graphic design and public relations.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I watch America’s Next Top Model, play World of Warcraft and love cleaning my house, especially the bathroom.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with other and more successful entrepreneurs. Successful business owners rarely sugar coat the truth. Sometimes you need to hear the truth in order to change and become a better entrepreneur.
Thanks Caine!
You can read more about TOLETTA in our article here, or visit the TOLETTA website here. The virtual ink had barely dried on our story about the Skin Scan app for diagnosing melanoma when we received word of another, equally compelling mobile diagnostic tool. Focusing this time on the millions of people at risk from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, Lifelens is a project that has created a smartphone app to diagnose the insidious, mosquito-borne disease. More than one million people die each year from Malaria, and roughly 85 percent of them are children under the age of 5, the Lifelens project notes. The most prevalent diagnostic tool, meanwhile, is the rapid diagnostic test (RDT), which is known to be associated with a 60 percent incidence rate of false positive results. That, in turn, results in the treatment of many people who don’t actually have Malaria, driving up the costs of anti-Malaria treatment significantly. The Lifelens project, on the other hand, aims to make the process both cheaper and more accurate by analyzing blood digitally instead. Specifically, once blood is stained to reveal the Malaria parasites, the project’s smartphone app can analyze a magnified image of a drop of blood captured via simple finger prick, including counting the various types of cells it includes. Malarial parasites are among those it can identify, making false results much less likely. Once analysis is complete, data is uploaded to the Web, where it can be mapped for a high-level view of where Malaria outbreaks are occurring. The video below demonstrates Lifelens in action:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MunsqDCmdII
Melanoma and Malaria, of course, are just two of countless other afflictions that plague mankind. Mobile entrepreneurs: where else could smartphones be used to save lives? Spotted by: Katharina Kieck A couple of months ago we saw SNCF embracing the brand butler trend by offering creches for the children of daily commuters. Now the Isla Azul shopping center in Madrid have proved they understand “serving is the new selling” with their free full-board hotel service for plants, providing love and attention while owners are on vacation. The concept is the brainchild of experiential marketing agency Ogilvy Action. From 1st July to 31st August, travelers who are concerned about the welfare of their plants can take them to Hotel Para Plantas, a designated floor at Isla Azul where they will be looked after by a team professional botanists. All “guests” are given personal treatments tailored to suit their needs, including water, light, pruning, spraying and irrigation. There are even security cameras so customers can rest assured their pots aren’t neglected, and audio downloads available that stimulate plant growth and deter pests. On a functional level the campaign aims to drive more visitors to the shopping center by responding to a real problem, building a customer database, and creating positive PR and a service with longevity after the campaign ends. There is also an incentive to win EUR 500 worth of vouchers when shoppers register their details. Hotel Para Plantas sets Isla Azul apart from competitors and ticks the relevant, useful and pragmatic boxes; vital for instilling trust in consumers. How could you better serve your customers’ needs and keep them coming back for more? Spotted by: Leticia Pérez Prieto Recruitment processes can be long and inconvenient for both employer and candidate. Whether it’s trawling through piles of applications or organizing hectic diaries and travel arrangements to schedule interviews, California-based Ovia believe their video interviewing platform offers a solution. Ovia’s four stage recruitment process aims to save businesses time and money by helping them find the right candidate faster. Firstly, the interviewer records their questions and sets a specific time for candidates to answer each question. Videos are customizable, branded to suit individual businesses and can include promotional videos to give candidates more information about company culture. Next a branded email is sent to selected candidates who have the flexibility to record interview answers at a convenient time. However, they may only record answers once, meaning that employers can still see how candidates react to unexpected or difficult questions without preparation. Completed video responses are sent back to the company account and finally an integrated collaboration tool allows decision makers to view and comment on candidates without having to set up specific meetings or send videos back and forth. At no point does the interviewer need to cover expensive travel arrangements to transport candidates to their offices. Recognizing the global nature of candidate selection, the site is available in French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, with a free trial available for potential customers. With many new sites and apps focused on helping candidates find the right job, boss and salary Ovia are tapping into the needs of the employer. So what else could be done to make recruitment processes slicker, quicker and more personal? Spotted by: Katharina Kieck