Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Last week we wrote about Fujitsu’s attempt to market technology to women with its Floral Kiss notebook. It seems something is in the air in Japan, as now auto manufacturer Honda has launched the Fit She’s model, which has been created to appeal to the female driver. Honda has highlighted a number of features that may attract female customers. Firstly, the windscreen blocks 99 percent of ultraviolet rays, which have been found to be bad for wrinkles. The air conditioning system also features ‘Plasmacluster’ climate control technology which the company claims helps improve the skin of passengers. The driver’s seat has its own heating and the manufacturers have paid particular attention to safety features. Although the model’s flagship color is pink – both the exterior and interiors use the shade as a predominant theme – the vehicle also comes in brown, white and black. The vehicle is priced between JPY 1,400,000 and JPY 1,575,600 and is currently only available in Japan. The Fit She’s features could of course appeal to many men, but marketing the car to women specifically could well reap rewards. What other additions could help women identify more with their vehicles? Festival organisers have already utilized RFID-enabled wristbands to make it easier for music lovers to update their online profiles on-the-go. Bringing this concept into everyday life, Italian jeans brand Replay has created its Social Denim range, which incorporates a device to enable wearers to instantly share their emotions or location. The jeans contain a fifth pocket made of vinyl, designed to hold a small Bluetooth transmitter, which can be coupled with the customer’s smartphone. They can then use the handy device to click one of eight mood buttons, ranging from positive to negative, or where they are at that moment. The device also sends notifications to the phone when it detects a nearby Replay Moment, where the customer can receive discounts or get a chance to connect with the brand. Due to be launched in December, the jeans will be available in regular-slim or skinny fit for men and skinny or baby boot fit for women at a price of between EUR 150 to EUR 199. Although the Social Denim range merely makes interacting with social networks slightly easier, it could be an indication of the digital direction clothes are headed towards. Are there other ways clothing could play a more integrated part in our hyper-connected society? Spotted by: Grietje Vermoortele The idea for The Farmery first came about when Ben Greene noticed something lacking from the agriculture industry. While there were plenty of farmers selling their produce through small enterprises, there was little to recommend their natural offerings over the glossy supermarket equivalents. Ben felt it was important to show the consumer the growing process and encourage their participation so that they could see exactly where their food was coming from and how it came into being. Ben’s background is an interesting one – after studying Sculpture at college he then went on to join the military and was deployed over to Iraq as part of the US invasion. He followed this with a Masters in Industrial Design where he initially developed The Farmery as his final thesis project. He now works as an industrial designer for a powersports company alongside developing The Farmery. We were keen to hear how the process from thesis idea to business is going for Ben.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I really believe the Farmery is a necessary solution for local food. I think being mission driven rather than profit driven is what kept me from being discouraged even when the odds seem like they are overwhelmingly against you.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Trying to tame mother nature.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I really believe the Farmery is a necessary solution for local food. I think being mission driven rather than profit driven is what kept me from being discouraged even when the odds seem like they are overwhelmingly against you.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think the ability to communicate ideas in a way that inspires people to rally behind you multiplies what you are able to accomplish.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Trying to tame mother nature.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I really believe the Farmery is a necessary solution for local food. I think being mission driven rather than profit driven is what kept me from being discouraged even when the odds seem like they are overwhelmingly against you.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on The Farmery?
There’s really not much time that’s not dedicated to the Farmery. But when I do have spare time, I like to design and prototype new products that have a future under the Farmery brand and can be produced with 3d printing, laser cutting, vacuum forming and other small scale manufacturing technologies. I also enjoy making art, typically some form of sculpture.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think the ability to communicate ideas in a way that inspires people to rally behind you multiplies what you are able to accomplish.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Trying to tame mother nature.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I really believe the Farmery is a necessary solution for local food. I think being mission driven rather than profit driven is what kept me from being discouraged even when the odds seem like they are overwhelmingly against you.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
7:00am- Wake up 7:30am- Deliver my produce from the prototype growing units to my retailers 9am- Go to my day job as a product designer at a design firm in Raleigh, NC. Noon- Take business calls and respond to emails on my lunch break. 5pm- Leave my product design job, head straight to the farm to work on my prototypes. Plant crops, inoculate mushrooms, prepare the next days order 8pm- Leave Farm 8:30pm- Typically some sort of business meeting 10pm- Work on website, emails, business plan, etc. 1:30am-Sleep
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on The Farmery?
There’s really not much time that’s not dedicated to the Farmery. But when I do have spare time, I like to design and prototype new products that have a future under the Farmery brand and can be produced with 3d printing, laser cutting, vacuum forming and other small scale manufacturing technologies. I also enjoy making art, typically some form of sculpture.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think the ability to communicate ideas in a way that inspires people to rally behind you multiplies what you are able to accomplish.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Trying to tame mother nature.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I really believe the Farmery is a necessary solution for local food. I think being mission driven rather than profit driven is what kept me from being discouraged even when the odds seem like they are overwhelmingly against you.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here.
1. Where did the idea for The Farmery come from?
When I was pursuing my Master’s of Industrial Design Degree I needed a thesis and I wanted to find an industry with very little industrial design influence to see if I could apply my skills to solve problems in the industry. Agriculture seemed to be a field with very few designers so I looked for opportunities to improve profitability. The biggest problem in farming I could identify was that farmers were so far away from the customer that they had little control over their own profitability. So I decided to combine the growing and retailing systems into one unit to make small scale, urban agriculture possible and scalable. After lots of research I came up with a system design that looked somewhat like the current iteration of the Farmery. After graduating I began prototyping with a shipping container and took it from there.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
7:00am- Wake up 7:30am- Deliver my produce from the prototype growing units to my retailers 9am- Go to my day job as a product designer at a design firm in Raleigh, NC. Noon- Take business calls and respond to emails on my lunch break. 5pm- Leave my product design job, head straight to the farm to work on my prototypes. Plant crops, inoculate mushrooms, prepare the next days order 8pm- Leave Farm 8:30pm- Typically some sort of business meeting 10pm- Work on website, emails, business plan, etc. 1:30am-Sleep
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on The Farmery?
There’s really not much time that’s not dedicated to the Farmery. But when I do have spare time, I like to design and prototype new products that have a future under the Farmery brand and can be produced with 3d printing, laser cutting, vacuum forming and other small scale manufacturing technologies. I also enjoy making art, typically some form of sculpture.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I think the ability to communicate ideas in a way that inspires people to rally behind you multiplies what you are able to accomplish.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Trying to tame mother nature.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I really believe the Farmery is a necessary solution for local food. I think being mission driven rather than profit driven is what kept me from being discouraged even when the odds seem like they are overwhelmingly against you.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think if I had taken the time to speak with more experts and pursued mentors then things would have gone much more smoothly. I’ve learned that experience is priceless and any chance to gain wisdom from someone else should always be sought after.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
In five years there will be three Farmery locations open. For the first five years, our expansion will depend largely on investors and our ability to secure capital. After the first three locations are going, we’ll be in good shape to continue our regional expansion.
9. If you weren’t working on The Farmery, what would you be doing?
I’d be looking for another large social problem that could be solved with my design background.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
I broke three vertebrae in my back last year and was very close to having to quit a year and a half ago.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Look for a net that can catch you if you fail and go for it with everything you have.
Thanks Ben!
You can read more about The Farmery here, or visit The Farmery website here. This is the second of five articles written by Springwise and brought to you by UPS. We often speak to startup founders who tell us that one of the most difficult aspects of starting a business is finding the time to do all the wide-ranging tasks that are required when getting a project off the ground. Founding a business often requires dexterous multi-tasking skills and the slimline nature of most new businesses means that is often the responsibility of one person to work on myriad aspects of a business – a jack of all trades approach. Time management is crucial in a working day where a to-do list can cover everything from finances to networking. Fred Caballero, founder of Startup Stay – a service that connects travelling entrepreneurs with like-minded hosts – has experienced the difficulty of working on several tasks at once. “It’s never easy. I wouldn’t say that “managing” is the difficult part but prioritising is what makes you stand out. In other words, not only understanding what and why goes first but also being OK with dumping tasks that won’t get done. Usually the problem is that you want to tackle everything and that’s already not possible. Hitting the wall is the only way (most of the time) to become better at juggling/dumping tasks.” It can also be tempting to focus on tasks that are easy to complete or quick, in order to get them out of the way. However, interviews with numerous successful startup founders suggests that it is preferable to prioritize tasks based on urgency. Robert Barmore, founder of ThermaHexx, says: “Prioritize the most critical items that will lead to sales and revenue, primarily, getting the word out so you get the orders in. You must work to re-focus as you get distracted by a million other things during the day.” There can also be a flipside to a business that is doing well. As much as every founder dreams of success with their business, it can also make it harder to prioritize tasks as there are always new targets to meet. Fred Caballero feels that founders needs to be ruthless when deciding which tasks are worthy of their full attention. “I’m still getting better at it [prioritizing work] and I’m far from being an expert but basically, anything that becomes a priority is something that helps us move forward towards the current goals. Anything else should be delegated or sent to the bin. Every level becomes more difficult because, besides whatever new goals you have, you must keep alive what you’ve built so far and that takes time too.” Running a business requires numerous skills in order to effectively address the many different tasks required in to day-to-day operations. It can be hard to foresee the breadth of jobs that a founder will be required to master in order to run a successful startup. As a result, time management can be one of the most important facets of a smoothly operating business. Allowing enough time to focus on trickier or less familiar jobs will mean that nothing falls by the wayside and free up time for focusing on future targets – surely the ideal way to structure your working day. Many toys have the dual purpose of entertaining kids as well as helping them learn, such as GoldieBlox – the book and building block kit that aims to teach girls about engineering. However, our latest spotting – Dough Globe – puts kids to work fermenting sourdough in the guise of a game. To create sourdough, the ingredients need to react with fermenting yeast and be regularly folded over several days. Aiming to get kids involved, the Dough Globe is a Tamagotchi-like game where children have to look after their lump of dough. To begin, flour and water are placed inside the plastic ball. The device has a built-in accelerometer, which detects whether it is being turned, and can communicate with a computer. Online, a dough-shaped character called Doug offers to play games that will help him complete his job of making tasty sourdough. If the child looks after their dough, Doug’s world will thrive; if they don’t, his world becomes too sour. Those who do well in the game — and therefore do well at creating a nice sourdough – are rewarded with recipes they can make with the end product. Created by Foundry, a research division of the UK arm of Mint Digital, the toy hopes to be entertaining for kids while also putting their efforts into the creation of a useful product. How else can the actions children perform during playtime be leveraged for something useful? The internet has helped charities benefit from a variety of ways to encourage donations – take France-based TousDonateurs as an example with its ad revenue fundraising model – but awareness and engagement can still be a challenge. Unhappy with the lack of coverage given to important humanitarian issues on mainstream media outlets, international aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières has created its own online channel, MSF.TV. MSF has been helping to provide medical aid to the needy in war-torn or disease-afflicted locations since its inception in 1971. The new channel hopes to keep viewers informed of its activities as well as feature news and programming that will raise awareness of crises currently ongoing. Created by the Australian branch of the organization, the channel is hosted on YouTube and is on air 24 hours a day, broadcasting both pre-recorded programs and live interviews with those working in the field. The feed can be viewed live, or individual programs can be watched again at any time. The site also hosts a TV guide to let viewers know screening times. The video below acts as a trailer for the channel: MSF.TV acts as a way to give donors more information on the charity’s activities as well as providing a news stream of current events that aren’t covered elsewhere. How else could charities and non-profits exploit new media to raise awareness of important issues and drive donations? A while ago we wrote about Herold, the Austrian directory service which delivers the country’s contact details to smartphones so users know who is calling. Harnessing social media data, CallApp is now embellishing this concept by displaying personalized relevant information about the caller. The app connects phone numbers to their corresponding social media profiles – if they are publicly available – and displays information on screen when a phonecall is made or received. A contact’s name, location, email, job details and photo can be pulled up and any online or mobile history connected to the caller is also displayed. For businesses, information such as maps, menus and reviews are also provided. The app offers tools to interact with the contact, from setting a reminder to organizing a meeting, which is incorporated into the displayed details. The app could be useful for both personal and business users, who wouldn’t have to spend time extracting information and allows them to determine how valuable the contact may be to them. The following video explains more about the app: CallApp places the most relevant available information about a caller in one place during the call, cutting out work for the recipient and increasing productivity. On top of this, the information is personalized depending on the history users have with each specific caller. How else can online information be usefully collated to help us learn more about each other? Spotted by: Murray Orange Wildlife collisions pose a serious threat to vehicles on the roads – not to mention the drivers and passengers inside them – but new technology from Austrian IPTE Schalk and Schalk OG aims to reduce that risk dramatically. Specifically, IPTE’s newly revamped DeerDeter system uses strobe lights and sound to keep deer off the road while vehicles pass. The result of extensive long-term testing in Austria and the United States, DeerDeter is a solar-powered roadside system by which an audible alarm and flashing lights are triggered when an oncoming vehicle approaches, starting from a distance of 200m; the vehicle’s headlights set the system off. The combination of those warning signals – which mimic the cry of a wounded animal and the reflected glare of a predator, according to Wired – make deer pause as the vehicle passes, minimizing the likelihood of any collision. The DeerDeter system can also be configured to incorporate a MESH communications system, allowing a link to a central location via a gateway through the cell-phone network. By virtue of that connection, units at the far end of the deployed system can detect approaching vehicles and activate units further down the roadway even before they sense the oncoming headlights themselves. Either way, once the vehicle is gone, deer and other wildlife are free to cross the road as they would have otherwise. Some 10,000 weatherproof DeerDeter units have been deployed and tested in the US and Europe over the past five years, demonstrating a decrease in animal-vehicle collisions of 70-90 percent, or even 100 percent in some cases, IPTE says. Transportation entrepreneurs: one to incorporate on the highways and byways in your area? Spotted by: Tracy Chong We’ve already seen Ikea-style flatpack wooden boats courtesy of The Balmain Boat Company, enabling daytrippers to build a working vessel. Now we’ve come across the Ar Vag by design student Thibault Penven – a DIY canoe that can be packed away after using. Created as part of his degree at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne in Switzerland, Penven’s design is built out of lightweight waterproof material and rigid board panels. Users can simply unfold the boat and insert metal poles to give the vessel its shape, much like a tent. A wooden slat supports the sides and also acts as a seat. Once the boat is finished with, it can be packed away and fitted into the trunk of a small car. The video below shows the device in action: Although the boat was created as part of an educational program, it is easy to see how the design fills a niche in the outdoors market, requiring little investment and effort for daytrippers. Are there any other products that could be reimagined to make them more portable? Spotted by: Judy McRae The news medium has undergone radical transformation in recent years, bringing us a world where headlines can be delivered via personal ticker or on the paper sleeves that accompany take-out coffee, to name just two examples. The latest spotting? Circa, a new iPhone app that serves up news in a format customized specifically for mobile phones. The proportion of consumers who get their news by phone continues to increase, but most content is still presented in a way that makes it difficult to read on the diminutive devices, according to San Francisco-based Circa 1605, maker of the new Circa app. Conversely, “news without the fluff, filler, or commentary,” is how Circa 1605 describes its free new app, which is now available in Apple’s App Store. “Circa’s editors gather top stories and break them down to their essential points – facts, quotes, photos, and more, formatted specifically for the phone.” Rather than forcing existing content into this new medium, in other words, Circa has created what it calls “the first born-on-mobile news experience” in which content is delivered in a format native to mobile devices and with an experience intuitive to mobile users. Among the features included in the new software are a way for users to “catch up quick” along with the ability to follow stories and to share points and stories via Facebook and Twitter. The video below explains the premise in more detail: The shake-up in the news industry has been going on for years, of course, but it’s a safe bet it’s not over yet. Journalism entrepreneurs: one to get involved in? Spotted by Murtaza Patel