Create the Future. Today

Weddings are an expensive business: venues, caterers and entertainers all tend to bump up the price as soon as they find out it’s someone’s big day, so it is no wonder couples have often looked to untraditional sources for low-cost alternatives. From Virginia, Tiny Chapel Weddings is one such option. The Tiny Chapel is a mobile wedding venue for those who prefer affordable intimacy and romance to costly grandeur.

The 100 square-foot Tiny Chapel was built and decorated by retired minister Bil Malbon, who now performs non-denominational weddings full time from his mobile wedding chapel. The venue is perfect for those with monetary or time constraints, or for less extravagant affairs such as vow renewals. The chapel can host up to 25 people and includes a small area for the bride’s pre-ceremony preparations.

tinychapel1

Soon-to-be newlyweds can hire the chapel for as little as USD 100, which buys them an off-peak wedding package including a 30 minute time slot for the ceremony and photos at the chapel’s permanent location in Richmond, Virginia. Alternatively they can splash out and pay USD 500 for a peak one hour time slot at a location of their choice within one hour of Richmond. The Tiny Chapel also offers a military discount to brides or grooms on active duty.

Are there other traditionally large celebrations which could be scaled down in this way to cater for more intimate wants and needs?

The average email is opened by only 22.87 percent of its recipients, and the click rate is even lower at 3.26 percent. Large online retailers such as Amazon and eBay have advanced targeting tools to help them improve their email-based customer engagement and now Pushmarket will give small e-commerce businesses access to the same tools. The platform enables small retailers to produce highly personalized customer emails which take into account search data and previous website and email interactions on top of their purchase history.

pushmarket1

Pushmarket is a marketing platform which analyses customer data and produces customized product emails for individual customers: helping retailers promote the right products to the right people. To begin, online retail businesses sign up to the platform and connect their account to their email provider and eCommerce platform. Pushmarket creates individualized emails, each containing the most relevant products and offers for each customer based on their website and email behaviour. The content can include new and trending products, cross sell opportunities, cart abandonment, promotions and more. Emails are automated to target customers at the right time: the platform uses advanced algorithms which analyze customer’s buying signals as well as their purchases. Pushmarket also provide a marketing expert who delivers weekly reports on performance.

cap

Prices start at USD 50 per month for 500 customers. Are there other ways to make analytics and marketing tools available to smaller companies?

Attempting to fill in the gaps between progress reports, BetterWorks is a performance tracking platform which enables enterprises to track their entire team in realtime using a smartphone app — soon also to be available on the Apple watch.

Creator Kris Duggan likens the service to a FitBit for work: instead of fitness goals, the platform is used to monitor work goals, created by the team themselves and their employers. To begin, a company will agree on specific goals for every employee and input them to the app’s dashboard — which creates dynamic, responsive visuals to engage employees. Then, users — both managers and workers — can track their own and everyone else’s progress from their own device or desktop.

BetterWorks encourages greater degrees of transparency and interaction among the workforce: users are encouraged to utilize the social aspects of the platform, virtually ‘nudging’ and ‘cheering’ co-workers depending on their performance. Are there other ways of using quanitified data to improve teamwork and goal achievement in the workplace?

More than 50 years have passed since the Equal Pay Act of 1963 declared that workers in equivalent roles should be paid the same wage, regardless of gender, yet recent statistics show that in 2014, US working women were earning just 78 percent of the US men’s median earnings. In Pennsylvania the gap is even larger — at 76 percent. In response, artist and entrepreneur Elana Schlenker has opened a ‘pay what you’re paid’ pop up shop in Pittsburgh called 76<100, which aims to draw attention to the gender gap by charging female customers 76 percent of the retail price, mirroring the inequality of earnings.

76<100 is the first installation of Schlenker's travelling Less than 100 project. The temporary store will be selling ceramics, textiles, publications, art prints and other work created by women artists and makers until the end of April, after which the project will move to New Orleans, Louisiana. The second store will be called 66<100 and charge women 66 percent: female Louisianians are paid on average 66 percent what men are. All sales from the project go directly to the artists and there are also a number of events and workshops occurring in the shop throughout the month.

lessthan1001

Whether or not Less Than 100 succeeds as a retail enterprise, the store has certainly raised awareness and provoked discussion in a way that a page of statistics rarely does. Are there other commercial projects which could help draw attention to the inequalities that are so often ignored?

Experimental product designers have done a lot to renegotiate flat pack furniture’s reputation as a inconvenient necessity in recent years. We have seen various lines of furniture such as Modos and MAGfurniture which can be put together without tools or confusing user manuals. Now, a collaborative project between MIT Self Assembly Lab and Wood-Skin has yielded the Programmable Table — a piece of reconfigurable furniture which transforms effortlessly between conditions: from shippable flat pack to fully functioning table without any human or machine assembly.

mittable1

The Programmable Table begins its life as a flat hexagon, which can be transported and stored easily. The product is made of a combination of wooden panels and ‘programmed’ fabric muscles: when it is removed from the box, one small tug will cause the muscles to pull the table into shape. Once upright, the table’s structure supports itself and can hold up to 220lbs of weight.

A prototype of the Programmable Table was presented at the Salone Del Mobile furniture fair in Milan earlier this month and could soon be a commercial product or even the first of a small line of self-assembling furniture. What other products could make use of this design technology?

Those with charitable inclinations but limited funds can now support their favorite causes without spending their own money via a new mobile app called Tinbox. The Paris based start-up enables users to donate EUR 1 to a charity of their choice for free. The donations, which can be made once a day, are financed by one of the sponsor companies the start-up is working with — who in turn ensure that their charitable deeds don’t go unnoticed.

Tinbox enables companies to communicate their charitable work with the public: in particular to the socially conscious 18-30 demographic who are strongly concerned about companies’ contributions to society. Each day, the app prompts Tinbox members to browse a selection of causes. The user chooses which cause they wish to support and what area of the project they want their allotted EUR 1 to go towards. Then, when they make their donation, the logo of the company that sponsored it appears on their screen.

Tinbox acts as matchmaker between charities, donors and the public, helping companies maintain a positive public image and helping important causes receive the funding they need. Tinbox is not only a social enterprise: it is free to use for app users and charities but companies are charged a small fee on top of their donations. Are there other ways that companies could involve their customers in their charitable deeds?

Smart devices have transformed family dinners from a time to connect with loved ones into a feast of technology, much to the despair of parents. That is the basis of the latest marketing campaign from Dolmio in Australia. The pasta sauce brand has created the Dolmio Pepper Hacker — a technology off-switch hidden inside a pepper grinder, which enables Australian mums to covertly shut off all technology for 30 minutes.

Created with the help of marketing agencies Clemenger BBDO Sydney, Pollen, Starcom and Ogilvy PR, Dolmio provided a number of homes with the Pepper Hacker and secretly filmed the result. User’s simply twist the device as usual, seasoning their food and switching off any electrical products connected to the mains in the process, as well as smartphones connected to the AirWatch app — a management app that can remotely lock a device.

cap

We have seen a number of innovations designed to encourage people to put their tech away when they should be concentrating on something else — such as Pocket Points, which rewards college students for ignoring their iPhones during class. Perhaps a similar device to the pepper grinder could be used in such scenarios to remove the temptation of the screen altogether?

The proliferation of digital music sources has now completely disrupted the music industry, causing artists, labels and businesses worldwide to search out alternative business models, such as crowdfunding. Mutrs is the latest of these: a combination of NASDAQ and Napster, the platform enables independent musicians to sell shares in their music via a digital exchange market, helping them to earn money in a new, playful, interactive way.

Indie artists and labels are invited to create a profile for their musical output and share audio and video files via the site. When they release a new IMO — initial music offering — it comes with a set amount of associated shares, each valued at a base rate. Consumers are encouraged to become investors — called ‘fansters’. When they find a band or track they like, rather than simply buying the music file as a download they purchase shares in the product, which they can later trade in the MIME — Mutrs Independent Music Exhange — where their value will fluctuate depending on interest from other users.

Fansters can preview all IMOs before investing and cash out their investments anytime. Mutrs take a 10 percent fee for each listing. We saw a similar model recently with the Tradiio app — which enabled users to virtually invest in emerging talent and rewarded them with real-life prizes, but Mutrs takes the system much further by trading in the virtual coins for real money. Are there other ways to add more value to digital music files?

With an abundance of healthy eating advice and a seemingly endless stream of diet fads to choose from, consumers can be forgiven for finding themselves a little bewildered about what is and isn’t actually ‘good’ for them. Hoping to end the confusion, Almond is a platform which provides users with one-to-one, personalized guidance from nutrition experts via video chats and an app-based customized nutrition plan.

To begin, users sign up for an introductory one-to-one video nutrition coaching session: Almond matches them with a qualified dietician for a 30 minute consultation via smartphone, tablet or desktop. The dietician will then design a personalized nutrition plan for them based on their health goals, lifestyle, medical history and food preferences. This includes weekly meal plans, customized recipes and suggested items at local eateries.

almond1

Almond suggest that customers have a total of four consultations, approximately every two weeks, and each session costs USD 65 — which is significantly lower than the USD 150 charged by other practitioners. Between sessions, users can track their progress using the Almond app, which helps them to stay on track and enables their nutrition expert to give them feedback on their progress.

How else could services provide personlised healthy lifestyle advice to consumers, to help them avoid feeling overwhelmed?

Two thirds of deforestation is driven by commercial agriculture and many of the everyday products from some of the world’s biggest companies — including Walmart and McDonalds — are produced using ingredients harvested on illegally deforested land. A growing number of these companies are committing to adjusting their supply chains to help halt the permanent damage to the global landscape, but it has so far been difficult to track whether or not these promises are being kept.

Supply Change is a new tool, created by non-profit groups including Forest Trends, which monitors the progress of businesses who have pledged to improve their sustainability – enabling companies and consumers alike to stay informed about their behaviors. The platform is a transformational resource which collates information about nearly 300 large businesses, detailing their commitment to sustainability in the areas of palm oil, soy, timber and pulp and cattle. Supply Change presents information obtained by Forest Trend’s Ecosystem Marketplace and international NGO CDP, including the outcomes of internal and external assessments and companies’ continuing progress. Since the site is currently in Beta there are many omissions and blank spaces and the project welcomes companies’ co-operation to complete the comprehensive database.

We have seen a number of other projects such as FRDM which aim to promote transparency in business by enabling consumers to easily research and interact with brands about unacceptable working practices. Are there other ways to contrast and compare businesses’ practices to encourage those who need to step up?