Innovation in business is essential these days because it drives change. In this tech-driven universe, the status quo is fading, if not dead. That’s why a London-based company, Springwise, introduced its website (www.springwise.com) devoted to finding unusual and original business ideas. In fact, it collaborates with 15,000 spotters and trendsetters globally to search their local environments for breakthrough ideas for readers to learn about or invest in.
The site is organized into the following themes: About, Home, Newsletter, Database, and Submit. It offers readers special benefits if they become members of Springwise Access.
Descriptions of innovative start-ups form the crux of the site. The write-ups tend to be short, about a page, summarizing what the business does, who runs it, and its genesis. The write-ups are straightforward, and they don’t include numbers of how much was necessary to launch and how much capital is needed to grow.
Here is an example: Commuters in the Czech Republic are drinking coffee at a pop-up cart that leads to making a connection for dating. This innovative coffee cart run by Ropki specializes in serving singles who write a profile and then meet over a cup of coffee at its Matchmakers Cafe. It’s like Starbucks meets Match.com and has been tested in New York.
Another example is the car-sharing company WeGo, based in the Netherlands. It enables company cars to be loaned out to other people not associated with the company. The result is firms can generate cash and establish goodwill with potential customers.
Unearthing new business ideas is Springwise’s reason for being. Many people know about the website Warby Parker (www.warbyparker.com), which produces eyeglasses that keep costs down. However, Springwise posted a profile of Protos Eyewear, which offers customized 3D eyeglasses for consumers based on their sending photographs of themselves to Protos. At the outset, it is only selling eyeglasses in black but it’s hoping to add more colors in the future.
As expected, technology start-ups rule on Springwise. A Thailand company developed Bye Bye Red Eye, an app that tells sleepy drivers where to find the closest coffee stops. This is an app that can make money, save lives, and serve as a win/win for drivers.
Mango Health devised an app that reminds patients to take their medications on time. Users must file the name of the medication online and how often they need to take it--and the app will then remind them when to do it. It’s perfect for forgetful seniors or always-on-the-move Generation X and Y’ers. Moreover, points are rewarded when users remember to take medications. The points can be exchanged for discounts at retailers like Gap and Target.
Not all business ideas circulated on Springwise are tech-related. For example, the company Moveo developed a folding electric scooter that can shrink into about 60% of its full size, almost like a bicycle. It can fit into a medium-sized suitcase and be carted away.
Since rural communities often don’t have enough banks to meet the demand, another start-up launched a bus that offers banking and drives to faraway rural towns.
Some out-of-the-box ideas sound downright bizarre. The BioBulb, a lighting product developed by undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, consists of Escherichia coli (E. coli), a bacteria that can cause vomiting and serious illness. The BioBulb produces inexpensive light, but how many consumers will buy it when they learn that E. coli is a major ingredient?
Chris Kreinczes, a London-based managing partner at Springwise, describes the website as “brain food for entrepreneurial minds.” He says it appeals to “budding entrepreneurs, heads of start-ups, management consultants, marketing managers, consumer insight experts, trend watchers, journalists, business development directors and venture capitalists.”
Having their description on Springwise can boost a company’s fortunes. “We’re read by a number of angels and investors who keep a close eye on our pages for the next big thing,” Kreinczes says. Businesses such as Tagwhat (an app that sends customized content to users), Podtime (a sleep pod, which is a cocoon-type structure for naps), and Coffee Joulies (coffee beans and devices to keep coffee warm) saw their business spike and their credibility grow from Springwise’s descriptions.
Those looking to pursue business opportunities subscribe to Springwise Access. For a monthly or yearly fee, subscribers gain access to a database of 4,000 global businesses. Springwise distributes weekly and daily newsletters for free to anyone who requests them.
Kreinczes says that keeping the information on the site objective is key to its success. “The more objective we keep our content, the better the service,” he says. If an advertiser posts something on the site, it’s labeled as such to let readers know.
Ultimately, Kreinczes adds, Springwise allows investors to “keep tabs on our pages in a search for potential investment opportunities.”
Gary M. Stern is a freelance writer based in New York City.