Yes, we all agree that innovation is the only way out of the current mess that both mature and not-so-mature consumer societies find themselves in. We’re talking basically anything that will get consumers spending again, and preferably the kind of spending that involves sustainable goods, services and experiences.
There will never be a shortage of smart new ventures, brands, goods and services that deliver on consumers’ wants and needs. And if those wants and needs currently revolve around practicality, efficiency and responsibility, and less about traditional luxury, splurging and upgrading, then that’s what brands should deliver on. Which seems doable, judging from the dozens of recent innovations spotted by Springspotters around the world, courtesy of Springwise site.
Check out these 100 Innovative Business ideas in no particular order, all sourced from Springwise, which finds and publishes the best innovations from around the world, with the help of 8,000+ Springspotters.
2. Sample U is a product testing site where TRYSUMERS are given lab memberships allowing them to take home products and discuss them with friends, in exchange for providing demographic information for market research purposes. Read full article.
3. FedEx Office recently drew attention by extending a helping hand to job seekers, offering free printing (on March 10th) of up to 25 black-and-white copies of their resume at any of the company’s 1,600+ stores across the US. Read full article.
4. Washington DC-based Read full article.gives away paper cups with advertisements on them to corporate customers across the US.
5. No Doubt is giving away free downloads of their entire digital audio catalogue to high-end ticket buyers for the band’s tour, that just kicked off in Atlantic City. Read full article.
6. An iPhone application developed for Read full article.combines a store locator with coupons for a free coffee and biscotti. After downloading the app, users plug in their phone number and receive a unique coupon code on their iPhone. To claim their coffee, they just show the code to a 7-Eleven clerk; no purchase necessary. The coupon is only valid once, and free coffee in April will be followed by free ice cream in May.
7. Utique is an upscale vending machine that dispenses select luxury and personal care products handpicked by specialists with backgrounds in global beauty, trend-hunting and innovation. Read full article.
8. British Read full article.invites consumers to rent out aspects of their daily life to advertisers: whether it’s their clothes, car, house or online profile. The idea of individuals renting out their own foreheads or tee-shirts as billboards is not new, but the founders of Everyday Models (British student James Brookner and photographer Matt Garcia) are the first to create a business model around brokering other people’s possessions as ad space.
9. Amsterdam’s Read full article.r gives patrons access to a personal minibar and lets them serve themselves. Designed by Dutch design firm Concrete, Minibar offers consumers a way to avoid long lines at the bar without having to spring for pricey bottle service.
10. Hollrr encourages fans of specific products for spreading the word to their friends via email, Facebook and Twitter, and rewards them with deposits into Amazon Flexible Payment Accounts. The Seattle-based website, which is still in beta, has found an innovative way to help small companies launch new products by turning customers into sales(wo)men. Read full article.
11. An initiative from Lexus, Time and American Express Publishing, called mine, allows consumers to create their own personalized magazines by choosing editorial content from Time, Sports Illustrated, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Money, InStyle, Golf, and Travel + Leisure. Read full article.
12. California-based ShortTask finds qualified workers for companies in need of help with tasks that are too small to justify hiring an employee: think finding articles, or commenting on Amazon.com. Read full article.
13. Washington, D.C.-based College Hunks Hauling Junk hires the friendliest and most trustworthy junk haulers at local colleges and universities, and recycles more than 60 percent of the junk they collect. Businesses that are inherently no sexier than this one can learn from College Hunks and their sister business, College Foxes Hauling Boxes, how to brand their service as fun, personable and responsible. Read full article.
14. Fortnum & Mason has four hives placed on the roof of its Piccadilly store. Via webcams, customers can watch the bees as they create honey that will eventually be sold in the store. Read full article.
16. The Fairmont Royal York hotel has installed a threehive apiary 14 stories above the streets of Toronto and the resulting honey is used in the hotel’s restaurant kitchen. The response from hotel patrons has been so positive that the hotel plans to install three more hives at other sites this summer. Read full article.
17. Dutch hospitality group La Bergère is decorating a new hotel in Maastricht—dubbed, for now, Hotel X—with furniture and knick-knacks that it’s buying from ordinary consumers, asking them to scour their spare rooms and attics for unique chairs, ceramics, board games and even plants. Read full article.
19. A Vida Portuguesa has opened a store exclusively dedicated to Portugal’s unique brands. Customers can find over 1,000 products that have maintained their original packaging, that are made by hand, or that represent traditional Portuguese craftsmanship; everything on stock holds a fragment of the nation’s collective memory. Read full article.
20. Aiming to offer women some welldeserved relaxation and rejuvenation after they’ve given birth, Minneapolis/St. Paul-based Go Home Gorgeous offers a variety of in-hospital-room spa services for new mothers. Options include massage, aromatherapy and soothing music. Read full article.
21. StickieStory is an interactive storybook from Argentina that allows kids to paste stickers with their own names and photos on the book’s pages as they follow along with the story. Read full article.
22. BillMyParents allows parents to monitor their children’s online spending by forwarding any attempted purchases to the parent for them to deny or authorize with a credit card number. The San Diego-based service currently only targets US consumers. Read full article.
23. San Francisco-based Replyforall is a site that raises money for charities by adding a cause’s information to a user’s e-mail signature. The signature shows information about the cause, along with a mention of one of Replyforall’s participating financial sponsors. Replyforall distributes sponsors’ payments amongst the causes that users have selected. Read full article.
24. Heineken has teamed up with design agency UXUS to create a ‘democratic airport lounge’ at Hong Kong’s International Airport. The Read full article.treats travelers to luxuries and perks typically reserved for first and business class passengers, like private conversation nooks, custom-white leather sofas, striking light fixtures and a variety of beer served on tap.
25. In the greater New York area, Central Parking System and other parking companies offer half-price parking for Smart fortwo owners. The service, which is a partnership with Smart USA, is based on the notion that drivers shouldn’t have to pay full price if their car only takes up half a parking spot. Read full article.
26. San Francisco-based startup Legacy Locker entrusts the details of customers’ online accounts, from Gmail and Facebook to eBay and PayPal, to assigned beneficiaries in the event of the customer’s death or disability. Read full article.
27. BlueMailCentral lets users send paper mail directly from their computers. After creating a document in Word, Outlook or any other application, customers click ‘print’ to send their file to one of BlueMailCentral’s printing partners, which prints the document and delivers it to its destination. Read full article.
28. Also check out California-based Zumbox, which has created an online mailbox for every residence and business street address in the US, allowing any US citizen to send and receive all-digital mail for free. Read full article.
29. Hot croissants or cookies? Baker Tweet is a technology that alerts customers via Twitter any time a fresh batch of baked goods emerges from a participating bakery’s oven. The service is still in prototype form at the Albion Cafe in London, but it could be easily be duplicated to provide potential customers everywhere with up-to-the-minute information about all kinds of products. Read full article.
31. Kogi Korean BBQ sells their signature tacos primarily through two trucks in the Los Angeles area. In order to know where to find them, customers follow Kogi on Twitter, and it’s not unusual to find hundreds of the company’s 19,000+ Twitter friends lined up and socializing while awaiting their turn at the Kogi truck. Read full article.
32. Wi-Drive is a green, weekday bus service that offers high-end transportation for San Francisco commuters. By emulating the comfort of a limousine with amenities like leatherette seats, wifi, LCD screens and iPod ports, Wi-Drive is giving green commuter transportation a luxury spin likely to be emulated in cities around the world. Read full article.
33. Bike-sharing programs are cropping up all over Asia, from YouBike rentals in Taipei that are free for the first 30 minutes, to similar programs launched in Taiwan, Changwon, Korea and Hangzhou. Read full article.
34. Cycle2City, the first fullservice facility for bicycle commuters in Australia, provides cyclists with a place to store and repair their bikes, take a shower and change into business attire. As the number of cycling commuters grows around the world, so will the need for other services that ease the transition from four wheels to two. Read full article.
35. Denim Therapy’s jeans-doctoring service has added a new offering to its line: a special service that adjusts favourite jeans for pregnant bellies—and then, post-baby, back again. Pregnant mothers simply send New York-based Denim Therapy their favourite jeans. Denim Therapy then inserts expandable side inseams in the pants that will move and grow as the woman’s belly expands. Read full article.
36. When Dutch consumers register with Spaarbod, the service automatically compares interest rates from various banks and gets the banks to bid on a saver’s funds. Read full article.
37. Led in part by Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake, Hunch is an online decision-making tool that gets to know a user through his or her answers to seemingly random questions. Based on those answers, Hunch aligns users with other people that are like them—their twinsumers—and can offer personalized answers to complex questions like: “Should I go to medical school?” Read full article.
38. CrowdSprout lets groups of parents interested in purchasing the same item (think high chairs or cradles or diaper bags) band together to get a better price by bidding, and committing to making the purchase only if enough other buyers join. Whether it’s to buy a stroller or a soccer team, crowd clout is becoming a force for vendors to contend with. Read full article.
39. Amplified Journeys is a site from UKbased sound system manufacturer Harman Kardon that gives users driving directions and matching playlists of location-inspired music based on preferred artists or musical genres. Read full article.
40. ING Wegwijzer, an application built for the TMobile G1 (Google) phone, allows users to locate the nearest ATM simply by pointing their phone’s camera in any direction, with nearby ATMs showing up on the display. Read full article.
41. Patrons at Wagaboo restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona can now reserve specific table online. What sector is next to succumb to consumers’ relentless search for the Best of the Best? Read full article.
42. Read full article.is an online platform in the UK that brings together neighbors, tenants and landlords to help improve both practical issues and social connections, using widgets, calendars and forums.
43. The Local is a community of news and information websites from The New York Times, catering to the residents of five areas in New York and New Jersey: Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange. Combining both professional and citizen journalism, and targeting stories toward specific communities, The Local could be one of the new models that struggling newspapers are desperately looking for. Read full article.
44. Enabling customers of participating retailers to receive their packages wherever it’s convenient, Read full article.is a network of neighborhood pickup points, from convenience stores to dry cleaners. The company is currently active throughout the Boston area, but aims to expand farther afield in the near future.
45. The Printed Blog is an independent outlet that aggregates user-generated, online content, and publishes it in print to create a fully tactile newspaper that functions like a web feed, but can still be spread out across the breakfast table or enjoyed on the train. Read full article.
46. MyGofer is a warehouse-style concept where Illinois shoppers can browse products online and then drive to a local Sears store for curbside pickup. Which combines the convenience and selection of an online store with the immediacy of a bricks and mortar retailer. Read full article.
48. Borro is an online pawnbroker that provides short term loans to customers who cannot borrow from banks, or who have maxed out their other options. Offering them cash for jewelry, gold and memorabilia, the site brings an ancient system into the 21st century. Read full article.
49. Read full article.is an all-natural ice cream made from only five ingredients—skim milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks and one of a few natural flavors like mint, ginger and coffee. What makes the product stand out is its simplicity; in uncertain times, bringing back the classics can appeal to consumers’ nostalgia.
50. Wanna Start a Commune helps its members to harness the power of shared resources (read: saving money by living together), with tools like a downloadable starter pamphlet, and potluck and workshop planning information. Three pilot projects are already underway in the Los Angeles area. Read full article.
51. Van Gogh is Bipolar, a restaurant and cafe that opened in Quezon City, only serves all-natural ‘happy-hormone-producing’ foods, set to lift customers’ moods. Its menu is loaded with foods that are believed to help balance the brain’s levels of serotonin and dopamine, which in turn helps alleviate mild to moderate depression. Read full article.
52. Philadelphia company SRS Energy has developed the Solé Power Tile, a roof tile designed to sustainably convert sunlight into electricity without compromising aesthetics. Read full article.
53. Designed by a former Rolls Royce turbine engineer under the wing of UK-based The Power Collective, RidgeBlade, is a wind-power system that can be fitted to buildings with minimum visual impact and maximum energy conversion potential. Read full article.
54. Realizing that many consumers have great ideas for products, but lack the know-how to turn an idea into a manufacturable design, Ponoko has now added a clever new option: Read full article., lets anyone submit a request, including a description (purpose, materials, colours, measurements, etc, plus links to relevant images, sketches or videos if they have them), as well as their ideal price and delivery deadline. Their request is then sent to a selection of designers who can put forward a bid by emailing a brief proposal to the shopper.
56. From an online store that specializes in personalized gifts comes a literary appeal to anyone’s vanity. GettingPersonal sells classic novels—mostly as gifts—that let recipients and their friends star as the main characters. Read full article.
57. Much like socks, gloves have the tendency to lose their other halves. In the spirit of ‘waste not, want not’, environmental group Green Thing has launched a venture that pairs up single gloves and sells them to new owners. Read full article.
58. With USD 714 billion outstanding student-loan debt hanging over graduates in the US, it’s no surprise that more and more people are turning to free educational content on the web. Academic Earth, a US enterprise that makes lectures from Ivy League colleges free and accessible to all web users. Now, featuring over 1,500 videos the website is broadening its scope by offering courses for high school high-flyers. Read full article.
59. New Zealand start-up Your Pure Honey is offering customers the chance to own a share of a beehive in and enjoy the Manuka honey it produces. Your Pure Honey is keen to establish a personal connection between partners and their hives. Each partner receives a personal link to a website that’s updated throughout the season. Read full article.
60. Vitaminwater, offering an alternative use for Facebook, the beverage company is inviting users to create new flavours and vitamin content. After adding the FlavorCreator app from Vitaminwater’s Facebook page, users can help influence the flavour, functional benefits and design of the new water. Read full article.
61. Toronto’s Sweet Flour Bake Shop lets patrons design their own baked treats and eat them fresh from the oven just two minutes later. More than 15,000 possible combinations face Sweet Flour customers, who begin by choosing the cookie dough base they’d like: original, peanut butter or oatmeal. Read full article.
62. There are a multitude of foodie websites and blogs catering to most every culinary whim, but food52 is one with an especially clear premise: 52 weeks, 52 recipe contests, and a crowd-sourced cookbook to celebrate the result. Read full article.
63. Most people order pizzas when they’re at home or at work. Aiming to broaden those delivery horizons, Domino’s Pizza in the Netherlands recently placed white doors in the park and on the beach. Read full article.
64. A new social enterprise by Mercy Corps is taking a pragmatic approach to improving children’s food intake. The Healthy Street Foods Project has funded a fleet of food stalls and is providing them to selected street-vendors around the city. Known as Kedai Balitaku (‘My Child’s Cafe‘), they serve nutritional food at low prices. Each cart comes equipped with a hand-washing station. Read full article
65. Premium ice-cream is a highly sophisticated food category that doesn’t shy away from unusual flavours. But none of these stray quite as far from plain vanilla as an x-rated gelato by The Icecreamists that’s touted to have the same charge as a dose of Viagra. Read full article.
66. If two heads are better than one, it’s hard to argue with the premise of crowd-sourcing, which taps multiple brains for a common end. Now offering such capabilities overnight is Ideas Culture, an Australian firm that puts creative thinkers around the globe to work via Twitter to solve a client’s problem by morning. Read full article.
67. Housing referrals are a tried and tested way of connecting landlords and tenants by inviting current residents to refer people in exchange for a finders fee. Aiming to leverage the strength of social media, RentMineOnline took the next natural step and added Facebook to the mix. The venture is effectively an online affiliate program for real-world house rental. Read full article.
68. If billboards can be used to give out free samples of scarves, caps and gloves, why not a little sympvertising in the form of a branded dinghy? Which is just what Indian mobile provider Aircel recently did in Mumbai in the days leading up to this year’s monsoons. Read full article.
69. Long gone are the days of boring mugs and faded postcards, as museums and other cultural institutions have become increasingly savvy retailers. Aiming to build on that strength, CultureLabel showcases products from over 60 galleries, museums and other cultural entities, ‘exploring the space where culture and consumer culture meets’. Read full article.
70. Turning shoppers into philanthropists, Read full article.is an online gift retailer that donates 20% of all purchases of USD 100 or more to a charity of the buyer’s choice. Which allows them to be generous twice: once when giving the gifts they purchased, and a second time when donating 20% of their value to a favourite charity.
71. The Los Angeles fashion label’s Ed Hardy Habit line clearly targets style-conscious consumers with a variety of sanitizers packaged featuring themes and motifs borrowed from its popular clothing line, which was created by French designer Christian Audigier based on the designs of Don Ed Hardy, also known as “the godfather of modern tattoo.” Read full article.
72. If consumers can design their own fabrics, dresses, handbags and sneakers, it stands to reason that they should be able to create their own high-heeled shoes too. Stiletto fans will surely rejoice, then, to learn of Read full article., a site where they can do just that—and earn some cash for their creations.
73. Enter Wool and the Gang, a Swiss venture that sells all-in-one kits complete with everything that’s needed to make a particular knit design. Fourteen kits comprise Wool and the Gang’s do-it-yourself line, each complete with the necessary yarn, a pair of wooden knitting needles, a pattern, a sewing needle and patches. Read full article.
74. Realizing that both existing and potential clients might appreciate a chat about a haircut before visiting their stylist, Plan B Salon in Cambridge, Massachusetts launched a new service offering 15-minute video consultations. Prior to their appointment, customers can get an idea of what their options are or how receptive the stylist is to their requests, without wasting time on a journey to the salon. It also lets clients to weigh various possibilities before going in for a cut. Read full article.
75. A passionate statement from London-based grooming shop Geo F. Trumper, which now offers classes on how to shave properly. Customer demand led to the introduction of the one-to-one sessions, in which a barber shows a customer the best techniques for shaving and how to avoid unsightly problems such as ingrown hairs and razor burn. Other shaving tips are offered according to skin type. Read full article.
76. Women who love their high heels may already be aware of ‘emergency’ flats that roll up and fit inside a purse in order to be slipped onto tired feet the end of a long night of dancing. Two new companies in England, Rollasoles and Afterheels have taken the concept a step further by selling their version of portable flats in vending machines at nightclubs. Read full article.
77. People like knowing what they’re getting before they open their wallets. For those looking to get a new haircut, MopShots offers an online lookbook of real cuts on real people, with details on the salons that created them. Read full article.
78. YouTube regularly spawns flash-in-the-pan celebrities, but few have managed to build a profitable business out of their exposure. Lauren Luke is a rare exception—the British self-taught make-up guru built such a loyal following with her chatty tips on how to imitate celebrity looks, that she just launched her own line of cosmetics: Read full article..
79. Much the way BookOfCooks connects amateur chefs with consumers seeking a home-cooked meal, Plant Concierge is a new site that helps those in need of gardening advice find local experts who can help. Plant Concierge includes experienced amateurs who may just be available for a few hours per week, for example, but who can still provide the expertise that’s needed. Read full article.
80. EcoFaeBrick turns cattle waste into bricks that are greener, stronger and 20% lighter than regular clay bricks. Read full article.
81. New York-based Green Irene aims to help consumers reduce their homes’ carbon footprint. Green Irene’s flagship service is its Green Home Makeover, which it offers for USD 99. As part of that service, one of Green Irene’s local eco-consultants will spend 60 to 90 minutes walking through a consumer’s home and developing a customized set of recommendations for saving money, energy and water, and for just living a healthier life. Read full article.
82. For those not fortunate enough to have a garden, a new UK initiative seeks to match would-be gardeners with landowners willing to share their arable land. Seeking to provide an alternative to the UK’s already oversubscribed land-allotment lists, the Landshare campaign aims instead to convert underused land back into productive use for growing fresh fruit and vegetables. Read full article.
83. Cell phones may have changed the way people communicate in the developed world, but in developing countries they’re going far beyond simple communication to bring new opportunities to areas that sorely need them. Case in point: FrontlineSMS:Medic, a new initiative to improve health care in poor, rural villages. Read full article.
84. The internet may have given music fans unprecedented access to the world’s music, but finding it in any kind of organized way can be a challenge. Now providing a location-based approach comes CitySounds.fm, a music browser that streams the latest music of the world, city by city. Read full article.
85. Much the way Webkinz pets are more than just stuffed animals, so t-shirts can be more than just t-shirts when they forge links to the online world. The conversation-starters offered by Reactee, Shyno and Augme are one type of example; now bringing a new purpose to such connections comes The Music Tee, a shirt that gives wearers the right to free music downloads. Read full article.
86. We’ve seen several companies already that allow consumers to help sell the music of their favourite bands—with rewards each time they do—and now a new contender out of Australia, Posse, is giving them a way to promote upcoming concerts as well. Read full article.
87. Oak Hall Industries, a manufacturer of academic apparel which claims to be the first in its industry to use recycled materials. Greenweaver is Oak Hall’s new line of caps and gowns, so named because the range is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. Read full article.
88. A new eco-site called Angry Green Girl is celebrating its launch with a car wash featuring five models sporting teeny green bikinis, who’ll sud up eco-friendly cars for free using waterless cleaners. Read full article.
89. Tokyo candlemakers Filt don’t have to travel far to source their raw materials: they’re located directly above Chubby, a cafe that’s happy to hand over its used cooking oil to Filt, which carefully filters the oil to remove odors and sediment. Read full article.
90. With all the pressures placed upon forests for the natural resources they contain, it was only a matter of time before someone used a crowdfunding model to protect and sustain them. Sure enough, at Wisconsin’s Driftless Farm, members pay an annual contribution in exchange for the right to enjoy many of the experiences and products the forest has to offer. Read full article.
91. New York’s water-toting crowd has a convenient new way to be sustainable while staying hydrated, as a tap water refilling service officially launches in the city. Read full article.is a community program that enables people to refill their water bottles at participating cafés, completely free of charge. TapIt aims to help people stay healthy and hydrated without relying on single-use plastic bottles.
92. Of all of the examples we’ve seen of upcycling—turning waste materials into new products— teddylux is undoubtedly the most adorable. Each plush teddy bear, elephant and bunny made by the Georgia business is fashioned from a discarded cashmere sweater. Read full article.
93. Following a multimillion pound refurbishment, and using little more than seawater, SEA LIFE London Aquarium ran a (close to) zero-impact advertising campaign in the streets of London. You might recognize the masterminds behind the campaign:Curb, the media agency that uses natural materials to build brand awareness for its clients.Read full article.
94. British supermarket chain Waitrose dates back to the early 1900s, when bicycle and horse and cart were its chosen methods of delivery. Now—proving once again the old adage that everything that goes around comes around—much the same methods have returned as part of the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Read full article.
95. Farmers markets have long been providing individuals with a place to purchase fresh produce, but until now there have been limited opportunities for individuals with gardens and fruit trees to distribute their own (leftover) crops. Portland-based Veggie Trader is a kind of online farmers market that connects individual produce sellers, buyers and swappers. Read full article.
96. With more and more aspects of daily life abandoning their physical form and appearing electronically, why should libraries be any different? That’s why Sony has partnered up with software firm OverDrive, offering bookworms an easier way to borrow e-books. Read full article.
97. Technology has already created myriad new ways for parents to interact with their children, whether by narrating their own storybook videos or by playing an iPhone game on a shared walk through the park. A new option is Story Something, a site that generates personalized e-stories in which the kids listening are the heroes. Read full article.
99. Cash-strapped consumers are increasingly looking to their spare rooms, their backyards and even their furniture for ways to earn some extra money. Now they can offer up their photos for sale as well thanks to Fotomoto. Fotomoto enables anyone with photographic content to sell their photos directly from their website or blog. Read full article.
100. New Jersey-based Rentobile provides a wide selection of the latest cell phones for rent on a monthly basis so that consumers can try out various devices without being limited by a long term contract. A Netflix for phones, indeed. Read full article.
Source, Photo and description: Springwise.com, trendwatching.com