Creative entrepreneurs are taking advantage of new and improved capabilities—A sampling of our top picks of the year
by Karin O’Connor
Think social media is where it’s at? Well, you’d be right, of course. Facebook, Pinterest, and their various siblings, cousins and offspring are definitely here to stay. But we’ve been spotting a few other, perhaps not so visible, trends that incorporate advances in technology into creative new solutions that promise to make our lives easier, more productive, and, well, just plain more interesting. A few examples from our recent travels. . . .
Cureeo—Making the elite world of fine art accessible to the rest of us
Have you ever visited an art gallery and fell in love with a painting, only to suffer a mild stroke when you saw its price tag? Was it crazy-expensive or a good investment—and how can one tell, anyway? In love or not, it’s a good bet you moved on.
Enter Maida Swenson-Fortune, daughter of two artists, determined to find a way to take the fear out of purchasing fine art. Realizing that advances in online photo quality now make it possible to understand the details of a piece from an image, she created Cureeo (www.cureeo.com), an online marketplace bringing up-and-coming artists together with prospective collectors (and more casual buyers, too!). The site combines education modules—an “Art Collecting 101” for newbies and more complex sessions for those with more experience.
But its truly innovative twist is a unique rating system—think “Wine Advocate” for art—that assigns a number indicating relative value for price—to each piece. The number is determined by an algorithm that takes into account factors such as quality of reviews, where the art has been shown, and prices of recent sales by the same artist—characteristics routinely used by in-the-know collectors. It’s a shortcut that takes fear out of the equation—making that purchase decision easier and helping artists sell more work—a win/win that really makes sense.
Retrofit—Combining high-tech and high-touch into an effective weight-loss solution
Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the cabbage soup diet. . . some of us at Perimeter Advisors are all too familiar with the weight loss scene. Though we’d like to believe certain celebrities who claim that sprinkling a special powder on our food will do the trick, science and common sense tell us that the only truly effective way to lose weight and keep it off is through lasting behavior changes that involve healthful eating, exercise, and other positive lifestyle choices—and that the best way to make those changes is over time and with good advice and a focus on accountability.
Accomplishing this is tough enough without the added complexities of today’s busy lifestyles, which often mean late nights, crammed schedules, eating out, and lots of travel. Serial entrepreneur Jeff Hyman knew those problems firsthand. A couple of weeks at an expensive wellness resort did the trick for him. . . .temporarily. . . . .and got him to thinking about how to replicate that experience ongoing and online.
The result is Retrofit (www.retrofitme.com), a data-driven online weight loss program that combines the best of current technology, including a clip-on fitness monitor and wireless scale, with access (via Skype, of course!) to the professional support to help pull it all together. Clients are given a personalized program and do regular “meetings” with their exercise physiologist, nutritionist, and behaviorist, all of whom have access to data transmitted from the devices. Headed to a business dinner? Check in for advice on what to order. Starting to put on a few pounds? Expect a call to talk about what’s going on. Clients love the data component, with helps take the mystery out of the weight loss process and lets them chart their progress and compete with themselves for results.
Not as luxurious as a wellness spa, perhaps, but far more portable. And Retrofit is getting traction—91% of its clients are losing the weight!
PaletteApp—Helping designers spend more time designing
Architects and interior design professionals are some of the most creative people around. Clients count on their expert product knowledge and eye for color, texture, and look-and-feel to craft beautiful and appropriate spaces.
Pulling together palettes combining samples of fabrics, flooring, paint, and more is a critical part of the design process. But the logistics behind it can be daunting–heavy sample books—expensive to produce and store and often cumbersome to search; ordering of multiple sample pieces (many of which end up rejected and in the landfill almost immediately) and waiting for them to arrive. And how does one know whether they’ve even seen the best that the industry has to offer? The arrival of the internet helped make more products available—but now designers have to search each manufacturer’s site separately, making it hard to look at combinations side by side until the physical pieces arrive.
Design industry veteran Jerry Freeman came up with a solution—PaletteApp (www.paletteapp.com), an online repository of products from leading manufacturers throughout the industry. He figured out that today’s high-resolution photography means that designers can tell a lot more about a product from its picture than ever before. On PaletteApp, designers can place all of the product types they need into “digital palettes”—pulled together just as they would be in a physical piece—and try them out. No need to order dozens of samples; they can narrow down the field to the smaller group that really appeal. Even better, they can order all of the pieces—from all of the different manufacturers—with just one click.
Selection, convenience, and less admin—sounds like a way to help designers spend more time doing the work they (and their clients!) really love.
Are you working on a unique solution to someone’s pain? If so, give us a call—we’d love to hear more!