Category: inspires me

Marketing: my thermostat kicks your thermostats butt

Or does it? If yours is a nest, then not. If it isn’t, then it does both in looks and in functionality.

Interesting marketing observation; I recently found these two ads in Dwell by Nest Thermostat (which I do have and love BTW). What I thought is very interesting from a marketing perspective is that they appraise their thermostat for looks first.

Don’t get me wrong, the device is beautiful and very intuitive to use, but it’s main function is to make the task of programming your home heating/cooling more enjoyable and save on energy. I therefor found it interesting that they first hook you on looks and then on function.

What do you think?

Nest Ad

Jason Calacanis: “[OWS]…convince us your option is better.”

“You don’t need to convince the world that Wall Street is corrupt — we know that — you need to convince us that your option is better.”

Jason Calacanis delivered a real Zinger today in his email newsletter. If the above quote tickles your fancy, do yourself a favor and subscribe to his newsletter at: http://calacanis.com/

PS: I don’t think you’ll receive the latest newsletter when signing up, I might have to “secretly” post it here if you wish. Let me know: twitter/hanseich

Choose a Future Path: “The harder, the better”

I’m currently in a state of choosing which path I would like to go in the future. I’ve started one company and shut it down. One reason that I decided to close it down was that I realized that there was nothing really new about it. Wooden toys exist, maybe not made in Canada and with that kind of respect for the environment, but in essence there was nothing really earth shaking about it. This does not mean that it is not a viable business. New plumbing business’ get started every day, new brands are created that are just a tiny variation of something that already exists. It also does not mean that these less earth shaking products/companies can not be very successful (ie: Innocent drinks in England)

I often talk to people that have “spontaneous” ideas of what kind of business I could start next or get into, but 99.9% of them are nothing that I’d like to get started. I hear the sentence “such and such makes very good money.” Often I have to dismiss the ideas. The reason? Too easy, not outrageous enough!

Here is one of the biggest indicators of what company, project or job I find to be worth giving a shot: how disruptive is the technology, system or company to current markets. The more disruptive, the better. The current status quo of whichever industry you are “attacking” will always try to downplay your idea, say that it is not possible to do what you want to do. I say, unless you get a lot of flack from the guys you are trying to play ball with, the better. This is probably also an indicator that you are probably on the right path.

Here are some examples of products that have disrupted previous systems:

  • the car to the “horse and buggy industry”
  • vonage to the traditional phone industry (or even one step further: skype)
  • emails to snail mail
  • online movies to DVD rental stores
  • (upcoming) electric cars to gas powered cars
  • (upcoming) alternative decentralized power generation to current power generation

I think you get my point. Getting into a disruptive industry will yield the best returns, but it is a hard path of rolling that big massive stone up the hill. Eventually it will get easier as it gets more mainstream, but for the beginning: the harder, the better.

What do you think about that? Please leave a comment.

PS: Also keep in mind, that eventually the technology that was so disruptive in the first place, will also be disrupted by new technology of the future, so be outrageous and think even further down the road.

1931: “I’d put my money on sun and solar energy…”

“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

— Thomas Alva Edison talking to Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in 1931

What a great insight 70 years ago. What have we done with this so far?

Eco Insanity vs. Realistic Environmentalism and Real Solutions

Do you know any eco freaks? A Prius driving friend that is always trying to find the next stainless steal lunch box, recycled doodiddy, solar powered toaster? Fast to point fingers at companies or products that are unsustainable, and choose products that at least appear green. They don’t waste a single sheet of paper without scribbling on absolutely every blank space. Your friend is now even fully carbon offset as well. (*)

I must confess that looking back, I did have an eco insane phase in my life. I’ve been a person with an environmentalists mindset all of my life because I love nature, which manifested itself very early on in my life. During my “eco insane” phase, I did things that in hind sight seem over the top and ineffective. Some things I’m rather embarrassed about, some that I would and will still do today.

My observation is that in general most of the changes done in our live styles only touch the surface of the issue, or they might seem environmentally friendly, but are only a continuation of the same over-consumption and destructive pattern, just now with an “eco” label. Humanity destroys the environment, and leaves great devastation behind. In nature we could classify this as behavior as parasitism: a parasite that feeds of its host until the host dies (and with it, also the parasite). In nature on the other hand, growth is generally encouraged and desired. Growth promotes a more healthy environment.

So what is actually wrong?

Most so called “greenies” are not looking at the big picture. The changes that are being done just skim the surface. Many “green” products are either just “green washed” or they attack the issue at the wrong end and not at the root. Our lives need to become more like what they were 300 years ago. Garbage back then was biodegradable and not the kind of garbage that would stay around for hundreds of years.

An old concept + new technology

In nature, waste products become food for the next generation. When a plant dies, or the leaves fall on the ground, they become fertile soil for more plants. This is exactly how we have to look at our production cycles. The book “Cradle to Cradle” is all about this concept. Rather than being eco-efficient, which is just a slower way to pollute the earth, process’ need to be eco-effective and biologically regenerative. Once a product has reached the end of its life cycle, it needs to be either simply safely composted with no harm to the environment or fully put back into the industrial material cycle, and fully reused again.

Landfills would be a thing of the past. Giant compost heaps would be the only garbage that would exist. Giant Hybrids, which “Cradle to Cradle” describes as landfills which consist of valuable industrial materials mixed with compostable matter, would be a thing of the past.

If a product actually promotes healthy environment, then why not consume as much of it as we need? It would mean that you are actually doing good by consuming it.

Two Examples of Products that are eco-effective

Climatex: A Textile made by Gessner AG in Switzerland. The documentary “Waste = Food” uses this company as an example of what the concept it all about. When they switched their production of textiles, which traditionally uses an enormous amount of toxic materials, from environmentally unsustainable and polluting process’ to creating fully compostable textiles, the waste water that was coming out of the plant, became cleaner than on the input side.

Calera’s Concrete: This product actually sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere. Rather than using regular concrete which uses a lot of energy to produce, why not use this product which benefits the environment. I’m sure that having a forest rather than a concrete drive way would be a better solution, but unfortunately we can’t live without this product anymore, so why feel bad when using this?

I’d like to encourage everyone to watch this documentary (I’m sure I have posted the link to it before).

For more detailed information, I would also highly recommend the book “Cradle to Cradle”

(*) What does the company actually do with the money they are happy to take from your friend? What does the company actually do with the money? Have you ever asked them? Shouldn’t it be used to actively get CO2 out of the air?

Is Manufacturing in China really that much cheaper?

Picture 4I’m always so perplexed to see how much stuff is made in China and I don’t really get it. Shouldn’t we be interested in creating as many jobs here rather than shipping them offshore?

It’s a tough question, but hear me out, I’ll show you a fancy video at the end.

Lets for instance look at a Billy bookcase from Ikea. Do you really think that there is a lot of labor involved in making one of those? If everything is completely automated in the manufacturing of the bookcase, the only thing that would be more expensive is setting up the factory and maintaining the machinery, but should that cost (even with much higher labor cost) be so small compared (almost neglectable) to the amount of product that is made?

Here is a video of a machine that drills the holes into a shelf, not fully automated, but this is just a demonstration as to the type of machinery used in making a book case. There are machines out there, that just have to be loaded with wood and other materials and that just spit out bookcases every few minutes. Think about it.

So after seeing this, does it really matter if this machine sits in the USA, Canada or in China?