Coffee Meets Lawsuit

DoNotPay is a Tinder-esque app that helps users file lawsuits and claim awards from class-action settlements.

Instead of funneling through the endless bureaucracy, headache and investment that litigation entails, users can now swipe to sue. The app helps individuals claim everything from remediation from class-action lawsuits to reimbursement for late package delivery. And, the next time your airline kicks you off a flight, or your uber makes a wrong turn, you can be reimbursed for that with a simple tap. While skeptics may see this as an abuse of the legal system, anyone ever wronged by a corporation will finally feel empowered to act and will actually have the representation to do so (since most lawyers won’t talk to you unless your case can yield at least $10,000).

Why its hot: Tapping into native behavior to simplify and democratize access to justice.

Waze Lets Commuters Earn Money By Offering Carpooling Service

Democratizing rideshare services even further, navigation app Waze is testing out a carpool feature that will let regular people pick up passengers along their commute to work or school and earn commission.

With the popularity of services like Uber and Lyft, those looking to supplement their income are increasingly considering ways to capitalize on the booming rideshare industry. Navigation app Waze is currently looking to help commuters earn a little more by letting them pick up passengers to and from work with its recently launched Carpool feature.

There are a few rules in order to keep people from abusing the system: Participants can only partake in two carpools a day, and Waze will verify people’s workplaces through their email. Drivers will be able to choose riders based on their profiles, star ratings, gender, mutual friends status, or whether they are a coworker. Throughout October, the carpool will cost users $2, though afterwards the price will increase to $0.54 per mile.

The app is already in place for several schools and workplaces, including Amazon. The app hopes to take advantage of the democratization of rideshare services as well as appeal to consumer interest in helping reduce pollution and congestion by carpooling.

Why it’s… hot?: This is interesting how a navigation app is getting involved in ride sharing. This makes (slight) sense since this app is already interactive/feeds user data, however it is surprising that they are getting into potential legality issues with this initiative.

Source: PSFK

Personalized Razors, Made Possible by 3-D Printing

Gillette is bringing personalization to the razor industry. Powered by 3-D printers, Gillette and printing company Formlabs have created Razor Maker – a website where you can customize and purchase a razor of your own design.

Gillette’s new Razor Maker™ handles can be printed in seven colors, including black, white, red, blue, green, grey and chrome. (Photo: Business Wire)

The base razors to choose from include 45 intricate designs that are named after their textures, inspired by nature (e.g. Redwood, Coral, Agave). People can customize the color, number of blades, and grip. There’s even an option to add 12 characters of text.

The razors go for $19-$45, with the option to add additional blade cartridges for an extra $15. While the Razor Maker site isn’t currently linked to Gillette’s subscription service Gillette On Demand, it does ask people whether or not they are interested in learning more about the service right before they check out.

Why It’s Hot

With Dollar Shave Club adding new products like shampoo and deodorant to their subscription boxes, and Harry’s Razors launching Flamingo, a new brand of razors and wax strips for women, it’s interesting to see that Gillette is turning to personalization and 3-D printing to stand out from the competition.

More importantly, this is one of the first times a major brand is offering mass customization with 3-D printing. There are endless possibilities that P&G can explore with their other brands, so they may be using Razor Maker as a trial run of the technology with plans to expand in the future.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181017005532/en/Gillette-Partners-Formlabs-%E2%80%93-Boston-Startup-Defining

 

Take a photo, learn a language

Spark, a New Zealand telecom company, partnered with Google and Te Aka, an online Māori dictionary, to create an app that translates photos of objects into the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand.

The app is called Kupu. It uses machine vision technology to identify objects in a photo and then translates the name of the object into Te Reo Māori.

Why it’s hot: A fun and natural way of promoting and preserving an indigenous language through everyday life.

Source

 

Who seems to be winning the midterm elections on social media?

The New York Times analyzed data from one month’s (9/15 to 10/15) worth of social media activity by nearly all of the Republican and Democratic candidates running for House, Senate or governor this year. This data came from organic-only public content published to the Facebook and Instagram pages of these candidates.

Measuring total interactions on social media is an imperfect way to gauge a candidate’s electoral chances, in part because it does not distinguish between types of engagement. A negative comment left on a Republican candidate’s page by an angry Democrat would still count as an interaction, for example. In addition, it does not account for the fact that some candidates have more followers than others.

But social media engagement can be a crude measure of popularity, and a bellwether of shifts in public opinion that often turn up in polls days or weeks later. In 2016, many polls and pundits gave Mr. Trump little chance of winning, but his performance on Facebook was soaring, bolstered by millions of dollars in targeted advertising. His digital campaign director, Brad Parscale, later credited Facebook’s scale and influence with his victory.

Facebook is the most widespread platform, and for campaigns, it’s like broadcast television,” said Tim Lim, a Democratic digital consultant. “You have so much reach, and so many ad units, and probably more eyeballs than anywhere else.”

Democrats running for House, Senate and governor’s seats in this fall’s elections received a combined 15.1 million interactions on Facebook in the 30-day period, roughly three times the 5.4 million interactions received by Republican candidates.

Why it’s hot: we’ll find out this election day that to what degree we can link social media popularity to winning elections. Will there be a blue wave this election day?

Source

Nebraska: “Honestly. It’s Not For Everyone.”

The state of Nebraska is attempting to work its way out of its dead last position on the list of states that tourists are interested in considering for vacation through a new campaign which was revealed yesterday.

The Denver agency Vladimir Jones is giving the state a self-deprecating Midwestern spin with it’s new campaign; “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” Nebraska is often overlooked as a fun and interesting place to visit but the campaign is hoping to point out plenty of those offerings in some of the creative. The state’s farmland, rivers, festivals and geologic parks are all featured in it’s quippy executions.

It’s a major shift from the previous slogan, “Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.” The agency took a major risk as the approach could either be marketing genius or continue to solidify Nebraska’s built-in perceptions further. Reactions were mixed. Some shook their heads at the campaign while others felt it captured the state’s essence well.

Why it’s hot: Regardless of how well the campaign is received, it will turn heads and grab the attention of an audience that might have never considered the state.

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/nebraska-snubs-its-haters-with-new-tourism-slogan-honestly-its-not-for-everyone/?utm_content=position_1&utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=AW_Adfreak&utm_campaign=Adfreak_Newsletter_2018101816&s_id=59edf19472fbf2544c8b5862

Facebook Killed News

Seriously. Facebook killed news.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

The current suit stems from an earlier, more narrow lawsuit filed in 2016, after Facebook admitted its error. The issue, which Facebook has since addressed, involved Facebook’s calculations for the average length of time a video was being viewed. Instead of dividing the total watch time by every user who played a given video, Facebook only factored in users who watched for more than three seconds. That yielded watch times that, the Journal reported at the time, were 60 to 80 percent higher than reality.

It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become known as the “pivot to video.” Long story short, news rooms began to heavily invest in video, hiring tons of producers and content creators at the expense of firing journalists.

Why Its Hot

Would this have happened without Facebook’s ridiculously inflated video stats? Maybe. People do watch a ton of video on online even without Facebook. But when your business relies on advertising, and your ads are performing at the levels Facebook was reporting, you’ll probably think twice about who you’re hiring.

 

BMW Ringtones

BMW Financial Services wanted to interact with drivers more often than just at the beginning and end of their auto loan or lease. Pulling sounds from a real BMW 3 Series “driving machine,” BMWFS created a website that lets visitors design and download from a library of ringtones, even giving drivers the option to design their own.

The site designer from Partners + Napier describes it as, “… truly deliver(ing) a positive brand experience – every time your phone rings.”

How do drivers find these ringtones? In addition to buzz in BMW forums and social media, the ringtones are delivered to each BMWFS account holder on his or her birthday, far different any crummy canned message or expected discount you might get from other brands on your birthday.

Take a listen to the ringtones here.

Why its hot?
1) Surprise and delight meets long-term usefulness: BMW drivers know the brand for sending surprise and delight swag, but this one also delivers value. Unlike a hand-drawn image of your car series or a discount for your birthday, this is one drivers will likely use for awhile, keeping the brand top-of-mind without being intrusive.

2) Insight: The brand knows its customer (they call them drivers) well. BMW drivers love the sounds of their car (or even the car they aspire to have). BMW knows this and acted on it.

The Attention, Interest, Desire and Action Ad

Attention, Interest, Desire and Action- the  traditional marketing funnel defined by the traditional tactics to address each area. Each tactic is purposed to address one specific area of the funnel.

Enter Mobile Playable ads- while not a new initiative- they have been around since at least 2016- but can be more effective today with mobile usage at an all time high. Mobile Playable ads allow you to build an entire funnel within one ad type. They capture users’ attention with the promise of an enjoyable experience, build interest as users engage with the interactive ad spot and evoke desire and ultimately, action, with a strong call-to-action.

While playables are geared towards gaming apps- that doesn’t necessarily need to be their sole purpose. In fact brands could use this to promote apps or products.

Why it’s Hot?

Since every single user action in a playable ad is measurable, and nearly every aspect of the ad unit can be optimized to maximize performance- this is an ideal unit where clients are looking to maximize budget- and gather real time learning.

For brands like USPS-  Informed Delivery or the in-development Ship/Shape Ap. could be a good use of a Playable Ad. Creating an interaction and showing a practical use of a product/service can only benefit signups and or app downloads.

 

COALchella – coachella without the crowd

View image on Twitter

Think of it as all the fun of an outdoor music festival without the crowds—or the outdoors.

In late September, nearly 3,000 people logged on to their Minecraft accounts and got ready to party. The world-building video game has been often used to create larger than life sculptures, buildings, and artworks, but internet-collective Thwip Gang had bigger ideas.

After hosting a Minecraft-based “Birthday Party” for one of their members back in May, the Thwip Gang got to work organizing a full-scale concert completely within the gaming platform. With no more promotion than a few tweets on the organizers’ personal Twitter pages, Coalchella drew in 27,000 listeners over its 8 hours across various streaming platforms. (“Coalchella” because in Minecraft one mines coal, among other minerals. Just go with it.)

The free festival required nothing more than a Minecraft account to attend and drew some big name headliners like ANAMANAGUCHI and Electric Mantis. The musical lineup came together somewhat serendipitously—in an interview with the blog Melting of Age, one of Coalchella’s creators and Thwip Gang collaborator, Umru Rothenberg said, “It was a very random process of just asking whatever friends came to mind or saying ‘this person would be cool’ and checking if anyone was mutuals with them.”

After entering, festival goers arrived at the stage of their choosing — REDBLOCKS or BEDROCKS — and tuned into a livestream on the broadcast audio website Mixlr. Just like IRL, when the performer’s avatar took the stage, the crowd of block people burst into life and the music started. The digital attendees then started dancing and the in-game chat flooded with commentary about the concert.

Why its hot?
Comfortable co-existence with brands without them trying to be controlling:
As if a full-scale two-stage concert “venue” isn’t enough, the Thwip Gang also scattered brands and logos thoughout the virtual site. An IHOb restaurant, a giant Bass Pro Shops Pyramid, and an overhead IKEA blimp were among those featured. Only there was a catch: None of the brands knew their logos were being used for the event — they were mostly plastered around Minecraft as cultural touchstones.

“What will always be most important to me is…that [brands] are not influencing, openly or otherwise, what I am experiencing in any way,” says co-organizer Robin Boehlen, “We can coexist with brands without them becoming controlling.”

 

Not Nosy, Just Human

Ever sit somewhere and catch yourself staring intently at another person’s cell phone screen?

You’re not alone. So what is about other people’s screens that make them irresistible?

“Other people’s screens are windows into their lives, and brains, and relationships and work — into their politics, anxieties, failures and addictions. They tend to appear between one and three feet away from other people’s faces, depending.”

We used to not have as much access to other people’s screens as we do now. Home and office computers were more private than the now ubiquitous 5.5” screen everyone carries everywhere nowadays.

Munich researchers wanted to find out more about “shoulder surfing” in an effort to understand the security implications of having our lives exposed on small screens. So what did they find? The research suggested the majority of shoulder surfing was casual and opportunistic with survey respondents admitting they did it out of boredom and curiosity. In cases where there was malicious intent, “both users and observers expressed negative feelings in the respective situation, such as embarrassment and anger or guilt and unease.”

What were they looking at? Mostly text, and more specifically instant messaging, Facebook, email and news.

Observing shoulder surfers in NY can even tell how phone usage has changed since wifi was sporadically introduced. Gone are the days of CandyCrush. Today is all about long texts composed, then reworked and frantically sent when the signal appears, they are also selfies being retouched, or as the train transforms into an office, messages about the client. Other people’s screens can be used as warnings or endorsements. Whatever they contain, they are a reminder that we should all really just mind our business.

Why it’s hot:

As we design mobile experiences, should we keep in mind our second audience, the shoulder surfer?

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/style/why-you-cant-stop-looking-at-other-peoples-screens.html

Do you know where there’s a bathroom?

Find a public bathroom can be difficult. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. And even more so when you’re with a disabled person or disabled yourself.

Enter MoDE’s Restroom Map, a web-based app that allows people to plot the address of gender neutral or single occupancy public restrooms on a map so that others can plan trips around them. Created by David Nykodym and Christina Ingoglia, the app went live with Missouri-specific destinations in August and expanded nationally in September.

It is designed on Esri’s Crowdsource Reporter, a mapping platform hosted on ArcGIS, and allows users to add geographic markers that appear in different shapes and colors depending on the type of facility. There’s Unisex (orange dot), Family (blue diamond), Family with Adult Sized Changing Table (green star), and Other (yellow dot) for some spot that might have equally important but non-standard benefits.

So far, the public has designated 260 spots around the country. To expand the list, Ingoglia is in early discussions with several state public transportation departments to add their own rest-stop information.

Why its hot

This app solves an obvious problem that is actually a big issue for a lot of people. Able-bodied people find themselves running around looking for a bathroom, but imagine needing a very specific bathroom. It must be so frustrating. This app is such a simple design, relying on crowd-sourced data, with a familiar interface. I can see this catching on for anyone traveling, or even just in areas they know, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

Do you know where there’s a bathroom?

Find a public bathroom can be difficult. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. And even more so when you’re with a disabled person or disabled yourself.

Enter MoDE’s Restroom Map, a web-based app that allows people to plot the address of gender neutral or single occupancy public restrooms on a map so that others can plan trips around them. Created by David Nykodym and Christina Ingoglia, the app went live with Missouri-specific destinations in August and expanded nationally in September.

It is designed on Esri’s Crowdsource Reporter, a mapping platform hosted on ArcGIS, and allows users to add geographic markers that appear in different shapes and colors depending on the type of facility. There’s Unisex (orange dot), Family (blue diamond), Family with Adult Sized Changing Table (green star), and Other (yellow dot) for some spot that might have equally important but non-standard benefits.

So far, the public has designated 260 spots around the country. To expand the list, Ingoglia is in early discussions with several state public transportation departments to add their own rest-stop information.

Why its hot

This app solves an obvious problem that is actually a big issue for a lot of people. Able-bodied people find themselves running around looking for a bathroom, but imagine needing a very specific bathroom. It must be so frustrating. This app is such a simple design, relying on crowd-sourced data, with a familiar interface. I can see this catching on for anyone traveling, or even just in areas they know, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

A New Approach to Finding Locations

A start up called What3Words has mapped and renamed every location on Earth. Using an algorithm to scan GPS co-ordinates, they created 57 trillion 3 meter by 3 meter squares that each have unique three word address. For example, ‘Tools.sand.stone’ refers to a spot in Central Park in New York and ‘Sportscar.citronella.photocopiers’ is a square of the Antarctic Ocean.

They created this map in order to increase accuracy in navigation for businesses and individuals in a simple yet global way. 75% of countries don’t have their own organized addressing system, according to the UN, so the possibilities that this system opens up are far-reaching.

Consumers can download the free app in 25 languages to get directions. But the real value comes when What3Words partners with brands and government agencies. Pizza Hut and Dominoes are using these addresses in places like Mongolia and the Caribbean to deliver pizzas to remote locations. And several models of Mercedes are using What3Words for their built-in navigation systems.

Why It’s Hot

The applications for more precise, universal locations are a win-win for businesses and consumers. UPS estimates saving each of its drivers one mile per day would result in a $50 million in overall savings. For consumers, the benefits range from increased accuracy for driving directions to life-saving emergency vehicles arriving on the scene more quickly.

Source: https://www.marketingweek.com/2018/10/08/startup-simplify-location/

America runs on Dunkin’ – literally

Coffee not only powers people, it now also powers home. Dunkin’ Donuts created a transportable home that runs on bio-fuel created by used coffee grounds. And every 170 pounds of spent coffee grounds can yield about one gallon of fuel.

How it works:

  • Step 1: Extract excess oils in the spent coffee grounds. There can be natural oils left in spent coffee grounds, all depending on the coffee bean type and original processing methods.
  • Step 2: Mix and react. These oils are then mixed with an alcohol to undergo a chemical reaction known as transesterification. This produces bio-diesel and glycerin as a byproduct.
  • Step 3: Refine. The bio-diesel is washed and refined to create the final product.

What it’s hot: Finding practical ways to reuse resources and generate energy.

Source

Amazon just opened a physical store in NYC that only sells certain types of products

 

Amazon just opened their first-ever 4-star store. It opened in SoHo in New York City.

And as the name implies, everything on its shelves has earned at least a four-star review average from Amazon’s customers.

The store sells: devices, consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books, and games.

Amazon Prime members will pay lower prices than non-members.

Why it’s hot:

This is essentially a “customer curated” physical store from an e-commerce retailer.

It’s also tailored to local buying habits because it features products “trending around NYC” in addition to the 4-star + products.

More here.

Bose Creates First FDA-Approved Self-Fitting Hearing Aid

37.5 million adults report hearing issues without an aid. As the elderly population rises, this business is only going to grow. According to Markets Insider, the audio-aid market is expected to reach $9.78B by 2022, up from $6.9B in 2017.

Last week, the FDA approved the marketing of a new device, the Bose Hearing Aid, which can be used without assistance from a doctor. The Bose Hearing Aid is intended to amplify sounds for individuals 18 years or older with perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment (hearing loss).

The Bose Hearing Aid is controlled by a smartphone app, enabling patients to use, fit, and program hearing aid settings themselves — making it the first DIY hearing aid authorized for marketing by the FDA.

Why It’s Hot: The approval sent shares of traditional hearing-aid makers like William Demant, GN Store Nord, and Sonova tumbling 10%. Additionally, when one major company looks to diversify, its competitors usually follow. Meaning traditional brands could have an even tougher time cutting through the noise if other audio giants were to get in on the action.

domino’s strikes again…

Ordering in “zero taps”, ordering by tweet or text, ordering by voice assistant, now Domino’s has a new way to get your favorite order in a dangerously easy manner. “If this then Domino’s” is exactly what it sounds like. In collaboration with IFTTT, you can define moments when you might want Domino’s, and when those things happen, you can get a text asking to confirm if you want to order.

Why it’s hot:

Perhaps you’re not a fan of the food, but it’s interesting to see how Domino’s is using connected technology to prompt people to think of occasions when they might want a pizza. In an effort to expand the times when people order Domino’s, it’s just making it super easy and automated to have the option.

 

[Source]

Lex lets you park it anywhere

A company named Astride Bionix has Kickstarted a “wearable chair” they call Lex that lets you drag around a bulky thing around the city for those few minutes of the day when you’d rather be sitting. The Lex will retail north of the $300 rate on Kickstarter.

“The lightweight, 2.2-pound exoskeleton legs retract when they’re not in use, giving you the ability to move around easily and without any restrictions.” (Digital Trends)

https://www.facebook.com/insiderpresents/videos/699287137097216/

Story on ZDNet

Why It’s Hot

No more fighting strangers on the subway for a seat. Just plop one of these down anywhere you want.

What is Voldemorting, the anti-SEO phenomenon?

An article by Gretchen McCulloch in WIRED this week looks at the phenomenon of “Voldemorting” – or – choosing to use alternative words when referring to a certain subject in order to abstract it (much like “He Who Must Not Be Named” from Harry Potter).

Here’s an example of synonymous words hiding in plain sight:

“I’m so tired of all the bad news on birdsite.”

“Yeah, there’s just too much about The Cheeto.”

McCulloch cites this quirky internet habit to a paper from Researcher Emily van der Nagel, and describes two different approaches to this subversion of language becoming increasingly common on social media:

On one hand, internet users may choose an abstracted term in order to subvert the power dynamics of a subject or person they reject.  But interestingly, the tactic can also be used simply to evade brands, accounts, or users who may be highly attuned to a certain keywords. McCulloch writes, “Slightly different words make it difficult to find any particular one through search. While search engine optimization uses keywords and hashtags in a competition to make your post or website the most relevant, Voldemorting is the anti-SEO, the anti-keyword, and the anti-hashtag.”

WHY IT’S HOT:

As search algorithms have gotten smarter, and with it our increased ability to seek and find information, so to has the topic of every conversation to be traced. Voldemorting is the ultimate SEO-“dis”.

McCulloch wisely ponders, “What does it mean to be a human brain supplemented by the extended memory of internet search? This was a big question in the earlier days of the internet. Now, perhaps, we have an answer: It means that we can find things, but others can also find us. Cultural references that were once opaque are now easily cracked open for ingenious wordplay, and that same ingenious wordplay can restore a sense of local community by keeping our complaints within their intended audiences.”

SOURCE: https://www.wired.com/story/voldemorting-ultimate-seo-diss-resident-linguist/

Facebook mistakenly deleted some people’s Live videos

This time instead of exposing users’ data, a Facebook  bug erased it. A previously undisclosed Facebook glitch caused it to delete some users’ Live videos if they tried to post them to their Story and the News Feed after finishing their broadcast. Facebook wouldn’t say how many users or livestreams were impacted, but told the bug was intermittent and affected a minority of all Live videos. It’s since patched the bug and restored some of the videos, but is notifying some users with an apology that their Live videos have been deleted permanently.

The bug raises the question of whether Facebook is a reliable place to share and store our memories and important moments. In March, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told congress regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal that “We have a responsibility to protect your data – and if we can’t, then we don’t deserve to serve you.” Between that misappropriation of user biographical data, the recent breach that let hackers steal the access tokens that would let them take over 50 million Facebook accounts, wrongful changes to users’ default sharing privacy settings, and now this, some users may conclude Facebook in fact no longer deserves to serve them.

Facebook user Tommy Gabriel Sparandera provided TechCrunch with this screenshot showing the apology note from Facebook on his profile. It reads “Information About Your Live Videos: Due to a technical issue, one or more of your live videos may have been deleted from your timeline and couldn’t be restored. We understand how important your live videos can be and apologize that this happened.”

When TechCrunch asked Facebook about the issue, it confirmed the problem and provided this statement: ““We recently discovered a technical issue that removed live videos from some people’s Facebook Timelines. We have resolved this issue and restored many of these videos to people’s Timelines. People whose videos we were unable to restore will get a notification on Facebook. We know saving memories on Facebook is important to people, and we apologize for this error.”

Facebook made a huge push to own the concept of “going Live” in 2016 with TV commercials, billboards and more designed to overshadow competitors like Twitter’s Periscope. It eventually succeeded, with Periscope’s popularity fading while one in five Facebook videos became Live broadcasts. But in its blitz to win this market, it didn’t build adequate safety and moderation tools. That led to suicides and violence being livestreamed to audiences before Facebook’s content police could take down the videos.

Nowadays, most users don’t go live frequently unless they’re some kind of influencer, public figure, or journalist. When they do see something important transpiring, Facebook has positioned itself as the way to broadcast it. But if users can’t be sure Facebook will properly save those videos, it could persuade them it’s not worth becoming a camera man instead of a participant in life’s most interesting moments.

Why This is Hot:

Facebook has been under fire for privacy related issues, putting the platform’s data security into question. This latest issue furthers that narrative, leaving users constantly wondering what their next snafu will be.

 

WeRemit

Around 170,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong spend their days queuing, completing paperwork and paying substantial remittance fees to wire money home to families.

Chinese tech giant Tencent created a service to transfer money across borders using mobile payment technology.

Named WeRemit, the service exists as a function on Tencent’s WeChat, mainland China’s largest social media, messaging service and mobile payment app. Filipino users can transfer money to the Philippines in under 10 minutes, free of charge.

Filipino workers in Hong Kong, many of whom work as domestic helpers, can also use WeRemit for instant cash pick-up from 7-Eleven stores, bank deposits and mobile wallet transactions.

Why it’s Hot

The global remittance business moves more than $600bn around the world every year. The industry has become a strategic battleground for Asian tech giants seeking to disrupt a business that’s traditionally depended on a network of banks, convenience stores and pawnshops.

The Southeast Asian countries are an important market, with a growing population of 600m people, many of whom don’t have bank accounts. The Philippines is among the world’s most common destinations for money transfers, receiving $32.8bn in remittances in 2017, according to the World Bank.

 

Design will kill marketing, says Ikea’s former design chief

Marcus Engman is leaving Ikea to run a consultancy that convinces companies to spend their marketing budget on what matters: design.

For the past six years, Marcus Engman has successfully made Ikea weird.

As the company’s head of design, he spearheaded artistic collaborations on tropical furniture and L.A.-inspired skateboards to push the reserved Swedish furniture giant out of its minimalist comfort zone. But Engman recently left Ikea to start a company of his own called Skewed Productions, as a partner of the design firm Doberman. Think of Skewed as a hybrid of design studio and ad agency–its goal is to create marketing moments for companies through product design itself. Instead of spending money on ad buys, Engman wants to teach companies to market themselves through their design.

“I want to show there’s an alternative to marketing, which is actually design,” says Engman. “And if you work with design and communications in the right way, that would be the best kind of marketing, without buying media.”

Why this is hot?

Every industry is being disrupted and challenged by new entrants, philosophies, and breakthrough models. Design is making its way into the marketers territory and should be kept on everyone’s radar.

A dog treat that doubles up as a selfie stick

To promote its DentaStix product, Pedigree in New Zealand created SelfieStix – a smartphone clipper which can hold one treat. Dog owners simply have to clip the SelfieStix on their phones and attach a DentaStix to take the perfect selfie with their pup.

To support the SelfieStix clip, they also created a standalone app which, using machine vision technology, recognises dog faces and puts filters on them.

The agency reports that, so far, across social platforms, the project has reached over 2.1 million interactions, 3.5 million engagements and a 24% increase in sales. One quarter of New Zealand’s dog owners redeemed a SelfieSTIX, making acquisition cost 12 times lower than the industry standard.

Why its hot
The DentaStix was, in many markets, perceived as being quite a functional product as opposed to other dog treats on the market. DentaStix was the thing you gave your dog to keep their teeth clean. The brief was to change the perception of DentaStix from being this functional product to something that is equally irresistible for dogs.

Can’t go it alone: GM and Honda and the future of self-driving

Honda is helping GM on its mission to lead the quest towards a self-driving future. From WIRED: “In a deal announced today, the Japanese automaker will help San Francisco-based Cruise and its Detroit owner develop and mass produce a new sort vehicle for a world in which human drivers are no longer needed. Honda is opening its checkbook too, pledging to spend $2 billion on the project over 12 years, and immediately putting a $750 million equity investment into Cruise.

…For Honda, the partnership offers entree into a self-driving space where it has thus far spent little time and effort. For Cruise and GM, the newcomer adds engineering know-how as it moves to develop the self-driving car that will replace its current model, a modified Chevy Bolt EV.” Much of Honda’s engineering know-how will be of value for the interior design of the vehicles; once the driverless tech is ready, the ridership experience will hinge on the interior design of the vehicle, much like airplanes today.

WHY IT’S HOT:

In addition to being a somewhat a surprising global partnership, the joint venture between Honda and GM shows that to pioneer the future of driverless vehicles, you can’t go it alone. Strategic partnerships across financing, engineering, and manufacturing will become the norm in this race to the future, particularly due to the fact that no one knows how/when driverless will make money. This deal helps de-risk GM’s path to scale its operations into driverless with a partner that will help it execute long-term.

SOURCE: https://www.wired.com/story/honda-gm-cruise-self-driving-cars/

Birchbox and Walgreens Partner to Transform 11 Retail Locations

Today, the two companies announce that they’re joining forces. Birchbox will be taking over a big chunk of the floor space at 11 Walgreens locations over the next few months. In December, the first six stores will open in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis, and then in early 2019, five more stores will open in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Miami.

These new retail spaces–which range from 400 to 1,000 square feet–will look like mini Birchbox stores. Birchbox will curate full-sized skincare, makeup, and hair products from more than 40 brands. These are brands that Birchbox has incorporated into its subscription boxes in the past and has identified as customer favorites. The Birchbox-branded parts of the store will be beautifully designed with warm lighting, pops of color thanks to interesting wall paper, framed Birchboxes as artwork, and powder-room-inspired makeup stations.

Since 2016, the drugstore company has been investing more heavily in beauty, by bringing in new brands like NYX and No7, introducing a beauty loyalty program, and introducing 3500 beauty consultants into select stores. “We’ve been working on elevating and differentiating our beauty experience,” Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care at Walgreens. “We’re trying to give our customers a reason to shop beauty more often.”

While Birchbox is continuing to focus on its subscription box business, it will also be translating its core premise–making beauty discovery fun–into a physical store experience with this Walgreens partnership. There will be Birchbox-trained beauty consultants on hand to help guide the customer through the space and introduce them to new products. And there will even be a Birchbox-specific cash register, so the entire experience will feel separate from just going for a drugstore run.

“I think a big part of our realization at Birchbox–and this really resonated with the Walgreens team–was that there is a huge opportunity to serve the masses by allowing them to stay passive, but give them the same kind of pleasurable experience of someone who is beauty-obsessed,” Beauchamp says.

In keeping with Birchbox’s expertise in sampling, customers will also be able to build their own Birchboxes by selecting from jars of product samples. There will be feature tables where customers can check out new brands and products.”We continue to find over and over again that the little beauty sample is just really delightful,” she says. “The price point is so acceptable to everybody, and the samples kind of look like candy when they’re all sitting next to each other.”

Why it’s hot: This is a great example of a strategic partnership that benefits both brands — expanding Birchbox into new clientele and retail locations, and elevating Walgreens beauty offerings.

Source: FastCo

Kosher Bacon?

Rabbi Gavriel Price  is in charge of figuring out how the Orthodox Union, the largest kosher certifying organization in the world, should deal with what is known as clean meat. Clean meat is grown in laboratories from animal cells. This could mean a possibility for Jewish cuisine that had previously seemed impossible: kosher bacon.

Clean meat, also known as “cell-based agriculture,” begins with cells taken from an animal, often stem cells that are put into a solution that mimics blood and encourages the cells to replicate.

Mission Barns is the start-up in Berkeley focused on creating animal fat (where the distinctive flavor of meat comes from). They have created duck sausages, but duck breast or steak is expected to take much longer.

Why It’s Hot: Both environmentalists and animal activists are proponents of the technology because it could product the flavor of meat without animal suffering and greenhouse gases. Jewish authorities hope it will make kosher meat more affordable and reliable. Clean meat is not available in stores yet, but start-ups are currently working on it and say it could be available by next year. And when it is, they want a kosher stamp on their product, which indicates it adheres to quality and preparation standards and follows a set of biblical laws.

WeChat’s newest target: Filipino maid in Hong Kong

For the 170,000 and more Filipinos working in Hong Kong as domestic maids, WeChat developed an international money transfer function for them to instantly remit money back to their families in the Philippines. So instead of waiting in line to wire transfer money on Sunday, their only day off in the week, they can now complete the task with a few clicks on their phone.

It’s a brilliant move by WeChat as they have been struggling with expanding to other parts of Asia and to increase the usage of the app beyond its 600 million active users in Mainland China.

Additionally, as a destination that received $32.8 billion in remittances in 2017, Filipinos working overseas become a no-brainer target audience.

Why it’s hot: The benefit for WeChat is threefold: market expansion, increase in cash flow and boost in brand image for adding value to people’s lives.

Source

There’s a New Credit Card for People Without a Credit Score

Petal is a new company that provides credit cards to those who have not yet built up a traditional credit history. Instead, it uses data like how much money a person makes and spends in a month to determine what their credit limit should be. Petal Card_hires

One of the company’s co-founders, Jason Gross, explains that using a customer’s bank account history as a basis allows Petal to offer better credit limits that are often 10 times higher than competitors’ rates.

Annual Percentage Rates fall between the industry standard 14-25%, but the company has no fees of any kind, including late fees. Instead, the company generates money through interest payments and charging vendors when a customer uses their card.

Why It’s Hot: 

Younger people who don’t have a credit score yet finally have a credit card option that doesn’t penalize them with high rates and fees. As Gross has noted, this is especially important since this group is disproportionately made up of minorities and immigrants who often suffer without a credit score to help them qualify for financial products.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/02/petals-no-fee-credit-card-for-the-credit-score-less-is-now-open-to-the-public/ 

Video streaming is the top source of global internet traffic

Sandvine, a networking equipment company, just released the Global Internet Report 2018.

Key takeaways:

58% of the total downstream volume of traffic on the internet is VIDEO.

15% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire internet is Netflix.

19% of total downstream traffic in the US is Netflix. At peak hour, that number can spike to 40% on some operator networks in the US.

The social network rankings are interesting, because user population does not always translate to network usage. More video-heavy social networks are responsible for a greater share of global internet traffic. YouTube was not placed in this category because it would skew the results.

Why it’s hot: video content and video streaming are the future of the internet, at least in terms of its share of global internet traffic. This is true not just in North America, but around the world.