The Betterific Blog

Connecting consumers with brands to crowdsource and innovate on product ideas.

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Betterific’s Top Weekly Ideas

Hey everybody! This past week has been pretty good in terms of ideas, and we’ve got five really good ones for this week’s Top Ideas blog post. Stay tuned for more ideas coming next week and remember, stay innovative people.

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Solomon Choi and the 16 Handles Meet-up

Betterific is all about entrepreneurship and innovation, and last night’s meet-up at the 16 Handles frozen yogurt shop in SoHo, New York encapsulated those qualities perfectly. In a party space behind the hustle and bustle of the store, 16 Handles CEO Solomon Choi hosted a riveting roundtable-like discussion about his story and the importance of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Coming on the heels of the 16 Handles Betterific campaign, which generated numerous concepts and suggestions, it was also a great opportunity for Betterific users to meet face-to-face in the first of hopefully many more events, and obviously great ideas were discussed and exchanged.


Choi’s story begins as a child in southern California. Inspired by both the plethora of ice cream flavors at Baskin Robbins and the small, mom-and-pop-shop froyo stop that he worked at for a while, Choi mustered up the confidence to attract investors (his family and friends) and make the bold move to New York to start what would become a successful enterprise. After ceaselessly searching for a possible retail location, Choi opened his first shop in New York’s East Village, an area of the city with a high college student population, and within a few blocks of numerous competitors. Going up against such big names as Red Mango and Pinkberry, Choi developed his business with a level of determination and entrepreneurial spirit that has lead him to success; with dozens of stores around the Northeast and hundreds more opening around the world in years to come, 16 Handles has truly grown to become a very prosperous venture.

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The event, co-sponsored by Betterific, is part of a new emphasis on bringing together Betterific users and entrepreneurs to allow for innovation and growth. Part of the meet-up last night entailed the exchange and discussion of ideas, ranging from visual designs from Betterific’s own Tova Silverman to the suggestion to include cup dividers, allowing consumers to separate their froyo flavors (an idea currently in development), and from 16 Handles merchandise to Choco Taco like options. It also gave Solomon an opportunity to test some of his own innovative ideas, such as the inclusion of real fruit smoothies to the 16 Handles menu. Another idea came in the form of an all-natural fruit based “butter,” in apple or pumpkin flavors, to be used as toppings for autumnal flavors. All in all, it was a great night for both Betterific and 16 Handles. Many thanks to 16 Handles and Solomon Choi for hosting the event, and to Lara Nictora who coordinated the Betterific campaign and the event. To the people who attended, thank you for coming and we hope you enjoyed it, it was a great night and we look forward to many more!

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The Weekly Top Ten Betterific Ideas

We’ve been a little busy at Betterific this past week, so we’re running a little behind on a few things, one of which is the Weekly Top Ten Ideas from this past week (May 5th). But we certainly didn’t want to skip any of these fantastic and unique ideas. Stay tuned for more great ideas and upcoming campaigns!

Wouldn't it be better if #GoogleMaps and #Waze had a way to mark a route impassable during a weather emergency?

Wouldn't it be better if phone makers developed technology that allowed you to have two phones near each other sync up when playing a song, so that you can get a louder speaker effect?

Wouldn't it be better if the Nats used a t-shirt cannon, instead of just throwing the t-shirts. And style it like a Revolutionary War cannon, let George fire it!

Wouldn't it be better if subways provided hand sanitizer dispensers (government provided or private sector provided) while exiting the train station?

Wouldn't it be better if using Netflix, you can socially share a movie or TV show directly with friends via email, Facebook, or Twitter after viewing?

Wouldn't it be better if Seamless Delivery offered free refrigerator shelf labels for roommates to split up their fridge. If they were branded Seamless, I would be reminded to just order dinner instead of just looking at my fridge.

Wouldn't it be better if rechargeable batteries could tell you when they just can't hold a charge anymore?

Wouldn't it be better if there were an appliance that could be placed in a toilet that analyzed the contents of one's poop and pee and sent the results to one's cellphone or otherwise displayed the results.

Wouldn't it be better if curbside recycling bins had little baskets you could hook on for disposing of batteries and prescription medication.Wouldn't it be better if Starbucks (or any coffee/fast casual shop) gave discounts to people who came into their locations with their bike helmets, during national bike to work day (5/16/2014)!

Happy innovating!

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3 Amazing Crowdsourcing Examples

Crowdsourcing certainly is quite the buzzword these days, but it still has a long way to go in gaining much serious traction with the average company or corporation as far as a marketing or product development tool goes. You probably know that lots of people use crowdsourcing and it is changing the way things are done in various different industries, most notably investments. But even still you might ask, how exactly is crowdsourcing useful? Oh boy. There are just so many ways.  The best way to answer this question is probably through a list of examples and a short little summary at the end. We promise to keep this list super fun and interesting though, not your usual run of the mill “top 3 crowdsourcing examples” list. What do you think? Good. Betterific likes that idea too.

Ancient history – Mars M&M’s runs their new color campaign in 1995 – Engaging your customer base and mega awareness

If you are at least 30, you probably remember this commercial:

That commercial had me running to a pay-phone (a what?) every 15 minutes to vote for my favorite color when I was in middle school. It was soooooo cool. In 1995, Mars ran this campaign to replace the old tan colored m&m candies (who actually remembers the tan colored m&m’s anymore?) and the world changed forever. Well, perhaps the candy world did. But, let’s just give this a moment’s consideration before we write this example off as just a lark. As you can see the M&M commercial hits a nerve in the American conscience… a democratic nerve. The election booth, the call to change the world through casting a vote, the question to think about what’s “best” for the future… quite an interesting marketing tactic don’t you think?  Strangely enough, this ad came out a time when American voters had reached an all-time apathetic high. In the 1994 mid-term election year only 38.8% of the voting age population turned up to cast a ballot. Mid-term election voter turnout had been hovering in this range since 1974 and even the presidential election voter turnout hovered between 49%-55%. So why on earth did Mars choose this particular marketing tactic? The secret became the saving grace of the producers of American Idol and every other voting based program in the last decade…

In the realm of candy, who is your most avid supporter? Who is your target market? Children! Clearly candy is extremely relevant to a child’s daily concerns, so when Mars Incorporated ran this campaign they really capitalized on engaging with their target consumer. Although no official numbers were ever published by Mars listing the effects of the marketing campaign on their sales, some figures estimated that the total number of votes received for the campaign topped 10 million. That’s right… 10 MILLION votes. We could barely get together a crowd big enough to help us decide the fate of our country, but all be damned if we’d be stuck with pink m&m’s forever. Apparently an actual faction of tan colored m&m supporters also developed as a result of this campaign… thank god that party never got off the ground.

Blue won in the end with over 50% of the vote and as a result, here in the U.S. the Empire State Building got lit up in blue and in Australia the very popular Carlton Football Club donned pale blue guernseys for the first time in its history. The result? One marketing textbook says Mars, Inc. got “millions” in free publicity and that the campaign “certainly” added to the brand’s awareness level. This is just one way in which crowdsourcing creates huge advantages for those who engage in it.

Even more ancient history – The Longitude Prize of 1714 – Finding solutions in unexpected places

The Sicily Naval Disaster of 1707

The Scilly naval disaster of 1707 in which 1400 sailors died, prompted the British government to implement a huge prize for a way to correctly measure longitude.

Back in the day, we traveled around the world in wooden ships with just a compass. Compared to a lot of the risks involved in life today, the risk involved in undertaking a sea voyage was considerable. Simply put, there was absolutely no way of knowing whether or not you would make it anywhere close to where you were attempting to go when taking off on a sea voyage. (Imagine, a world with no GPS, again if you’re 30 or older, you might remember a time like this…) This led to a lot of lost lives and money. In 1714, the British government established the Act of Longitude which formed the Board of Longitude and a considerable prize (20,000 pounds) for the individual who could determine an accurate way of calculating longitude.

Keep in mind that this was a problem that Isaac Newton, Edmond Halley, Christiaan Huygens, and Giovanni Domenico Cassini (all extremely influential scientists of the period) had failed to solve in a meaningful way. It took quite some time but a reasonable, although not perfect, solution was found, by a non-scientist. John Harrison was a self-educated carpenter and clockmaker who invented the marine chronometer, essentially a special sort of clock that allowed one to measure the difference in time between two geographic locations (Greenwich, England and wherever the ship was). Although the device did not offer a perfect solution to the problem, it was a huge step forward in the advancement of the technology needed to solve the problem. Not to mention the fact that Harrison became the underdog who toppled all the high-falutin’ scientists of the era… we like that part. Harrison was eventually rewarded 15,000 pounds for his invention.

The fact is that if the British government had not offered an incentive for someone to attempt to solve the problem, it is uncertain how long it would have taken for someone to invent the needed technology that ended up speeding along the colonization of the western hemisphere. You never know where that magical solution might come from unless you ask the crowd. 

Modern answer to a centuries old question – Mysterious and illegible margin notes in Homer’s Odyssey – Oodles of press and validation

1504 Edition of Homer's Odyssey

What it really says, “Odysseus, you’re such a γόον.”

This 1504 Venetian edition of Homer’s Odyssey was donated to University of Chicago in 2007 by M.C. Lang. Mr. Lang knew that these mysterious notes were only on a few pages of the book and appeared to be written in some strange shorthand, possibly French. (Hmm… should of paid more attention in French class). But neither he nor anyone at University of Chicago knew what it was or how to figure out what the heck it said, let alone who might have written it. Now, in the greater scheme of things it’s a rather unimportant question, but it is one of those things that stares you in the face taunting you with your own ignorance… really annoyingly. So, on April 28th 2014, University of Chicago made an announcement on NBC stating that a $1000 prize would be offered for the person or persons able to decipher the writing. Just 6 days later they had an answer. That’s right, this unknown writing which had been on the pages for, oh, close to 200 years was suddenly no longer an itch the academic world couldn’t scratch.

The outcome? An Italian computer engineer, Daniele Metilli, and his colleague Giulia Accetta were apparently the perfect pair with the perfect set of knowledge and skills to find the answer. Daniele is a digital humanities student and was able to search vast archives of information to find similar scripts and shorthand versions to those on the page within hours and Giulia is an Italian stenographer fluent in French. So as it turns out Lang’s hunch was correct, it was an 18th century form of shorthand created by a Frenchman. It turns out that the writings are mostly translations of the greek text itself into French, only not written in straightforward French, but crazy cryptic shorthand French (go figure). But the mystery remains of who wrote them. Needless to say, University of Chicago has gotten a huge amount of press as a result and lots of street cred in the academic world for (inadvertently) showing how helpful technology can be in a world that typically reveres dusty bookshelves and old school library catalogs. The crowd just might change the way you do things while simultaneously validating what you thought you knew. 

There’s lots more where that came from

We hope you have enjoyed this list of crowdsourcing examples. Clearly there are quite a few more, especially from the “contemporary age.” Pepsi crowdsources superbowl ads, a crowdsourced GPS app called Waze might just oust Google Maps, and Amazon might be changing the face of outsourcing through its MTurk program. The fact is, crowdsourcing rocks and that’s why we do it at Betterific.

Happy innovating!

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16 Handles Betterific Challenge – Winners Announced!

Um, that looks delicious...  (Image by Justine on the blog Hoboken Girl)

Um, that looks delicious… (Image by Justine on the blog Hoboken Girl)

Betterific has had a busy April, running both the 16 Handles and Coke/McDonald’s Challenges, not to mention the current Washington Nationals campaign that has been running since April 25th and will end on May 5th, 2014 at 3pm (there’s still time to give the Nats your best ideas)! Needless to say, the Betterific team really enjoyed working with 16 Handles on their customer experience campaign. We had a great time talking with their team during the set-up of the campaign and we are excited to help such a young and inspiring new company, headed by their amazing CEO Solomon Choi. We also hope to follow-up with 16 Handles several weeks from now to do a case study on their campaign, find out what worked for them and what didn’t and to come up with a better idea of best practices to implement when companies crowdsource for product development and marketing. While we always enjoy the process of seeing what ideas come about when people start brainstorming for companies, coming up with new and creative ways for making the frozen yogurt experience better was certainly a lot of fun and it’s a good thing frozen yogurt is healthy because there were definitely some serious cravings happening as a result of intense fro-yo idea generation.

Now, back to the winners! The campaign ran from April 8th to April 18th during which time Betterific members were able to post their ideas on the site for how to make the 16 Handles customer experience better.  111 ideas were submitted with the top themes identified in creative marketing, special events, community involvement, new products and fro-yo accessories. The grand prize winner would receive free frozen yogurt for a year and 5 runner-up winners would each receive a $25 16 Handles gift card. In addition, all winners were to be given the chance to meet face-to-face with CEO Solomon Choi to discuss their ideas and their passion for frozen yogurt.

Our grand prize winner was Sara Levin and our 5 runner-up winners were Luke Bornheimer, Tovah Silbermann, Ashley Smith, Ari Polsky, and Diane Lipson. Below are a few of our favorite ideas posted by the winners. (Please note that these ideas are not necessarily the ideas that were selected by 16 Handles for implementation.)

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles sold reusable plastic cups that you could buy then reuse at the store and get a discount.

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had a blending machine that allowed customers to blend their yogurt and toppings into a Blizzard-type concoction?

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had suggested recipe guides by the fro-yo counter (Example: S'mores Ice Cream Cup -Graham Cracker Yogurt, topped with hot fudge and marshmallows).

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had a froyo sandwich (ice cream sandwich) station

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles had a starbucks style membership system/gold card.

Wouldn't it be better if 16 Handles sold thin pieces of chocolate that could serve as cup dividers so your flavors don't mix together?

Ok, we’re going to get some fro-yo… Happy innovating!

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The Coke/McDonald’s Challenge on Betterific – Winners Announced!


The winners of Betterific’s Coke/McDonald’s Challenge have been announced! The competition was fierce and all the ideas were amazing. We honestly have to say this was one of the best challenges we’ve run on Betterific and we are very happy with the results. Just to recap, Betterific members were asked to brainstorm innovative and creative ways to make the Coca-Cola experience at McDonald’s better. From April 8th to April 18th Betterific members posted their ideas on new products, new services, and interesting marketing campaigns. One grand prize winner was to be selected for a $500 gift card and 5 runner-up winners would each receive a  $50 McDonald’s gift card.

Over the course of 10 days, 125 ideas were submitted (35% of which were shared to Facebook and Twitter). Several themes were identified amongst all the ideas that were submitted including: new menu inspirations, beverage accessories, healthy options, vintage experiences, loyalty and customization.

Our grand prize winner was Metro Power Yoga (she’s got 260 lifetime betterifs!), and our 5 runner-up winners were Ann Murtha, Benjamin Shirazi, Tony Busko, Kelly Williams, and Jordy Clements.

Here a few of the ideas that we liked which our various winners posted during the challenge. (Please note that these ideas are not necessarily those ideas that were selected by Coke or McDonald’s for implementation.)

Wouldn't it be better if you could make your own coke infusions at McDonald's when you ordered a coke by adding syrups like almond or raspberry or coconut...

Wouldn't it be better if Coca-cola/McDonald's had frozen coca-cola (and Diet Coke and Cherry Coke) during the summer?

Wouldn't it be better if Coke/McDonald's had incentives to recycle or reuse your cup. $.50 refills.Wouldn't it be better if Coca-cola/McDonald's came out with a slow-cooked Cola-Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich? With or without coleslaw on top! Delicious summertime fun!

Wouldn't it be better if Coke would use pure cane sugar and avoidusing high fructose corn syrup in their drinks.

Wouldn't it be better if McDonald's offered a healthy value meal that paired a salad with Coca-Cola's Odwalla juices.

Thanks to all our Betterific members for being such great innovators!