Welcome to the second part of our new “Brainstorming with…” series, where we interview two sets of people – the innovation challenge winners and the product developers and innovation experts that sponsor the challenges. From the winners, we learn brainstorming tips, how they arrived at their winning ideas, and the inspiration they use. From the brands we get insights into how Betterific fits into the greater innovation process, what they look for in ideas, and what happens next. If you like generating new ideas, flexing your idea muscle, and learning what makes a great idea, this brainstorming blog series is for you. You can check out our first Brainstorming with a winner edition, where we interviewed Dan Pick
We invited Rich Ahern, a VP of Marketing at Sterilite with a heavy focus on product development and innovation, to be our first interview. I got to meet Richard a year back and we’ve built a great relationship – I’ve learned a tremendous about a whole bunch of topics, including what a spiralizer is. And most importantly I’ve learned about the end-to-end cycle of product development. Sterilite owns their manufacturing plants, so they are responsible for everything from idea thru delivery. Because of that they must think on a grander scale – if the product can’t make a dent, they can’t produce it. Read on below to learn more about why Richard and his team continue to tap into the Betterific community and how having an open mind is the most important aspect of brainstorming. P.S. Him and his team are running a new Innovation Challenge next week… Stay tuned!
MW: Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t know from your resume. Richard Ahern (RA): I was standing at the finish line with my family waiting for my wife to finish the Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded. I am not a runner but I was inspired to run it with my wife the following year. I have to confess that I have not run since then.
MW: What are you working on that really excites you? RA: I am a product junkie so working with new products everyday as part of my job is exciting.
MW: How do you ensure that internal brainstorms lead to positive outcomes? RA: Good ideas can come from anywhere or anybody but you have to be open to them and unbiased.
MW: Walk us through “how an idea becomes a product.” RA: Betterific helps us at Sterilite by generating new thoughts on plastic Storage and Household items that we would not arrive at by ourselves. We take those thoughts and translate them into new product ideas that are vetted with a group of Sterilite consumers along with our own experiences.
MW: What impressed you most about the Betterific member base of creatives? RA: Anyone can tell you why a product is bad. But we come to Betterific to discover how to make better products. There is a positive energy that is contagious every time we do a project with Betterific. The members really love helping companies create new and innovative ideas.
MW: In 5 years, what will be radically different about the storage industry and what might remain the same? RA: The Plastic Storage and Household category is very much a commodity business where items like a shoe box need to sell for $1.00 at retail. However, incremental innovations can make a big difference in new product growth. For example if a more durable yet still cost effective clear polypropylene is developed it would help to create new product categories and increase the potential end uses for plastic Storage and Household items.