The Betterific Blog

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


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Owner vs Employee Mentality

Every business tries to teach its employees how to think like an owner.  So they create processes, systems, guides, trainings and incentives around it.  But there are just some things you can’t teach.

We are looking at use a survey platform for an upcoming project, and one of the requirements is somewhat abnormal.  We need to base the last question of the survey on the user’s generated answer to the previous question.

I reached out to two survey/form providers to see how we should approach this conundrum.

In one, I received a really welcoming, engaging, and helpful response, from a customer service representative.  You could tell the the representative wished they could help.  That he believes in his brand and that he believes that one day they will build a feature to solve my design challenge.  But at the end of the day the answer was, “No.”

The second email I received, from a different provider, explained to me that, although the tool wasn’t built to do that,  but if you ask the question in a different way, we could arrive at the outcome we were looking for.  Ultimately, she found a creative way to say yes.

That’s what owners do. They think outside the box, stretch boundaries and create new realities.

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Re imagining Gala Fundraising efforts

Partnering with Deloitte’s Pixel division, we worked with a Diabetes non-profit to dream up ways to rethink Gala Fundraising.

Gala fundraisers are always the same – you throw on a suit (or a tux if you’re fancy), eat fancy chicken by the bay, and participate in a silent auction.  How can we bring some innovation to this experience?  We crowdsourced ideas among Betterific’s design thinking community and sourced over 80 unique ideas in under a week.

Betterific’s crowdsourcing was one part of the overall research. Deloitte also interviewed employees of the non-profit, current donors and potential donors, and Diabetes patients.  They built personas to build empathy to set the stage of possibilities.  With that backdrop we hosted the fundraising gala innovation challenge on Betterific.

The biggest take-away was that fundraisers should be more experiential. Beyond the diabetes patient at the gala, how can we really bring both the non-profit, the cause and the patient stories to life?  Some suggested giving donors the experience of a diabetes patient – with apps or blood sugar check-ins.  Pop up shops, partnerships with startups, and education based events were also very popular.  The concept of owning the No-Sugar movement also intrigued the non-profit.

We hosted a brainstorming session with the non-profit to dig deep into the specific ideas, the themes and build on the concepts.  That is where the magic happens!  Using the Betterific community’s ideas as the lift-off point.

Congratulations to Lawrence Phipps, who won the challenge!  The Runners up prizes went to Lizabeth Barclay, Nuria Rovira Costas, Cheryl Noll, and Edward Drakhlis.  Their ideas are below!

Top idea:

the gala organizer partnered with an innovative manufacture of glucose monitoring devices (such as Verily, Dexcom, OneTouch or even Apple) to design an event experience that exposes all attendees to what it’s like to continuously monitor their blood sugar levels? For example, attendees could be tested before and after dinner. Or test results could be printed on their photobooth pictures.

Runner Ups:

at the gala participants were given a buzzer (like the ones you get when waiting for a table),or have them download a gala app. participants would be buzzed in order to understand aspects of diabetes…time to eat, time to test, etc. This would drive home the impact on the individual during a day.

the philanthropy had an app that donors could download for updates on the impact of gifts (research funding, patients seen, etc.)

before the Gala, there was a health challenge just for young people (under 25 or 30), focused on ideas for helping diabetes patients having a better life. A part of donors’ fundraising would be for developing that idea, and some donors would be chosen, in a draw, for being part of the jury. Similar to Ashoka Health challenge: goo.gl/w9BV2D

At the gala, not only financial commitment but time commitment would be sought? With the time commitment, the donor would call or email or post on social media the benefits of donating to this charity? Even a time commitment of 15 minutes per month could help others in their circle of influence to donate

A virtual-reality booth was set up at the gala to experience some of the symptoms of diabetes? Ie. high sugar, low sugar, retinopathy (eye problems)

Partnerships with large sports organizations (the way that Breast Cancer Awareness partners with the NFL) would promote awareness to a large audience at regular intervals over extended periods of the year. Under Armour owns the fitness tracking app My Fitness Pal and already has a sponsorship relationship with multiple sports organizations. Developing a relationship with Under Armour could allow the non-profit access to both the users of their fitness app, as well as sports fans. These would be perfect platforms for raising awareness and spreading the organization’s mission, long term.

non-profits engaged donors with more transparency and allowed them choose exactly how their donation was used? With a registry/wish-list style directory donors can choose what they want to contribute to the organization. There could be a list of what is needed to accomplish the non-profit’s mission like lab equipment, new research facility, drug manufacturing, and even general administration if someone doesn’t want to choose. This can get as granular as needed so people feel like they contributed something meaningful and know exactly what it was. Those people should be acknowledged in some way depending on what they contributed.

Money could be loaned at 0%!interest if donors would prefer? The non-profit could either use those funds instead of borrowing money from the bank, therefore saving the interest that would be paid or if not needed, put in a CD and collect the interest?


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How a (crowdsourced) idea becomes a product

Sterilite launches crowdsourced product

Sterilite, the industry leading manufacturer of plastic storage containers, launched their first ever crowdsourced product idea to the marketplace.  

Their “fresh scent” line of products includes a ventilating compartment to keep clothes smelling fresh during storage. The idea, to keep clothes smelling good while being stored, was generated by Keonte Smith in a Betterific innovation challenge.

For the crowdsourcing community this is a huge breakthrough.  No doubt you’ve heard of other crowdsourcing campaigns, like the 1995 campaign to choose M&M’s new color.  But that campaign, and other ideation campaigns like it, didn’t require any creative problem solving.  It’s more of a marketing play.  

We’re going to explore they whys and the hows.  Why did Rich Ahern, VP of marketing and product development, from Sterilite pursue a crowdsourcing path to product development? What was the process from idea>concept>validation>testing>launch.  How did he turn this idea into a reality?  

Why crowdsource?

Sterilite is the industry leader in a mature vertical.  New products come out a couple times a year and retailers are constantly looking to Sterilite for their next big thing.  For Rich and his team, one of the biggest challenges is coming up with brand new ideas. To gather new ideas, his team traditionally holds brainstorms, listens to end users and talks with cross functional teams.  And they are relatively successfully at that process. But Rich and his team wanted to go out to the crowd, to generate new ideas within a group of qualified ideators outside the four walls of Sterilite.  Because sometimes the ideas get stale in your own organization.

 

The Innovation Challenge – how and why it was constructed

The Betterific team and Rich worked on an innovation challenge that would lead to brand new ideas, to fill the pipeline of unique concepts to drive an exciting assortment of possibilities at retail.

Rich chose from the outset to keep the innovation challenge wide open, focusing on the product category, with no constraints except for a focus on analog solutions.  This was an interesting decision from the outset, as most of Betterific’s clients give a rigid set of guidelines to try and direct Betterific’s design thinking member base.  It ended up being a great move on Rich’s part.  Primarily because he and his team were open-minded and willing to look at any idea that was unique and had mass-market potential.  

The innovation challenge that was posed to the Betterific audience was:  “My storage bins would be better if…How would you make the plastic storage and organization bins in your home more useful? Think about all the possible storage places and spaces in your home while considering function, aesthetic, and ease of use.”  The incentive was $400 for the top idea.  It lasted 1.5 weeks. 146 ideas were generated.

Lots of great ideas were submitted.  The idea that led to the breakthrough was simple and ingenius:

Keonte Smith: “Wouldn’t it be better if there was a pocket inside to allow scented sheets to help keep clothing items smelling fresh.”

Evaluating and Prioritizing ideas

Sterilite’s main criteria for evaluating the ideas was, is the function easy to understand and desirable enough for the end-user to stand out in the crowd.  In hindsight, it would’ve been good to bake the criteria in the innovation challenge.  And moving forward, Betterific now tries to include that in all its innovation challenges.  

They brought together marketing and product development to evaluate the ideas. Each member of the cross functional team was invited onto the Betterific platform to vote for and comment on their favorite ideas.  That team has a deep knowledge of manufacturing capabilities, so they were able to evaluate ideas based on feasibility, as well as customer need and uniqueness. The group of about 12 then discussed those subset of ideas, in detail, during a few meetings.

The fresh-scented idea was unique and immediately generated that “A-ha” moment.  The cross-functional team selected around 10 ideas to get tested, but this was the fan favorite.  From Betterific’s experience, this is rare. Ideas don’t usually live in a vacuum – but rather require massaging, refinement and the bringing together of disparate ideas to create concepts.  In this case the idea was pretty self explanatory and stood on its own.  

Their designers then sketched out the selected ideas, which allowed them to dig deeper in their evaluation meetings.  They used these meetings to brainstorm around how to make the ideas, or adjacent ideas, a reality.  

An interesting insight Rich shared is that after the first round of selection, they try not to weigh in on whether an idea will work or not. They let the market and retailers decide.  Even in their product executive committee, which is comprised of the senior leadership, they are pretty lenient with which ideas should be tested and reserve judgement until people outside the company have given feedback.  

Hats off to Sterilite for that approach.  It is an extremely user-centric approach – to begin with crowdsourcing and then reserve judgement until the retailers and end-users interact with the product is a great testament to why this was a successful project.  That approach reflects a design-thinking methodology.

 

Testing, validating and Roll Out

Sterilite does not have a formal relationship with its end users, as it distributes its product exclusively to retailers who then sell it to the end-user.  But over the years it has created a powerful end-user community to test and validate concepts.  This batch of sketched up ideas was placed in the community, where they have clear benchmarks from previous tests.  The fresh-scented idea scored well and continued on to retailers.

When Rich and his team met with retailers, they showed a number of sketched out concepts, from the Betterific community and internal brainstorms.  When presenting the concepts, they included data from their testing and their expert opinions.  The Betterific community was used as a data point in the positive – the fact that it was crowdsourced was certainly a positive but the product had to be strong on its own.  

This idea was chosen by all of their top retailers to be rolled out!

All in all, the product took about 1.5 years, from idea-concept-selection-manufacturing-store shelves.  

 
Betterific is a platform to connect brainstormers and ideators with brands to help co-create new products. To join the community, www.betterific.com. To sponsor an innovation challenge: http://innovation.betterific.com


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Credit Card Innovation – What themes emerged, what were our member’s great ideas?!

We just wrapped up a fascinating private innovation challenge around ways credit card companies can WOW their cardholders.

(We updated this blog post to include our winners!)

Over 190 unique ideas were submitted.  Which was way over our estimates!  Thanks for participating.  Since we just returned from the credit card company, we thought we’d report back some of the findings.

The most interesting theme that popped up was around subscription services – and how credit card companies can help surface them, manage them and make it easier to end them.

Another interesting area of interest was around how to make it easier for small businesses to easily track and manage expenses.  And with AI on its way, people were looking for ways the credit card company could bring AI into product recommendations, savings and notifications.

So what’s the next step for the brand?  Concept development.  Which requires some massaging from the first phase of idea generation.  Taking a step back – surfacing themes, pairing ideas together, combining ideas and coming up with new ideas.  Understanding the need states of card holders and matching them up with the ideas (and brainstorming new ones when necessary).  And looking at ideas that can have the largest impact.

The overriding question they’ll be asking is – Will a cardholder switch over for this benefit?  Or, how can we combine a few ideas to make this a “must-have” benefit.

The next phase will be concept validation.  Then testing and roll out.

Thanks for participating!  We hope this was helpful and shed some lights on “the day after the challenge.”

Congratulations to our innovation challenge winners!  The grand prize winner is Dennis Pitcock!  Runner Ups were: Eric Cronert, Karen Hold, Luc Michaud, Luke Bornheimer and Thomas Williams.


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Credit Card Innovation Challenge

We just launched a new crowdsourcing innovation challenge with a financial institution to help dream up brilliant new ideas for a credit card company to wow its cardholders.

What’s your idea? http://credit.betterific.com

Already close to 150 ideas.  Lots of creativity brewing.  Sometimes you just need to engage your stakeholders! Kudos to this brand for going out to the crowd, to our memberbase of design thinkers, idea enthusiasts and brainstormers.


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New Innovation products we’re working on

Betterific Nation,

Just wanted to give you a bit of a sneak peak on a new innovation product we’re working on.

The Betterific platform helps brands co-create new concepts with our memberbase of design thinkers and ideation enthusiasts.  Our first product was our ideation and brainstorming product, which connects our members with each other over new and innovative ideas.  We then added a layer on top – the innovation challenge, where brands can sponsor ideation sessions.  Our second product was concept refinement.  We added an illustrator to the team and are helping bring the ideas to life.  These concepts are sketched up and then brought to the Betterific community for refinement.  Along the way, we’ve added design thinking services, to help brands better navigate the process and guide them through the user-centered approach to launching new products and services.

Brands have continued to ask us a simple question – once the ideas are generated, where/how can I collaborate with my team over the evaluation and execution of these ideas?  We’ve spent the last three months thinking through, prototyping, co-creating with our customers, and building a place for this collaboration to happen.  We call it Workflow.  See below for some screenshots.  We’d love your feedback.  Our goal is to roll this out by the end of May.  Thanks!

 

In this dynamic screenshot, we show the main list view.  Purpose =Make sense of all the ideas, by adding themes, and move them through  the innovation process by assigning statuses.  Routing of ideas

The purpose of this stage is to quickly evaluate ideas – each company can change the criteria to whatever they like, but the concept is the same.  Collaboratively evaluate the feasibility (cost, difficulty…) and impact of an idea, and flag your favorites, so you can determine as a team which ideas should move through.

Quick Evaluations

For a more in depth view of an idea, you click into the idea page itself.  Each expert invited to evaluate the idea can rate the idea, add their own notes and collaborate in the private comments section.  Any individual can then click through the evaluations to see both aggregate and criteria-level evaluations.

Idea Page


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ARF’s 2017 Innovators A-List

We’re pleased to announce that we were just selected to the Advertising Research Foundation’s 2017 list of innovators. They look for startups who are helping marketers and advertisers innovate in their field.

As a startup that connects brands with consumers to help dream up new products, marketing campaigns and services, we are a perfect match.

We’re exhibiting at the ARF Annual Conference in NYC today and tomorrow.  If you’re at the conference, let us know and reach out!