The Betterific Blog

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


Winners Announced for the Nature Conservancy Brainstorm Challenge


We’re pleased to announce the winners of The Nature Conservancy’s Demarcate the Lake innovation challenge.  Out of 80 ideas submitted, 25 were considered “unique and actionable.”  That’s a 31% quality rating!  Amazing.  Because of the scientific nature of this challenge, we were worried that the Betterific community would not be suited for the challenge.  Boy were we proven wrong.

When we run non-consumer oriented challenges, we always supplement the Betterific solvers by recruiting solvers with specific skillsets.  Fun fact: 40% of the unique and actionable solutions were provided by the original Betterific members, and 60% by the newer members of the community.

If you’re interested in the process: Over a 6 week period, 80 ideas were submitted.  TNC and Sensis Challenges did the first review of the ideas – each idea was either Dead or Alive.  We then invited five judges, a mix of subject matter experts and field operators, to bring that number down to 10.  The third and final round involved all five judges discussing the merits of the top 10 ideas.

The themes that emerged were tech-enabled buoys, mobile apps, solar and GPS solutions, and aeronautic solutions.  The final solution will likely take elements of the top ideas.

The Grand Prize goes to Kashyap G, who submitted the top idea using a mix of RFID and small ocean-based buoys linked through steel cable and glow in the dark paint.  In short: The buoys’ RFID and Bell system are powered by a cable running through the connections all the way to the M.M.N.P at either end where there is a solar panel array and battery pack.

As the grand prize winner, Kashyap wins $800 and bragging rights!  Here’s an image he put together.


The runners up were:

M SarkarDonna LeGoo, Grace Charles, Sylvia Busby

Congrats to The Nature Conservancy and all participants in a successful crowdsourcing challenge.

Leave a comment

Demarcate the Lake Innovation Challenge


Imagine you are a local fisher fishing just outside the 1.6 km (1 mi) boundary of the national park waters. The wind is blowing, the waves are rough, and it is nighttime. The park rangers approach by speedboat. The rangers say you are inside the park boundary. You say you were outside the boundary. How do we determine who is right?

This is the innovation challenge we just launched with Sensis Challenges and The Nature Conservancy.

We’re excited about it for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, we’re working together to help the environment.  We are solving a problem that plagues Lake Tanganyika, which is one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the world.  It is home to some of the most unique fish species on Earth.  And our solution will help  protect this global gem and protect this natural habitat.

On a selfish level, we’re excited because this is the first challenge we’ve hosted that skews scientific.  We were a little apprehensive – our bread and butter is consumer product creation, naming, apps, and flavor profiles.  Our concern was that our community wasn’t the right profile.  That it’s out of our comfort zone.  But, on the other hand, we were open to expanding our horizons.  We also knew that regardless of scientific background, our community is good at thinking outside the cage.

We coupled that with the knowledge that we are partnering with Sensis Challenge, whose expertise is in recruiting specialized solvers.  They’ve done a phenomenal job of supplementing our solver community with new skillsets. 1-lower-res

How have we done?  Great.  Our community has stepped up and provided insightful, thoughtful, solutions.  The new solvers have jumped right into the community and had an immediate impact.  The Nature Conservancy has been impressed with the quality of submissions – we can’t comment on any winners yet because the judges haven’t started evaluating.  66 ideas have been posted and we’ve got another 3 weeks left.  Jump in and submit your own ideas.


Leave a comment

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:

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?

Leave a comment

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, To sponsor an innovation challenge:

Leave a comment

Brainstorming with Innovator Dan Pick


When you win a Betterific crowdourced innovation challenge you get a number of perks – the prize winnings, the bragging rights, and access to the bully pulpit!  We want to make you famous for your creativity.  When you win a challenge, you embody what Robert F Kennedy said: “Some men see things as they are and ask why.  I dream things that never were and ask why not.”

This is the first in our “Brainstorming with…” series.  We’re excited to have Dan Pick, who’s been a member of Betterific since we first started.  Dan is an ideator in the true sense of the word – he’s submitted hundreds  of ideas, has participated in countless challenges and has won his fair share.  Below is an interview we had with Dan, where we ask him about his techniques, some insight into how he brainstorms, and for some suggestions on how to make Betterific even better!  Dan has a really interesting perspective on ideation and gives us a window into his futuristic concepts.

Dan won our Hyundai Innovation Challenge.  Dan is a Manager in North Highland’s Strategy Division.  We’re lucky to count him as a member of the Betterific community.  To join the Betterific community, head over to our site and sign up!  It’s a great way to flex your idea muscles.  (Below is the slightly edited post).

Winner picture oneMW: What do you when you’re not brainstorming on Betterific?  Daniel E Pick (DEP) : I like to tinker with an Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Also, currently training for a half marathon!

MW: Tell us something about you that we wouldn’t know from your resume. DEP: I’m teaching myself data science skills, and will try to find applications to help non-profits, my company (better understand the needs of the customer) and myself.

MW: What are you working on that really excites you? DEP: Working with the Arduino is probably the most exciting, because I’ve completed projects more easily and in much less time than similar projects in electrical engineering classes in college.  

MW: Betterific members are ideas people!  If you’re open to it, what BIG idea are you thinking about/sitting on?  DEP: I’m somewhat of a futurist, exploring how weak signals present today will manifest in 10-20 years. One idea, which is probably much closer to reality than 10 years out, is combining virtual reality and augmented reality with a haptic suit to compliment travel and most activities. You could “climb” Kilimanjaro, “play” soccer with friends scattered around the country/world, have a first person immersion into a historical event, attend a virtual work meeting and/or work remotely but have the sensations of being co-located with your colleagues.Winner picture two

MW: When you get an invitation to join a Betterific innovation challenge, how do you approach the challenge?  Do you sketch out some ideas on paper?  Do you go the page to get inspired by other people’s ideas?  Any good techniques you want to share? DEP: My goal is to first jot down as many ideas as possible from top of mind. Then, I put them aside and envision myself using the product/service. I think about what ideas could be quick fixes, as well as some “pie in the sky” ideas. Sometimes, Betterific users prefer the grandiose ideas, but those are harder and more expensive to implement. So, I try to include some easier ideas to help the company that launched the campaign (even if those ideas don’t get a lot of votes). Finally, I review ideas from other users. That sometimes gives me more inspiration. All of this occurs over a few days. Then, I pause for a few days and typically try to return for another brainstorming session.

MW: Where do your “good ideas come from?” DEP: I don’t think that I have better ideas than others, per se. I just focus on generating a lot of ideas, and some good ones typically result. Here’s a fun fact – Mozart composed 600 pieces of music, Beethoven created 650, and Bach had more than 1000. Of course, only a small number of them became hits.

MW: If you were CEO of Betterific for a day, what would you improve about the platform? DEP: Three Suggestions: Have users submit their own campaign suggestions for one week. The top idea could either be selected by the Betterific team or through votes from the Betterific community. Then, for one week, Betterific users could submit ideas to solve that particular problem. Two: The site needs to include an easier way to aggregate the betterifs. Within a challenge, I can see who the thought leaders are. I should be able to click the number next to their name and view their betterifs just for the challenge. In addition, the top-voted ideas should be at the top of the feed, regardless of the date they were submitted. Then, it would be easier to find the top-voted ideas. Three: It would be better if there was follow-up to the challenges. Which ideas did the company like? Do they have any feedback about the campaign? Are there opportunities for Betterific users to serve as members of a focus group or complete surveys aimed to glean consumer preferences? Also, it would be helpful to know the goals of the campaign – Does the company aim to receive 500+ submissions, including at least 10-20 quick-wins and 50+ longer-term considerations that they can share with R&D?

MW: What have you enjoyed most about the Betterific platform? And what do you like most about the community? DEP: It’s really cool to have a forum to share ideas. Although it’s great to help companies, I especially enjoy when a Betterific user posts something that the community is able to solve for them. That’s powerful!

Leave a comment

Betterific Business (explained) and New Features!

Hi lovers of innovation, ideation and imagination:

At Betterific we’re firing on all cylinders–pushing the envelope of how we can crowdsource innovation.  So what do we work on, on a daily basis?

The Betterific memberbase: Keeping our members engaged–thru weekly emails, innovation challenges, and overall great content.

The Betterific website: What new features should we be adding to make our members happy?  What new features should we be creating to connect our members with brands?  What new features can we create to help make the product development process easier more efficient, more social, and more fun?

Bringing brands on board: We work hard to bring brands like: Target, World Kitchen, Vitamin Water, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, ConAgra, Arby’s, the Washington Nationals, the Washington Wizards, 16 handles…and others onto our platform to host innovation challenges and get ideas through the product development process–from ideation, to evaluation.

Building out our private label Betterific for internal innovation: A year and a half after building out large Fortune 500 brands approached us, asking if they could bring our style of crowdsourcing innovation to their employees.  Repurpose Betterific for their internal use, so employees can connect with managers across the organziation.  This helps flatten the hierarchy, encourages innovation, and helps the C suite get a better understanding of what’s happening down the line.  We’ve deployed a number of our internal employee innovation programs, and they have been tremendously successful.  Saving companies millions of dollars, engaging employees, and inspiring new innovative products and services.

Now, back to the purpose of this post.  New features on!

-Comment editing: We launched the ability to edit your own comments!

The Evaluation zone: Following Target’s overwhelming productive “Dorm Room Innovation Challenge” they asked us to help conceive of a product where they could bring their favorite ideas back out to the community to evaluate them.  We then created the Evaluation zone, a private room for our members to rate, vote, and comment on their favorite concepts.  Target mocked up their favorite ideas (as suggested by our memberbase) and revealed their creations in this room.  It’s a very exciting evolution of – in addition to helping to source  the ideas, we can now help evaluate them as well.Cooler-ottoman

That’s all for now, folks.  Thanks again for joining Betterific, and making it the community that it is today.

Leave a comment

Betterific’s First Product Launch!

My fellow Betterificers, tomorrow, Friday July 17th, will be a special day. Why, you ask? Because with the help of our friends over at Dormify, for the first time ever, a Betterif has been transformed from an online idea to a consumer product, and will be featured on the Today Show!

The product, more specifically, solves a problem faced by many around the world. For too long, people have fumbled with fitted bed sheets, spending too much time questioning which corner goes where and not enough time actually making the bed. If there was a simple label or graphic on the sheet illustrating the proper way to fit it, countless time could be saved. And finally, thanks to the diligence of the Betterific team and the quality of the idea, Dormify has begun to produce and sell the product (which can be purchased here).

The improved fitted bed sheet represents one of the first tangible products to come from the Betterific labs, and if you would like to see one of your ideas possibly come to fruition, then join Betterific here. We’re always on the lookout for innovative souls to keep our innovation train chugging along.