The Betterific Blog

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

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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.

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Big News!

About a week ago, the host of the Hobson & Holtz Report, a man named Shel Holtz, interviewed Betterific co-founder Micha Weinblatt and posted the interview in podcast form on their website!

The report itself, described as a “weekly commentary on public relations and technology,” has a strong online presence and enabled listeners to hear the story surrounding the creation of Betterific. The podcast itself makes for some great listening, and the accompanying article goes into some detail about Mr. Weinblatt’s past experiences in entrepreneurship.

Here’s the link to the page:

And remember to share with friends, family, and everyone!

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The pudgy white vans of the US postal service have been a common sight in communities across America for years, and whether you live in big cities or rural towns, chances are you’ve probably seen them quite a few times. The postal service, while reaching its modern form in the early 70’s, has existed in various forms since the time of Ben Franklin and the founding fathers. Generations of Americans have required the mail to be both sent and delivered in a timely and efficient fashion, and whether the letters came on horseback or from car, legions of mailmen have diligently carried out this purpose expertly and with a level of finesse that only a mailman could manage.

But this organization surely must be steeped in conservatism and bureaucratic red tape, right? It must be almost impossible to actually be able to implement new, innovative, and fresh ideas, no?

This image, brought to you by Betterific’s own Micha Weinblatt:



Shows an interesting path that the USPS is taking, and seems uncannily like an idea that you could find on Betterific’s web page. By placing an advertisement on the side of a USPS truck, it exposes the content to whoever has mail delivered to them. In a setting like New York City, for example, that impact is multiplied by the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who glance at the truck on any given day. It’s a bold and innovative way of advertising, and if an organization like the postal service could be brought on to help, imagine the innovative possibilities that lay in the future. It’s all about content and distribution, and it looks like the USPS has caught on.

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!

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Evolution in Business and “Digital Darwinism” – Why your company needs innovation to survive

It seems like all you hear these days are stories about “how business is changing.” Brian Solis, the principal analyst at the Altimeter Group, coined the phrase “digital darwinism” to capture the essence of change in the business world today. Business has always been about finding better ways to do things, but technology has created new opportunities as well as challenges for business. The term “digital darwinism” refers to the fact that today’s society and technology is changing faster than most businesses’ ability to adapt. Even the companies with the “big guns” have had trouble coping.

Evolution in business seems to be favoring those who take a leadership role and who place themselves at the forefront of change by leading the charge into new territory for what business can do. Of course, in the long run we have no idea what this will mean, but in the now, we know that today’s company needs to be smart, proactive and courageous when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what they do and how they do it. We’ve seen quite a few giants fall in recent years because they failed to identify ways of recreating and evolving the way we do things. It’s easy to just “blame the internet,” for the downfall of many businesses but it’s more than just that. Blockbuster, Kodak and Borders are all perfect examples of companies who had great management teams and lots of expertise/connections in their respective industries, but they all fell prey to the fact that they refused to recognize the relevance of change and how they could ultimately profit from it.

In life and in business, you really can’t afford to sit on your hands. Just as in our own personal lives we need to have a certain amount of daring to progress. If we don’t progress, we risk losing relevance. So how do you foster that progress as a business? How do you harness daring or find a way to stay on top of things such that you are the one creating the change that the rest of the world embraces? At Betterific, we attempt to help companies make good use of crowdsourcing as a tool to help foster the innovation and creativity needed to inspire changes in the way things are done. But even with new tools, most companies still have a long way to go when it comes to figuring out how to best capitalize on that innovation. Ideas are always floating around, but you need to have a plan on how to capture those ideas, leverage them efficiently and then turn them into profits, if you really intend to thrive.

Brian Solis makes a living helping companies figure out ways to foster innovation and then implement change. We thought we would share Brian Solis’ “12 Pillars of Innovation” here because they provide something of a roadmap and an explanation regarding the overall system that needs to be set-up in order to capitalize on innovation and change. Click on the infographic below to see a full explanation of each of the pillars.

In our own words though, when it comes to creating a system within your company that will allow you to be more innovative you start here:

Decide what parts of your business could benefit from new ideas and new ways of doing things

Assign someone or a group the role of overseeing and implementing any project(s) aimed at increasing innovation

Identify the best tools to help you accomplish your goals and experiment with them

Evaluate outcomes and adjust your projects and goals accordingly

There are certainly a number of ways to encourage innovation and each company will have different methods and needs to be addressed. The objective is to become the sort of company that knows how to implement the changes needed not only to be more innovative, but to benefit from the innovation. Brian Solis definitely gives a number of ways in which companies can do this including “reverse-mentoring” and work time to allow for creative thinking sessions. We strongly suggest you read through his article. Happy innovating!