Monday, November 22, 2010

Competitions Galore: And the Winner Is...

     TV game shows may have declined in recent years, but idea contests are riding a wave among big corporations. Competitions often arise when problems loom large and times are tough, so no surprise they are currently on the uptick. Encouraged by the ease and success of cloud computing and crowd sourcing, many major corporations see competitions as a spur to innovation, solving problems big and small.
Consumer companies have jumped into the fray with both feet. Starbucks has its "My Starbucks Idea" invitation, asking customers and employees to suggest ideas "revolutionary or simple," resulting in something as basic as a new flavor or as practical as a domed lid on its cups to house the whipped cream. Procter & Gamble is reaching out through its Connect & Develop program to "accelerate innovation" globally through partnerships with small companies to add value to P&G products.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Mom Motivation

     A new breed of entrepreneurs is gaining steam: moms who decide to create new businesses after giving birth. While pundits ponder why women are underrepresented in corporate leadership, despite the fact that women now account for the majority of the workforce, these "mompreneurs" find opportunity, rather than disadvantage, in their motherhood.
The idea often starts with something as basic as changing diapers. Since disposable diapers are the third largest contributor to landfills, no surprise that eco- minded moms, not quite ready to revert to scrubbing cloth diapers, needed an alternative. Australian-born Kim Graham-Nye was pregnant with her first child when she began searching for diaper options and instead found "an amazing hole in the market." Her solution was to license diaper technology, which she could only market outside of Australia and New Zealand. With her husband Jason, also her business partner, she moved to environmentally-friendly Portland, Oregon where they founded gDiapers in 2005 to "keep plastic off babies and out of landfills."