Design and Business Inspirations: A Reflection on the Remarkable

December 18th, 2011

With the end of the year approaching, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on some of the things that have impressed me this year in design and business.

New Businesses:

Everlane Logo

Everlane is a new startup that sells designer quality clothing for under $100. They premiere a new collection monthly of different types of items. The first month was shirts, the second month ties and bows, etc. They have also featured scarves and backpacks so far. Especially as a man, the ability to find quality clothing at an affordable price can be quite the challenge. Everlane solves the problem by consistently producing quality “basics” every person needs. Everlane has been in a limited launch where it requires you to get others to sign up to get access. This tactic is not without its hiccups as some people have been waiting forever that are early adopters, but it spreads the message and anticipation and continues to motivate even after you are granted access because more friends = more perks. See below.

Everlane Loyalty Program

Postmates Logo

Postmates is an on demand service for couriers. As someone who has the iPhone app, you can request a pickup/delivery, and Postmates sends the orders to couriers that have signed up to receive more business who then can accept or deny the order. This is the classic approach of a two-sided model where a particular industry has idle time and can use more business. At the same time, this service makes it easier for people to find courier services so they can get packages across town without using the post office. Postmates will take a fee from each courier transaction.

OneReceipt Logo

OneReceipt is an online home for all of your receipts. Just sync up your email and have all of your email receipts organized in one place. Snap pictures of offline receipts to add them as well. OneReceipt will itemize and categorize all of your spending and provide reports. Long-term, they will attempt to use your spending to match you to targeted offers. The business model end will be a work in progress as it’s unclear how they will get past deal fatigue or even if what people want from a service that’s telling them how much they spend where to spend more. I had the pleasure of talking with the founders before their beta launch, and they are sharp guys, so they will figure out the right way to monetize. That said, the sync technology is impressive, and something competitor Lemon doesn’t have.

Fab Logo

Fab is a flash sales site for design. Fab has curators that handpick vendors to provide flash sales on the site and their mobile apps. The sales are categorized in such a way that you can immediately tell if it’s something you are interested in or not. You can purchase easily through the site or the app, and the merchandise seems to be of consistently high quality. My experience with Fab has been so nice that it made me think I’ve just been missing out on the whole flash sale scene. So I signed up for some other flash sale sites, and no, Fab is just special. The site and app are so enjoyable to use that I don’t need a daily email to remind me to come back to the site. It is fun to just browse the app if you have a few minutes to waste on the bus ride home. That said, the Fab website has a bit of a confused identity, as part of it is flash sale site and part of it is Pinterest competitor. I also question their ability to scale here as they definitely do not have drop ship relationships with all of their vendors, so inventory and warehousing control is a very important issue for them I imagine. It also needs personalization long-term, and no one’s doing that right yet.

Fab Mobile App

Existing Businesses:

Evernote Logo

It’s hard not be impressed with what Evernote has done this year. The company broke 20 million users and raised a $50 million Series D round that values them at somewhere north of $500 million. That’s only scratching the surface though. They bought their first company Skitch, and then helped it pass 3 million downloads on Android. They also started pursuing a multi-app strategy using the Evernote brand. In addition to Evernote and Skitch, they released Evernote Food and Evernote Hello. By separating these new functions as new apps, they get the benefit of using their brand to promote usage while not having what these apps do become hidden as just one of the many features of the main Evernote app.

Path Logo

Path launched in 2010 as a photo sharing service. Its differentiator was that it was a private network for sharing special moments with those close to you. Well, that value proposition really limited their virality, and photo sharing became a crowded space with an increasingly clear winner with Instagram. Path had already rejected a $100 million acquisition offer from Google, they needed to regroup. Path 2, as it’s been called is more of life a journal than photo album. The most important thing to know about it is that it is beautiful. The mobile app is at the forefront of interaction design, and their home page is even innovative (go check it out right now, seriously). The most impressive parts to me are the + button that is so easy to use the and going to sleep/waking up experience (though it does remind me of a joke from Kicking and Screaming). This update still makes me wonder if Path as a company is just a bunch of talented designers without a real problem to solve, but ever since the relaunch, my Path has been way more active with fellow users, so they are gaining traction.

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