Monday, August 18, 2008

The Round-Up Volume 1, Issue 10: What’s Innovation?

Every other week the Digital Influentials column ( highlights just some of the innovative companies we come across in an effort to share them with you so you can stay up-to-date and in-the-know. Of course, what exactly is innovation? We constantly hear about “web 2.0” and even “web 3.0” but are these blanket terms for “innovation”?

In my opinion Innovation refers to the concept of evaluating an existing solution to a challenge and developing a new means of solving that problem. In some cases we develop new problems with the ongoing integration of technology into our lives and innovation allows us to solve those problems in a way we never thought possible before. You’ve heard the idea of “building a better mousetrap” and this lends itself to the concept of innovation, but I would add one element to the mix; the element of need. For innovation to be truly successful there must be a need for the solution. If you build a better mousetrap but the old mousetrap was working just fine and no-one had any complaints, then the so-called innovation is destined to be unsuccessful. The most innovative companies we see are ones that have identified a need and created a solution that fits. Beyond that, these solutions must be defensible and differentiated and if they do so then the tri-fecta can hit and innovation can be successful! As a wise voice I heard recently said to me, “there are far too many solutions searching for a problem to solve”. That is not the basis for successful innovation.

So with all that being said, let’s go take a look at some of the more successfully innovative companies we came across the last two weeks, shall we?

Marissa Gluck sent us a new one this week… ADDICTOMATIC ( I played with the site for a little while and though some of the results they returned in the basic components weren’t always correct, overall I found the site to be intriguing. Innovation may not always be immediately successful, but with a great concept and some ongoing updates, success van be had and I think this site will have it. The site aggregates together information on a selected topic from a number of other sources including Twitter, Google, and others. I think the site has a lot of potential and I plan on keeping a keen, semi-addicted eye in its direction for the next few weeks.

Trevor Wright sent us his new site, DOGTIME ( Dogtime is an innovation in its category because of the simple nature of using the site for good, rather than silliness. Dogtime brings the dog lovers on the web together and allows them to share relevant information rather than just pretending that the dog is surfing the web and creating profile pages for other dogs to read. I can’t say that I relate since I don’t own a dog, but I hear dog lovers love this site!

We saw a trend this week in naming sites and companies based on colors. Davis Brewer sent us PURPLE TALK ( and we were surprised it took 5 weeks for this business model to emerge (insert sarcasm here). Purple Talk is creating an ad network of iPhone apps. With more than $30 million in revenues generated from the App Store in iTunes in just a month, this was an inevitable event. Ad networks are hot and the App Store is hotter, so obviously the two were destined to meet!

Not to be left out, we discovered RED BUBBLE ( I surfed around Red Bubble for an hour checking out art work and t-shirt designs. The web is missing a good place for casual artwork to be displayed to the searching eye and this site makes it easy for artists to show their work! Beyond Flickr, which can be a bit overwhelming, I don’t know where else to go – problem solved! The web is all about finding what you like and posting what you want, and Red Bubble does a great job of organizing its pages. I’ve bookmarked the site and plan on checking it out regularly. You might too!

OK, so I only found 2 sites that named themselves after colors, but I wasn’t searching too hard. I was searching just hard enough to find MAILCHIMP ( Every now and then I find a company that deals with email marketing and they prove to me that email marketing is not a dead art! The chimp was successful as well. By now I assume that most online marketers have identified an email marketing provider, but if you haven’t, check out these guys and see if they can help.

And if you like reading about new companies, check out YOU NOODLE ( You Noodle is a place to discover companies that might be “the next big think”. Reading our newsletter is not the only way to find out about new companies, and we don’t have a “Startup Predictor”. This site might become a valuable resource for us to find some of the more innovative companies online, but be sure to keep reading here and we’ll digest them for ya!

That’s it for this week. Have a great one!!!

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