Survival in a Cylinder

ab8e221dc9e2d344b48a7d98ab798488_large (1)Now if you find yourself stranded in the wilderness without the means to start a fire, purify water, open a can of soup, catch fish, saw down branches, erect shelters, signal for help, or tend your wounds, you have only yourself to blame.

No bigger than a flashlight (8 inches long, 2 inches in diameter), VSSL (pronounced “vessel”) is a survival kit in a cylinder. It comes in three varieties: Supplies, Shelter, and First Aid.

923690942fd9328018b9ad38d947d150_largeThe Supplies VSSLincludes seven capsules, each with gear in miniature for survival, emergencies, and fun. One capsule holds fire starting equipment, tinder, matches, a mirror. Another holds reflective trail markers. One capsule is a candle. One is a can opener; another, a compass. One capsule contains a wire saw and a whistle. A water filter, fishing gear, rope, and a razor blade also have their own capsules.

The Shelter VSSL includes an eight foot rope and survival blanket – the kind that looks like aluminium foil.

The First Aid VSSL is a miniature first aid kit. VSSL itself doubles as an LED flaslight, with steady and SOS modes.


The Popcorn Ball

46bc5cbfc5f5e9188ab1b45365a488c4_largeTo evenly distribute butter and salt throughout a bag of movie theater popcorn takes more cunning and resourcefulness than most can lay claim to. Short of making a really horrible mess, it almost can’t be done. The straw trick was cute, but no cigar.

The Popcorn Ball spins popcorn and mix-ins together, no mess, no straw. Just a hollow sphere with convenient finger grips. Fill it with popcorn, add mix-ins, and spin it between your fingers like a ball. Shake it if you like, but spinning is best. When you’re ready to eat, pop off the lid. You won’t be chasing the lid all over the movie theater floor; it remains attached to the bowl.

Design-wise, it’s splendid: Bright red and shiny and friendly, something you want to eat popcorn out of. It even splits in half for ease of cleaning.

The Popcorn Ball isn’t only for popcorn. What else requires even mixing for full flavor effect? How about trail mix? Or muddy buddies? Caramel corn? Party mix? Broccoli salad?



10 Things You Should Know Before Launching a Product

A mistake during product launch could deal a deathblow to your company at its most vulnerable stage. The following are ten things industry experts think you ought to know before launching a product.

David Columbus — Target Team Leader

  • Don’t go everywhere at once. Pick the right retailer(s) to launch.  Don’t be disappointed if you don’t garner full chain distribution right away. Be in the right stores. Patience leads to bigger wins and volume down the road. Remember: if your product is special, a buyer will move fast to get your product chain-wide.
  • Do as much work for the buyer (and buyer’s staff) as possible. Suggest inventory levels by store.  Show what your product looks like in a circular or featured in-store. Show what velocity (sales per store per week) the product will sell in peak vs off-peak.

Bill Sussman — President & CEO at Collective Bias

  • Podcasts are a great way to launch a new product and are infinitely shareable. They work well with today’s mobile obsessed consumers. They can be used to teach an audience about the product. Many influencers today strategically place them on their blogs to add richness and information.

Bill Akins – Senior Vice President, Business Innovation at Rockfish Interactive

  • Early stage CPG companies often do not fully realize the scale on which they have to produce in order to satisfy not only a mass retailer’s store count, but also safety stock, eCommerce, and promotional quantities.

Julie Busha – President & CEO of Slawsa Brand

  • One of the biggest things that start-ups (especially food entrepreneurs) don’t understand is the marketing you need to present to the buyer to sell your brand. Many food entrepreneurs think that just because they have a good tasting product or a product with “pretty packaging” that that is the primary focus with buyers. It’s not. Specifically spelling out what your marketing program entails to drive sales off the shelf speaks volumes to the buyer.

Thomas TessmerOwner of Integrated Insights

  • Manipulating data leads to bad things. Good salesmanship always involves some amount of creative license. But if you mislead the buyer, expect shoppers to quickly out you as they refuse to live up to the false expectations you set. Perhaps the only thing more painful than not gaining distribution you want is having to deal with the profit-killing costs of unsold inventory.

Meredith Lowry – Partner at Smith Hurst, PLC 

  • Consider trademarks when selecting company and product names. It’s easy to want a descriptive name to let consumers quickly determine the nature of the goods, but descriptive names are harder to protect. It’s also important to determine that another party isn’t already on the market. Accusations of trademark infringement can be very detrimental to early stage companies.

Clarissa Clark – Team Leader at Shell

  • Your baby might be ugly.  In other words, everyone adores their own child (and product), but not everyone will be as excited as you are about yours.

Lisa Bohn — Director at Retail Solutions

  • Forecast Accuracy– You must watch the forecast to ensure sales and forecast are in alignment. You will have stores exceeding and underperforming against expectations; you must find them and adjust.

Sean Womack – Brand Consultant at SLW

  • Brand from the shelf out.  A lot of new brands don’t have $100M ad budgets, so they need to brand from the shelf out.  Review it on shelf BEFORE deciding on a design; you cannot tell if it is any good until you get it in the store. Just get permission, put samples on the shelf and view them at various distances. You’ll know which is working.

Checking these boxes and avoiding these pitfalls could mean the difference between life and death for your product.




A Coin to Guard Your Treasures

414a3083ce7bb6b3ffa1245c6b7119d3_largeWhat do a collection of antique books, a gun safe, a liquor cabinet, and a cookie jar have in common? Under normal circumstances, you don’t want them touched. When they’re messed with, you want to know (and wreak vengeance upon the perpetrator).

You don’t need an entire home security system to keep these small and special and dangerous things safe. A home security system would do a pretty poor job of it, anyway.

CoinGuard works because CoinGuard is included among your treasures. It sits among them and waits for a bump, a jostle, a touch. The instant CoinGuard detects a meddling hand, it sends an alert to your smartphone.

f5ddc49d6483955d3adab67eeca5ff4e_largeAs its name implies, CoinGuard is coin sized. It runs on battery, so it goes anywhere. The tiny sensor detects movements and vibrations and interprets them only one way: Intruder, Raider, Marauder, Despoiler, Unasked, Unwelcome. Of course, if it’s only you, you can ignore the alert.

A hub plugged into some remote location (anywhere within a hundred meters of CoinGuard) controls the system. Your smartphone controls CoinGuard, turning it on or off and managing alerts.

CoinGuard is currently available for funding on Kickstarter.




Geometry Toys

0c6e92435ebc8bcb456d26237f372506_largeI can imagine more exciting things than geometry. But I can’t imagine geometry in any cuter form than that of Prismland.

In Prismland live the Prism Pals, five characters with their own unique set of corners and angles and properties: Cubert, the cube; Hexter, the hexagon; Rhonda, the rhombus; Spherrison, the sphere; and Pyri, the pyramid. All their angles and edges make them no less cuddly: these are plush toy prisms, with softened corners and edges.

380df7624281ba163f13567ce5a88890_largeEach prism friend comes with a booklet explaining simply and in good fun his or her properties as a prism. In one story, Cubert is so badly frightened that his edges split: he pops open to reveal all his faces in two dimensions. It didn’t seem to do him much harm. The real Cubert is meant to remain intact. He makes a great conversation piece perched on a bedspread, and his beaming face – one of six, you’ll recall – makes geometry seem friendly.



A Dog Toy That Won’t Get Old

43ba480c0e7863c8af83a969a12e8941_largeThere are so many dog treats and toys out there, it can be hard to tell what’s best for your own dog. The Schnuzzle team has put together a toy that can be used in various situations and made to fit your dog’s preferences.

Schnuzzle is a recyclable, multi-piece toy whose colors and shapes you can mix and match, allowing you to make either a ball or bone-shaped toy. Between these interchangeable pieces you can place scent discs to make the toy new to your dog every time. These discs release the aroma of essential oils when they are securely twisted into place. This can be especially fun to play hide-and-go-seek with, which you can’t do with most toys. The essential oils that are released from the disc can be used to help your dog calm down in stressful situations. From ‘Car Ride’ to ‘Bedtime,’ the Schnuzzle team has created the best toy for whatever your situation may be.

The Schnuzzle is a mess-free toy, great for all sizes, ages, and breeds of dogs. But the thing that makes the Schuzzle different from other dog toys on the market is its ability to interact with your dog’s keen sense of smell with various scents (such as Honey Bacon, Roast Chicken, Cheddar Cheese, etc.) as well as creating a unique playing experience with every different shape and color variation.Schnuzzle will not only entertain but engage your dog.

MonBaby: “Baby Monitor in a Button”

photo-main (35)The thought of tiptoeing in at some odd hour and finding one’s baby succumbed to SIDS is enough to make any parent sick with fear. But traditional baby monitors can’t offer any assurance on that head. The nature of respiratory failure in newborns is silence, total silence. The only reliable method to check for breathing is a strained ear and surreptitious hand in the dark. If not surreptitious enough, the baby wakes.

900278c73238683fe704bcb6e74a3fa6_largeNo longer. MonBaby monitors and communicates the two most important pieces of information about a baby’s sleep: if breathing is regular, and in what position the baby lies. It snaps onto a baby’s clothing and infers the baby’s position by its own orientation. A tiny accelerometer tracks movement and breathing. A glance at your smartphone screen reassures you on all counts.  If something isn’t right, MonBaby sends an alert straight to your smartphone.

A two month battery life makes MonBaby reliable. A friendly user interface makes it convenient. Cordless technology makes it safe.

Wearable peace of mind.



Dr. John Kenagy of Kenagy & Associates on Adaptive Design


Dr. John Kenagy, MD, developer of Adaptive Design and founder of Kenagy & Associates talks with Selling to the Masses host Derek Ridenoure about the innovative management techniques and product development approaches illustrated by Adaptive Design. Modeling innovative methods of forward-looking companies, Adaptive Design empowers management to create solutions to problems as they happen on the frontline. These small changes lead to progressively better care at lower cost. Continue reading

The Flashlight, Reinvented

Compared to the LightMan, the flashlight is huge, clunky, unwieldy, and easily lost. Forget about hands free. Have you ever seen someone holding a flashlight in their mouth to illuminate a task requiring both hands? Isn’t it sad?

The LightMan includes a clamp, like a clothes pin, for easy mounting. It clamps onto anything, lightly but securely: your shirt, your camera, your easel.

Better, the LightMan’s lights disconnect from the power source (the main body) on a retractable reel. The lights are magnetic, opening up a whole host of new mounting possibilities. That tight squeeze under the sink to fix a leak? Give yourself some line and stick the LightMan’s lights onto a pipe – one way or another. Or just clip LightMan onto your shirt or glasses or hat, like a headlamp.

The LightMan turns on with the push button click we all love – the best thing about the flashlight. Its brightness, a respectable 120 lumens, is sufficient to act as a sort of headlight when clamped on a bike or pinned on a runner’s clothes.

In short, you’re looking at the most clever flashlight redesign ever. It can do more than any flashlight because it goes where flashlights don’t.



Purse with a Purpose

photo-main (33)Who ever guessed that keeping your phone charged could be so stress-free?  The Everpurse was created when a social worker named Liz Salcedo outfitted her purse with charging equipment.  Pretty soon, people she knew wanted her to make “phone-charging bags” for them, too.

It’s easy to see why.  The Everpurse effortlessly keeps your phone charged for up to 96 hours at a time.  Forget the bother of taking your phone out of your purse, tracking down the charging cable, and plugging it into both the phone and the wall outlet.  The Everpurse charges wirelessly.  Simply place the purse on the charging mat, and voila, as if by magic, your purse will be charged and ready to go by next morning.  Keep your phone in the special charging pocket and it will stay charged throughout the day.

9cea0c3dc84fb8753d6a06e656e9d718_largeYou can carry the Everpurse without forgoing fashion.  Made in three versatile shades of sophisticated Saffiano leather, the Everpurse is absolutely beautiful and utterly feminine. Not only does it hold your phone, but it is also spacious enough to hold all your essentials. The Everpurse is an accessory you will be proud to carry wherever you go.



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