Tuesday, 8 October 2013

An ode to bicycle-based-businesses and a 3-wheeler for 4-eyes

I like bicycles. Cycling is fun, healthy, affordable, and sustainable. It's generally a force for good.

I also like exciting new businesses models.  Businesses that challenge the conventional and try and shake things up a little.

I REALLY like bicycle-based-businesses - BBBs. To me they score on both fronts.

Even better are Bristol-based-bicycle-businesses - BBBBs. They are a triple-whammy as I can get to visit them by bike, and they are run by 'can do' Bristolians who often inspire.

I've been lucky enough to meet and work with a number of BBBBs over the last year or so..
  • Roll for the Soul
  • Boneshaker Magazine
  • The Bristol Bike Project
  • Robin Mather Cycles
  • Pedal Power Transport and Velocity Cycle Couriers
...and had conversations with many more. Check them out.

I've started collecting a list of BBBs which I occasionally tweet. Here's one of the weirdest recent ones, a mobile opticians tricycle. A 3-wheeler for 4 eyes?

Tricycle Pop-Up Shop Pedals Eyeglasses To Salon Goers [Pics]

And along with Rob Wall at Roll for the Soul we've created a notice board (how old fashioned) for BBBBs - pop in, add yours, or just check it out with a lovely coffee.

Do you have any examples of interesting BBBs?  Do you share my view that they are a force for good, or perhaps you have come across a BBB that doesn't fit this mould?

Or are you a BBBB, or aspiring BBBB entrepreneur bursting with energy? I'd love to hear your story and perhaps be able to offer some support.

P.S. Apologies for the excessive use of the BBB / BBBB terminology - I might have got carried away slightly.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Fire drills and innovation: a story involving a corky kinetic mouse

We've just had a quick fire evacuation here at Spike Island. Don't panic, I'm fine, and it turned out to be a false alarm thankfully, but it got me thinking about how innovation happens.

Whilst outside at our muster point I got chatting to a couple of fellow Spike Design tenants*. I kept them entertained with a riveting story about how my wireless mouse had space for 2 batteries but miraculously worked on just 1. Not surprisingly, we quickly moved on to the idea of whether the mouse would work with no batteries, and from there the idea of a kinetic powered mouse was born!
A quick Google search revealed (unsurprisingly) that the concept had already been developed by a designer (the Corky mouse) but that's not the point. It was a perfect reminder that innovation almost exclusively happens away from your desk!

The 5 minute conversation was everything that a normal work meeting isn't:

  • It was hastily convened...
  • with a disparate group of individuals...
  • standing up...
  • outside...
  • and there was certainly no agenda!

So if you've got a problem to solve, or an opportunity to grasp how about replicating the fire drill?

  • get up
  • walk away from your desk
  • grab a person or two (the more disparate the group the better)
  • find a nice space
  • remain standing, do not sit down
  • shoot the breeze for 5 minutes
  • see what comes up!
You might be surprised what you come up with.  It's got to be better than another 5 minutes of internet research!

Innovation is for established businesses as much as inventing new breakthrough computer pointing devices. There's a whole heap of innovation material out there but I always recommend the Gamestorming approach by David Gray as a starting point.  Get in touch if you'd like to talk more about innovation.


* Thanks to kinetic mouse innovators - Ali of Yoke and Ollie of Hot Head Films

P.S I do not recommend deliberately setting the fire alarm off in your office. Unless there's a fire of course.