Written by Tom Powell: Online enthusiast with an abnormal interest in innovative applications of technology, crowdfunding, co-design, co-creation, and crowdsourcing.

13 April 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

And the winner is…

Etch Connection. Or The Etch Connection. Either one, I guess. Beating out etchable by a solid 1 vote out of 12 – the competition was vicious and ugly. I’ll have to buy the winner a beer (Rob you can grab one of mine out of the fridge, thanks!) I own etchable.com too, so I suppose I could switch the site to that address, if I find Etch Connection to be obnoxious. (I guess I’ll have to see The French Connection now…) We’ll see how it works out…

13 April 2007 ~ 2 Comments                                       

Summary of Crowdsourced Innovation

Brilliant research by this Finnish fella. Exactly what I have been saying, but more… concise and professional-like. I totally buy into open and crowdsourced innovation, but, there is still a solid place for the old style. Case in point: iPhone, iPod, MacBook… really anything Apple does. It’s very secretive with it’s creations and generally comes out with a brilliant, simple design that gets to what consumers always needed without knowing they needed it.

Since I am not a Jobs, I am more drawn to the crowdsourced and open innovation model, bringing in customers and the crowd whenever possible. Apple is the exception, outside innovation should be the rule. Why limit yourself to the ideas within your company or network of partners?

08 April 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

On the sweet laser business front…

I’ve gotten in touch with a couple of the etchers who think the design marketplace idea sounds promising and they are looking forward to seeing it up and running. AND, I’m starting to think I might be able to build most – if not all – of the site myself using CSS, XHTML, Ruby on Rails, MySQL, and a couple of open source tools. We’ll see.

I know you’re all just waiting for some ridiculously awesome designs to etch onto your laptops/cell phones/ipods. I’m working on it.

08 April 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Cluetrain Manifesto: Still kickin…

I don’t know why it took me so long to get to reading it, but the oddly titled Cluetrain Manifesto is as ridiculously right on today as it was in 2000 when it was published. Summing it up: “Markets are conversations”. And just about everything else they discuss has come to pass or at the very least, people are starting to catch on. Blogging, social networks, online reviews, etc. etc. the whole amorphous web 2.0 blob was described in general terms in this book. It gets at the core of what is necessary in this networked world whether as an individual or organization: authenticity, connection, and a voice. Companies have for too long created a barrier between itself and the market and its employees. And this lays out much of the thinking behind the direction I want to go in with my venture and with any company I may work for in the future. So you should really read it. Really. You should.

02 April 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Now Dell’s Doing It

Ideastorm.com is a perfect example of what the big companies are doing around this area. Dell is soliciting ideas for products and services they should offer, anyone can vote on and discuss the best ones, and, of course, the most popular might find its way into a real product. I’ll have to add them to the list of customer innovative companies. Like I’ve said in the past, I want to try to figure out the best way to apply this type of thing from the ground up, involving customers in as many aspects of development and marketing as possible… Haven’t quite figured it out yet.

29 March 2007 ~ 1 Comment                                       

So what am I going to do?

Well, I thought I would get an MBA from Duke starting this fall. In the mean time, I will be working on a smaller-scale project: an online design marketplace for laser etching of laptops and ipods. It is a tiny market, fits right in with the above interests, and is within reach of my technical abilities and resources. I hope to get that going before school starts, keep it going while in school, and develop further my original focus of leveraging social computing for physical product design and development.

I’ll also be posting here, which is really aimed at friends/family, my thinking being: instead of emailing folks who SAY they are interested, but are really just evil/soulless and secretly couldn’t care less, I’ll post everything here, and I’ll leave it up to you to check here if you’re interested or not. I plan to post 2 to 3 times a week and will be polling about stuff from time to time. Feel free to comment away and let me know what you think about all this.

To find out more about this whole laser etching thing: The guys from Make magazine who popularized it a few months ago; Some photos of etchings they’ve done. They’ve opened up the business model and technical specs and several other shops will likely be opening up in the near future in some other cities. There are only a few other folks who do this kind of etching, that I know of right now.
So in my first attempt at getting people involved: (Thanks to Rob, Sarah, and Natalie for the following suggestions that made the cut so far. If you have any to suggest, let me know.)

28 March 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

And, thus, it begins…

For a long time I have had an intense interest in:

  • Social computing/Web 2.0
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Great design
  • Radically open business
  • The world is flat/outsourcing/the ability for tiny companies to outsource/freelance what in the past only large companies could
  • Entrepreneurship in general

    One day, after following these topics over several years, I was struck by an idea about how I could bring all of these together. I was still waiting to hear from several B-schools, but I decided to quit my job anyway, in order to start a project centered around this. I had originally intended to work on how I could apply social computing and crowdsourcing to physical product design: what is the next step in terms of product configuration and design complexity along the lines of Threadless? Along the same lines, some other folks are working on just that: Cambrian House and Crowdspirit. Very interested to see how those two develop (Cambrian has yet to develop physical products, focusing instead on crowdsourced software ideas and Crowdspririt won’t be launching until this summer).

    A few other examples of crowdsourcing type projects: A Swarm of Angels (movie financing), Sell A Band (funding to produce an album), Ringside Startup (funding and idea voting for an online startup).