The World is Wide

October 6, 2010   

Perhaps it's a disease of the unemployed, but recently I've been dazzled how wide the world is, and how much innovation is happening in places outside the pure Web tech sector. At the Tahoe Tech Talks, I spent a lot of time with Ben Kaufman of Quirky. Since hearing about the company, I've become quite obsessed with it and have bought a number of their community sourced products. Just yesterday, I submitted my first idea, and I'll need everyone to vote for next week when it's up for review. (I mean, someone needs to compete with Jim Robinson IV and his über popular "Swiss-Army Knife on Crack"!)

For more about Quirky and how I've been thinking about it, you can follow along in detail on my Letterly.

MakerBotMeanwhile, over in Brooklyn, my dear friends at MakerBot recently released their latest creation, the Thing-O-Matic. Again, here we have some incredible innovation happening outside the web tech industry. Thing-O-Matic is an innovative new version of the MarkerBot because of its Automated Build Platform. The new platform now allows people with MakerBots to print an object, spit it out, and move on to the next product automatically -- enabling mass or serialized, multi-part production.

Again, for further thoughts on MakerBot on where I'd take their company, follow along on Letterly. I'll be posting in more detail later this week.

From product design to product "making" we head to biotech. A relatively unheard of company in the space is Union Springs Pharmaceuticals -- a company founded by a long-term business associate of my family.

MyClynsUnion Springs' latest product is MyClyns, which takes the personal hygiene space Purell has been playing around in and turns it on its head with a revolutionary approach. See one of their funnier marketing videos (more here) below:

Purell obviously found a huge market when they came out on the market. With MyClyns just hitting stores in a major way, it will be interesting if these guys can turn it on its head and capture this space.

Lastly, let's move beyond the world of making things and keeping ourselves healthy, and look to Berkeley, California's city-wide composting service. It's the world of keeping our World healthy.

Of all of the ways we waste resources -- and could save resources -- the amount and disposal of food scraps might be our most egregious. Not only do food scraps represent under-utilized food -- food which has been made but won't be eaten by people who need food -- but it also ends up clogging our landfills and producing harmful emissions into our atmosphere.

There's a better way. First of all, we should all buy, order, and make only the food we need. But even if we're more conscious about the amount of food on our plates, we're still going to have scraps. And we can definitely do something about where we put those...

Composting is the ultimate way to "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" our food scraps. When food composts, it takes up less space, and the end product can be used by gardeners and farmers as food for new plant-life.

In the past, composting has been something left to the farmers with lots of space to contain and reuse their scraps. On my farm in Ohio, we grew up with, and still have, a great composting site that produced nearly all of our needed fertilizer.

But with cities like Berkeley leading the way, soon composting could come to where most scraps are created: our cities. New York City estimates that 29% of what we throw away is compostable, yet in the same article explains why NY-scale composting is too difficult and won't happen any time soon.

It's time for someone to fix that problem, and I hope that whoever does fix the problem profits from it.

So whether its community-sourcing products, bringing 3D printing to the home, turning the personal hygiene market on its head or bringing composting to NYC-scale cities, there's a lot of innovation out there everywhere we look.

As an entrepreneur, thinking about this breadth of problems and solutions is daunting and dangerous. Soon enough, I'll put my head down again and focus on the industry and types of products I'm good at seeing opportunity in and executing on. But for now, I'm loving keeping my head up, poking around and seeing what amazing opportunities exist in this Wide World.

What amazing things have you seen recently?

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