Category Archives: Innovation

Would you buy an IKEA bicycle?


I’m a big fan of IKEA. I love their philosophy. I love their communication. I love their products. However, I’ve only just discovered that IKEA also sell bicycles. So..would I ever consider buying one? I know I’ve got lots already, but as stipulated in ‘the rules‘ you always need one more. (n+1)

I’ve not actually seen one, but here’s the video that explains what it’s about.

As ever with IKEA, the design is well thought-free, with a ‘system’ that integrates all the accessories. I like the idea of the rust free belt drive, but am not convinced by the automatic gear changing – not sure how this would work. If you were a regular cyclist in a flattish city that I imagine it would be work fine.

However, I think it fails on 2 fronts. If IKEA were really serious about solving urban transport problems and getting the world to cycle more, then it would make it much more affordable. £349 is decent value, but very much on a par with other bikes in the category. Secondly, would you really want to be seen cycling an IKEA bike? Generally cyclists are pretty brand conscious and I suspect they would feel a bit a bit weird. I’m ok with an IKEA duvet – but a bike? Not convinced.

I reckon these would be perfect bikes for city bike hire schemes.A real step up from the current London bikes which are a bit cumbersome. However, am not convinced the IKEA bike will change the world.


Why Jimmy’s Iced Coffee will go from strength to strength


As a former Nescafe brand manager and coffee lover I’m always on the look out for new and interesting coffees. So, last Saturday afternoon, whilst in Waitrose I sampled some of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, which I really enjoyed. I even bought a few packs.

When I was worked in the Nescafe brand team in Croydon,  back in the late 80s’ ‘the opportunity for ready to drink iced coffee’ always featured in our brand planning sessions. We were inspired by our colleagues in Greece and France who told us how popular ‘Nescafe Frappe’ was in their countries. We even launched a ready to drink product in a tetrapak format…which didn’t do very well.

So, will Jimmy’s Iced Coffee succeed where Nescafe has failed? Well I think it’s got a very decent chance. Here are the reasons why:

We love an entrepreneur

Jimmy is a real person. He started his business with his sister and has dedicated himself – very publicly – to making it a success. It’s one of those real life start-up stories that we find inspiring – at least I do anyway!

It’s got real personality

Jimmy – with his hipster beard and his cool packaging appears very likeable. The brand’s got a really friendly website with an amusing Youtube video. You can’t imagine this being produced by the Unilever or Nestle brand managers. All the other bits and bobs on social media are quirky and friendly.

Coffee culture’s changed

Back in my day, drinking iced coffee was considered a bit weird. Nowadays, thanks to the likes of Starbucks, it’s much more normal. It’s also generally accepted that coffee is quite good for you – which didn’t used to be the case.

They’re nice products

Not too sweet with a decent coffee hit. I could imagine drinking one of these rather than other soft drinks. Plus there’s a few to choose from.


I’m sure that this Summer I’ll see more and more people walking around the streets of London with their Jimmy’s Iced Coffee!

Drink and snack innovations that blur boundaries – intriguing but a tad confusing


I blame the ‘cronut’, but in recent times I’ve noticed quite a few new products that bring together separate categories to create something new. Nowhere is this more evident than in the worlds of drinks and snacks.

Within drinks, there’s been quite a few examples of ‘speers’ (spirit and beer) and ‘spiders’ (spirit and cider).

1 Desperados


This is what their website says

Desperados is the world’s first Tequila Flavoured Beer. A distinctive combination of full bodied lager with a kick of Tequila flavour. A light & refreshing taste profile balanced with spicy and lemony notes for sweetness’

Beer and Tequila – easy to understand, easy to imagine. Popular with youngsters, targeted at the party occasion, it’s been an international success. There’s also a mojito variant called Desperados Verde

2 Cubanisto


A similar concept from AB Inbev, with rum replacing the tequila. According to their website

‘Cubanisto is a rum flavoured premium beer with a fresh taste of citrus, orange zest, lime and an aroma of caramelised cane sugar and treacle.’

Again targeted at younger drinkers, it comes in bottle with a UV-light sensitive coating designed for night time drinking

3 Magners with Irish Whiskey


Cider has grown massively in recent years with a lot of the new interest driven by Magners. I was particularly intrigued to see Magners with Irish whiskey. Clearly, the Irishness of the brand makes this a natural combination.

4 Orwell’s Amaretto Cider


Joining the ‘spider’ party, here’s an interesting concoction. Described as

a refreshing blend of amaretto notes and a fruity hint of cherry paired with a crisp cider apple background’

Not convinced? Neither am I

5 Pimm’s Cider Cup


However, this sounds much more interesting – English cider, flavoured with Pimms – with a hint of strawberry and cucumber in a ready to drink format. Perfect for the bbq season. Will add this to my shopping list if the weather continues to improve.

6 Walkers Crispy Crackers


Moving away from drinks, let’s explore snacks. The most interesting hybrid category I’ve come across is crispy crackers or cracker crisps

It’s another attempt to make salty snacks healthier, they’re lighter than crisps and oven baked. Walkers is a mega brand, they know their flavours and they’ve got Gary Lineker, so am sure it will be a big hit

7 Jacobs Cracker Crisps


Interestingly, Jacobs are addressing the same opportunity as Walkers but from a completely opposite direction, calling them ‘Cracker Crisps’. Who will be the winner? I guess there’s room for both.

Why You Can’t Avoid the Deliveroo Riders


Every time I cycle around the streets of south London I seem to overtaken by a Deliveroo cyclist with a huge box strapped to his pannier. They never used to be there, but now you can’t escape them. So I thought I’d investigate.

Deliveroo is a restaurant home delivery service. However the key difference between this and other on-line hubs such as Hungry House and Just Eat is that

  • the focus is on more premium outlets rather than standard take-aways
  • Deliveroo is also responsible for delivering the food as well as ordering

For every delivery, a customer is charged £2.50. Deliveroo is (at least partially) one of those ‘sharing economy’ business ideas that I referred to in my previous post – people using their assets to earn money. The people who deliver the food are self employed. As long as you have a bike / scooter and a smartphone you can apply to become a Deliveroo driver and can work as often or as little as you like. A bit like Uber but for people with 2 wheels rather than 4.

Our appetite for home delivery seems insatiable and invades all walks of life and almost every branded offer – thanks Amazon, thanks Ocado. I read that you can even get American Apparel items delivered to your home within an hour if you suddenly find you’ve run out of underwear.

As with all great business ideas, Deliveroo seems quite simple in retrospect. I’ve no doubt it will continue to grow and I can imagine lots of other similar services beginning to emerge. And if you’re ever short of cash, you can always dig out your bike from the shed, apply to become a rider and become part of the sharing economy yourself.

Why Sharing is The Way Forward


I’ve just been reading a fascinating book – The Business of Sharing, by Alex Stephany.

The book explains and describes in detail a relatively new phenomenon – people building businesses that revolve around renting or selling what they own. It’s creating a whole new world of entrepreneurs as well as disrupting traditional businesses – and often causing controversy along the way.

The book focuses on some of the most famous and well established ‘sharing’ businesses, such as Uber, Airbnb and Zipcar. However, I particularly enjoyed the smaller examples which cover all kinds of sectors from ride sharing to crowd funding

A couple of my favourites are Borrowmydoggy, where people can the experience the pleasure of looking after a dog, without the commitment of full ownership. (Am thinking of joining!). I also liked the idea of TaskRabbit, where you can out-source tasks you don’t want to do – or indeed offer up your skills for the benefit of others.

For me, these are the businesses of the future: nimble, community based, problem solving and enabled by technology. All you need is a great idea!

3 of My Favourite Idea Generation Techniques

Here’s 3 foolproof creative exercises you can turn to when you’re looking to inject a bit more lateral thinking into your workshop and kick-start some new ideas

1. Random Words

One of the simplest and most most effective techniques. This is how it works.

1. Pick out a random word from a bag. I tend to use those magnetic words you can buy to create poems for fridges

2. Write down all the associations you have with that word

3 Use these associations to generate some new ideas i.e. they become the springboard for some lateral leaps

It works because of it’s random nature – it stimulates your mind in new and interesting ways. It’s also really quick to do and can take you into some new and unpredictable directions.


2. Rule Breaking

If you’re looking for radical / breakthrough ideas, then this is a great technique to use

1. Write down all the beliefs / assumptions / conventions that surround the problem you’ve been dealing

2. Come up with some new ideas that break or challenge these ‘rules’

It’s great because it’s really simple to do, uses no props and encourages people to generate some challenging ideas. It can also be quite amusing and liberating as people often generate ludicrous, outrageous or immoral ideas – which can often act as a bridge to a truly great idea.

3. Corporate Takeover

This is a very ‘safe’ exercise to undertake in that everyone finds it easy to do, even if they’re unfamiliar with creative workshops and you always get some great ideas. This is how it works.

1. In teams ask people to select a brand they admire. Alternatively, you could simply allocate the team an interesting brand that you’ve pre-selected

2. Ask people to bring the brand to life – what it’s famous for, it’s values, it’s personality, etc

3. Finally imagine that your company has been taken over by this brand. How would they solve the problem / come up with new ideas

It’s great because there is quite a short lateral leap required to come up with new ideas, people love talking about other brands and it helps release them from their own corporate shackles

There are many more idea generation techniques I could talk about, but when I’m facilitating creative workshops, I often use at least one of these. Why not give them a go!

Squegg – The Best Easter Egg I’ve Ever Seen


My sister bought these for my daughters. They’re Thornton’s Squeggs – SQUashed chocolate Easter EGGS – geddit? Easy to carry, easy to eat and they look delicious. You could (almost) argue that they’re more eco-friendly than other Easter eggs. Like most great ideas, it’s simple, yet in hindsight, obvious. I’m sure they’ll become a big huge hit and spawn a whole series of copycats. Can’t wait to try them