Trevor Stauffer

This Week’s Market Inventions

Of the countless companies out there making “smart” products, few are true market inventors. Many are pure marketing. Remember this infamous “smart juicer” that cost $400? As far as most people could tell, it squeezed juice out of pricey, proprietary pouches filled with pulpy juice. And then there are products like the “smart” Egg Minder that lets you keep track of up to 14 eggs with an app. Now doesn’t that sound worthwhile?

We’re back this week with another Market Invention roundup, and first on our list is a smart device that actually makes a lot of sense.

1. Bevi

Bevi is a smart water cooler that does away with some of the hassles of office hydration.  It’s like a Coke Freestyle machine, but without all the calories and shady ingredients. Thanks to connectivity, the machine automatically notifies Bevi’s service team when your machine needs refilled or serviced, eliminating the hassle of placing supply orders or calling in maintenance people. The best part? Bevi will drastically (and painlessly) cut down your team’s use of disposable plastics—and maybe even their waistline—while likely saving your business money.

2. Everlane

Everlane is another company working to combat the problem of plastic waste, but in a totally different way. The clothing manufacturer has set the audacious goal of “no new plastic in our supply chain by 2021.” That includes everything—down to the packaged food employees bring to the factory. The company has also launched a line of men’s and women’s outerwear with only recycled synthetics. According to their website, this product line, called Renew, has already repurposed 3 million plastic bottles.  

3. Cotopaxi

If you’re twenty-something and outdoorsy, you probably already know this one. If you don’t, you should: Cotopaxi is rocketing through the congested ranks of the zen/hipster soft goods market with flamboyant colors, brilliant storytelling, and the rallying cry Gear for Good. Cotopaxi has seriously committed to sustainability and ethical practices, but that’s not what truly sets them apart. The company offers products, like their iconic Del Día line of packs, that allow individual workers total creative freedom over the color pattern—a radical idea meant to give a degree of autonomy to the job of the factory worker.

4. Farmshelf

If Bevi is like a Coke Freestyle for healthy beverages, then Farmshelf is a “Nespresso for lettuce.” One of their favorite hashtags on social media is #bringingthefarmtoyou—and that pretty well captures the company’s promise. They offer plug-and-play, internet-connected hydroponic growing stations designed to allow restaurants and chefs to grow greens and culinary herbs right in the restaurant. Farmshelf uses sensor data to help users take the guesswork out of gardening, and the company sends fertilizer and seed pods as part of a monthly subscription. In theory, the “mini farm” may eventually pay for itself with a steady supply of fresh heirloom greens—but those who purchase a Farmshelf are probably not trying to save money. The real draw of Farmshelf is experiential: sourcing fresh ingredients from within the restaurant.

5. IRL Glasses

IRL stands for “in real life.” The premise behind this startup, crowdfunded by the internet, is that we all spend too much time on the internet (and looking at screens in general). Their solution? Glasses that make screens invisible. Slightly ironically, their website is actually really cool and deserves a look.

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