February 20, 2011

Sizing up the competition

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Business model, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Marketing, Materials, Strategy at 12:36 pm by Kilo

When we first started to investigate the market for carry-on liquid bags, we bumped into dozens of alternatives to the simple plastic bag out there in the marketplace.

Some producers took a high road, positioning (and pricing) themselves in the upper reaches, some positioned and priced to get volume. It was interesting to follow the PR efforts of the various positions: some pitching at high end fashion magazines, others pitching at the savvy backpacker.

What we quickly realized is that despite the intended price-based positioning, these various offers were competing on the same basic characteristics. Typically these bags all featured the same basic design: low cost metal/plastic zippers, inexpensive clear plastic sides, a lack of waterproofness, some 100ml bottles, little or no hygiene, and a few minor styling cues.

We saw that with the fundamental concept and design of Jellypods we had a chance to completely innovate the category, changing the rules by which the game was played. We used a couple of techniques such as the ERIC framework (Eliminate, Reduce, Increase, Create) to figure out which elements we would get rid of entirely e.g. metal zippers, and which we would introduce for the first time such as silicone materials; which were expensive additions that added little value such as the plastic bottles, and which areas were under-emphasized such as hygiene.

The result was a completely new product category for Jellypods, one in which certain core themes in most other products are completely removed, and several new attributes are introduced for the first time. We’ve been able to generate something that looks unique and behaves in a way that lifts it above the level of the rest of the market. If this ultimately does turn out to be a success, that basic thinking about product attributes is likely to be a large part of the reason why.


February 6, 2011

Designing packaging for Jellypods

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Branding, Business model, Feedback, Luggage, Marketing, Materials, Packaging, Production, Strategy at 10:56 am by Kilo

Packaging of Jellypods has been something we have considered right from the start, as part of the Blue Ocean approach.

We’ve been through a wide range iterations, from external to internal, from lots to none, but now we have started to zero in on a couple of concepts.

The mainline thinking of packaging Jellypods has always been around allowing people to see and feel the product on the shelf, while also having the benefits and value of the product explained visually to the potential buyer.

It also can’t cost the earth – there’s no point working so hard to cost optimize the basic product only to add 30% extra cost for a wrapper.

That set of goals is encapsulated in the latest designs for a wraparound package which is shown below:

However, one other option that is still seriously under consideration is to avoid external packaging altogether. In a Blue Ocean sense, this makes a lot of sense – it eliminates something that maybe adds little value.

Crocs, a story we mentioned earlier on the blog, deliberately decided to place their products out in the open air, with zero packaging, to show the wide variety of colours.

Jellypods have a convenient little Jelly-shaped hanging hole built into the ziptabs that would make this a very viable option, and because the product is crystal clear, it would be quite easy to put all “packaging detail” inside the Jellypod itself. What do you think?


January 29, 2011

The story of Senzº umbrellas

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Business model, Design, Luggage, Marketing at 9:51 am by Kilo

Sometimes when you are just surfing the net, looking for inspiration, you stumble across a really nice product that just came out of nowhere and became a massive success.

That happened on a wet Saturday a few months ago when we stumbled onto this video from Senz umbrellas:

After a little research we discovered the story of how Senz had got started: a young designer, Gerwin Hoogendoorn, gets annoyed at losing his third umbrella to stormy winds in a week, has an idea to build an aerodynamic umbrella. That idea turns in to 3 guys in a room the size of a cupboard who work together for a year to get the first models out the door. They manufacture their new design in China, order 10,000 umbrellas – and sell out in just 9 days in a blitz of media attention. You can read the full story here.

Senz has gone on to win just about every major design award on the planet and has grown rapidly since 2006, while charging about $50-$80 for an umbrella.

We like stories like that – taking a slightly twisted look at an existing, slightly boring category, that is just not designed for the bashing it is taking, then developing a new slant on it, and creating something that just twists the whole category into a new dimension.

Are we that clever? Probably not even close, but we are bringing some innovation to a large market that today is served by a horrible, unhygienic, unreliable plastic sandwich bag. That has to be worth something.

January 15, 2011

The market for Jellypods

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Branding, Business model, Design, Funding, Investors, Luggage, Marketing, Materials, Web at 11:28 am by Kilo

We started the Jellypods journey from a personal need, but we’re continuing it beyond the “half-hour serious” phase because to the potential of the original idea.

The original Jellypods design, for frequent flyers, is addressing a large market;  according to IATA, the International Air Transport Association, more than 2,750,000,000 passengers – equivalent to 40% of the entire population of the planet Earth – are going to get on an airplane in 2011. Now not all of those are unique travellers – many are the same person taking multiple trips, frequent flyers.

But just one airline loyalty programme, Lufthansa’s Miles and More, has 15,000,000 registered frequent travellers, and about 350,000 of those are elite travellers, Senators or Hons. Multiply those kinds of figures by the number of major airlines on the planet (about 100 of the 300 or so out there), and that’s a big market that can be addressed relatively readily.

Then when we started to look beyond the core market of the initial design, and look at other uses for nicely designed, waterproof, quirky bags made of hygienic, stretchy, safe, washable, heat/sun/rain/sea/tea/cold resistant bags we found literally dozens of markets out there and started naming various new Jellypods designs after them. We also saw that the basic design could be extended and evolved in new ways to create ideas like Jellyshells (more about this later this year), opening up even more new markets.

November 14, 2010

Overcoming production challenges

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, CAD/CAM, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Production, Uncategorized at 9:57 am by Kilo

Now when you just naively look at Jellypods, you might think: “it’s just a simple little bag made of silicone – easy”.

And to be honest that was also our initial thinking; how hard could it be?

Well, we now know the answer is “quite hard”.

Making Jellypods involves a number of tricky steps that are non-obvious and several design considerations took weeks to figure out.

The main technical issue we face is manufacturing the huge internal cavity via a tiny opening. This creates issues in ensuring the materials being used can be vulcanized, and ultimately extracted from the machines being used to make them, and is actually the trickiest thing we have to address. We have even considered inventing a new technique called “inflation molding” to get around this issue, which is a huge problem.

Another issue is ensuring Jellypod stay closed and remain watertight. After dozens of iterations we arrived at a quite novel solution that not only offers a doubly-secure locking mechanism but that also give the user of the Jellypods a much better degree of watertight-ness.

It’s almost silly the amount of thinking that goes into these things – something as simple as the radius of a circular bump on the closure, or the opening pull tab angles – but those details are what will make this product really sing.

April 21, 2010

Jellypods in four gorgeous colours

Posted in Blue Ocean, Design, Modelling tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:26 am by Kilo

One of the key things we wanted to offer in the Jellypod was the chance to have transparency with colour. It’s one of those characteristics that will make Jellypods look completely different to other options.

And to that end we have a range of four colours in the initial limited Launch Edition Jellypods lineup. Here are a couple of them:

Sea Smoke Grey

This is the first time we’ve shown a nearly complete Jellypod – this is still not the final version – in delicious, full colour, full shaded 3D. And now maybe you can start to see why we think these little podlets are going to be the hot “must-have” travel accessory in the coming months.

Atlantic Ocean Green

Unlike the basic ziplock or other alternative bags, the coloration is actually part of the basic fabric of the Jellypod, while still allowing us to maintain full transparency to ensure compliance with airline rules. You can see how the subtle tint manages to allow both characteristics to work together at the same time. This is just one of the special characteristics we are adding into the mix of the special material used to make Jellypods.

And in case you are wondering, the other colours are Ribbon Reef Red and Arctic Ice Blue. We’ll drop some shots of those wonderful colours into the blog soon!

April 15, 2010

Blue Oceans of Jellypods

Posted in Blue Ocean, Competition, ERIC, Marketing, Strategy at 8:01 am by Kilo

Earlier on this blog we mentioned that ERIC helped us refine our the valuable characteristics we built into each Jellypod. Who the heck is ERIC?

ERIC stands for Eliminate-Reduce-Increase-Create. It is a way of looking at a competitive situation and changing the mix of product attributes to establish a new product, or even market, category. This is exactly what we did from the very first moment with Jellypods, driven by a process now famously and fashionably known as Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS).

Chan Kim and Renee Maubourgne are the now quite well-known INSEAD business school professors who invented Blue Ocean Strategy, and we have been lucky enough to study the subject under their tuition – naturally back before they were famous. Since then, their book on the subject has gone on to sell millions of copies. Here is a nice picture of the two of them looking very much like people who just sold a few million copies of their book:-

The main point of BOS is that you should look for ways to break out from the bloody red seas of intense price and feature competition by inventing new offers that create entirely new market categories with more attractive attributes. These new markets are the “blue oceans” that allow clear sailing. Some classic examples of BOS are Nintendo’s Wii, Cirque du Soleil, and Southwest Airlines. You can find quite interesting case studies and interviews on these and others knocking about the internet.

BOS offers some quite simple techniques to help you explore different parameters of competition, from the degree of current product attributes to things you can invent that don’t exist yet. Underpinning these options are the decisions you take to eliminate, reduce, increase or create various parts of the mix, like pushing the sliders up and down on an audio mixing board. Here’s the visual mix for Jellypods:-

You can hopefully just about see that the green line (Jellypods) is clearly very different on a number of attributes to things we are defining as existing offers. Some things have been eliminated entirely, others increased drastically, still others created from nowhere – in other words, ERIC.

You will have seen the very first version of this in the post below where the initial idea was sketched out in a Moleskin, and it has been quite fundamental in our thinking. Many of the final Jellypods properties and values are derived from BOS/ERIC, and we think we have created a new category that will be quite appealing to a large number of travellers and others over time.

But it’s still a risk – it might not work out, and maybe very few people will want one. Unfortunately nobody is able to guarantee success!