April 4, 2011

Welcome to Hong Kong, en route to the Jellypods factory

Posted in Airlines, Competition, Frequent Flyer, Hong Kong, Marketing, Production, Prototyping at 9:20 pm by Kilo

Well here we are safe and sound in Hong Kong, wrapped in the very welcoming arms of the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

  

With an 11 hour flight and 6 hours of time lapse, we’re adjusting slowly, but it’s hard to stay sitting still in such a vibrant city, so we’re using a day or two to enjoy the sights and sounds: in just one day we managed to see the world’s longest escalators in Soho, scoot around the markets of Gough and Graham Streets where you can buy a bag of frogs (literally), stroll past what was once the world’s most expensive building in Central, visit the former colonial Marine Police HQ at Hutton House, grab Martinis at the 18th floor cocktail bar Cocky, with views across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island, and visit what feels like the world’s largest shopping mall by Star Ferry pier.

 

It’s all very lively and buzzing with energy and once our own bodies catch up we’ll let you know.

*** IMPORTANT NOTE TO BETA TESTER CANDIDATES ***

Those of you subscribed to the Jellypods email news service will know you are the special few who will get the chance to be a Jellypods beta tester, receviing on of the first 25 samples for free – we’ll even pay shipping. So if you haven’t signed up yet, you still have time to do so at www.jellypods.com.

But time is running out, and it’s now important that you sign up right away, as tomorrow’s blog will contain the details of the little challenge we are going to set those of you who want to own a beta sample, allowing you to become one of the first people on the planet to have a Jellypods travel bag.

Because we have more subscribers than Jellypods samples, we have set up a small, fair selection process. It will be very simple, with one component that is kind of skill- based, and one that is kind of time-based. Nothing silly, just a little bit of fun adna fair deadline as we have people reading this all over the planet. But miss the window and you miss the chance to be selected!

So stay carefully tuned in the next 24 hours for an email update!

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February 26, 2011

Building a better bag

Posted in Airlines, Business model, Competition, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Strategy at 3:07 pm by Kilo

When we started researching the market for Jellypods, we discovered pretty rapidly that most of the offers available to the frequent traveller today provided solutions that focused on other aspects of the problem. As we went through the process of refining our own product (using the ERIC framework outlined in last week’s blog), we realized that we had ways to be very highly differentiated.

For example, many existing offers use a PVC vinyl bag with a metal zipper that will deteriorate over time and is certainly not 100% waterproof. In other cases the bags themselves were secondary to the main offer – special bottles to hold liquids.

Many of these limitations are enforced due to the use of off-the-shelf bags or bottles that have been re-purposed as travelling bags.

But because Jellypods was designed from a literally blank sheet of paper, we were able to make some deliberate choices during the design process to use more sophisticated raw materials that give Jellypods many advantages.

As examples, we were able to make Jellypods very strong, but still stretchy to accommodate slightly odd shapes; we could embed anti-bacterial agents in the specially-formulated silicone gel; we were able to invent a unique closure mechanism that is both waterproof and doubly-secure; and we were able to use more complex manufacturing processes such as extrusion and liquid injection molding, allowing us to create a something at another level of quality and precision. In all, a Jellypod that will last a lot longer and be more effective in dozens of ways.

Those choices mean that Jellypods are somewhat more expensive to make, but we think that the benefits delivered are well worth the extra cost, and we hope that those choices will make Jellypods stand out and that potential customers will recognize they are getting better value for their money –  a real piece of personal luggage that will last much longer, survive the toughest handling, that can be cleaned really easily and that will protect the traveller from disease and spillage.

Not bad for a funny little bag!

January 9, 2011

Crocs and design patents

Posted in Airlines, Business model, Competition, Luggage, Registered Designs, Trademarks at 10:00 am by Kilo

It’s not widely known, but even if your product is not technically novel, you can register the design – the look and feel – of the product with a special kind of patent or registered design, depending on which part of the world you live in.

And those design patents give you rights to protect you if someone copies your design. There are many examples of companies defending their rights in court using those designs as the basis – Crocs, for example, have successfully prosecuted cases against 11 other companies copying their designs.

Since this process costs nothing more than a few hundred dollars you can imagine we will be registering the final Jellypods designs (and Jellyshells, a new set of ideas) fairly soon.

Incidentally, the Crocs story is one of those stories that is almost too good to be true: 3 guys on a boat sell 1,000 boat shoes at a boating show and within 3 years sales are north of $100m and they have sold more than 6 million pairs of what some people call the ugliest shoes ever invented. Two years later they have raised $208M in an IPO and have sold 50 million pairs.

We’d be happy with a much, much smaller hit, but we do believe that Jellypods is opening a new category in the luggage market in the way Crocs did in footwear, and Jellypods have that slightly quirky design appeal that makes them a polarizing product – you’ll either love them or hate them.

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!