Posts Tagged innovation

A sweet scoop on innovation

Innovative ice cream - Smitten

As a child, I wasn’t allowed to eat ice cream until I was six because I had a history of asthma, and ice cream was on the no-no food list. I am convinced this had a direct impact on my now slightly obsessive relationship with ice cream. When I moved to SF last year, I was overjoyed to find that it was not only me, but the whole city who embraced gourmet ice cream with open arms.

One of the most buzzed about ice cream spots in town is Smitten. I remember the first time I was there, I stood outside the outdoor shed-like store in Hayes Valley, with the incredibly long queue of eager customers looking on with delight as the ice cream counter emitted whimsical puffs of nitrogen vapor as their orders were prepared fresh before their eyes.

Innovative Smitten Ice Cream Store in Hayes

I later learned the inspiring story behind Smitten’s success, one that warms my own heart.  Before Robyn Sue Fisher founded Smitten, she was known as the “ice cream girl” during her time at Stanford Business School.  After graduation, she applied to two jobs: IDEO and the FBI. When IDEO rejected her, she had the choice of either working for the FBI, or making her ice cream dream a reality. Smitten now serves 17,000 happy customers a month.

You would think that ice cream is a relatively simple business to start and run, but Robyn was determined to perfect ice cream through experimenting, iterating, and piloting her ideas quickly.

As she describes her journey, she identified two consumer needs that weren’t being addressed by ice cream makers on the market:

1) Natural and fresh ice cream. The distribution chain ice cream makes it very difficult to keep the products fresh.

2) A true ‘creaminess’ that prior to Smitten, was not on the market yet.

Robyn got “nerdy” about the science of ice cream, and dedicated herself to creating the perfectly smooth consistency of her dream ice cream. This “nerdiness” led to a series of experiments with liquid nitrogen to minimize the size of ice crystals in the ice cream. Starting with a liquid nitrogen machine in her backyard, she then spent the next 2 years in a basement with an engineer partner to keep iterating and perfecting the technology, and then testing the flavors by selling ice cream on streets across San Francisco for 9 months.

When the queues for Smitten ice cream seemed to go on and on, she opened her first store in Hayes Valley out of a repurposed warehouse container, which has now become a much beloved ice cream icon in the city.

So what does Robyn’s Smitten story teach us about innovation?

1. Try quickly, fail quickly, learn, and try again
Many companies get stuck at the innovation process because of fear – fear that the idea is not perfect to launch before you give it a chance to live on. When you try to perfect an idea before you put it in front of consumers, you will have invested too much, too soon, for it to fail. The key to successful innovation is to create small-scale experiments which minimize risk and can be piloted quickly, get real time feedback, then improve and try again, as what Robyn did when she sold batches on the streets of San Francisco. This iterative process actually accelerates innovation success as you build on live feedback and push the idea through.

2. Know your consumers, and deliver beyond their current needs
One of the keys to Smitten’s success was the insistence on breaking from current products in the market. Instead of creating another product that’s incrementally new, Robyn insisted on a whole new approach to ice cream – pushing the science, and offering consumers a completely fresh experience to see their ice cream being created before their own eyes, using only the highest quality ingredients.

3. Lean on passion to push through when the going gets tough
Innovation is a long and difficult journey. For Robyn, it wasn’t until year four before she had any sort of business success, and if it wasn’t for her personal passion for ice cream, Smitten might not be what it is today. For innovation to succeed, there needs to be passion behind the project to push and champion it through when you are met with naysayers and stage gate hurdles. Going after the ideas your team has personal passion for can make the difference between a good idea on a piece of paper, and a real innovation that gets launched.

Smitten’s story is truly inspiring for the innovator in all of us. We look forward to interacting with adventurous innovations sooner, and companies approaching innovation with a truly experimental and iterative mindset.

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts, packaging designs and communications with consumers globally and in real time, please click below:

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Image credit: Wired’s The Blue Bottle of Ice Cream
Image credit: flickr user drbrett (cc)
Image credit: flickr user rotron (cc)

New Wearables Restore a Lost Connection


Technology has a track record of disconnecting us from our bodies. From 9-5, we are hunched over and typing away at our computer desks; during lunch, we crane our necks to check messages on our smart phones; and even when we get home to relax, we stare into our iPads to watch Netflix. Unfortunately, the longer we live in the world of our screens, the longer we are absent from and unaware of the needs of our own bodies, reinforcing bad habits for our health and well being.

In the past few years, researchers have been studying the impact of the physical self on mental and emotional states. You’ve probably heard about how body posture can boost confidence, helping you to perform better in an interview or to nail your next presentation. Or you’ve seen this map of emotions on the body, which is just another example of how emotions are connected to biological responses.

But what’s most interesting is that technology is stepping in to enable people to reconnect with their bodies, a separation which you can say it is responsible for in the first place.

Take, for example, the new wearable device Spire. When clipped to your bra strap or belt loop, it detects when you are tense, and sends notifications to your phone to remind you to step away and breathe. It tracks your breathing patterns and data for you over time, and then actually makes recommendations for how to make real-time changes to your habits. “You’ve been sitting for over an hour, perhaps you should stretch your legs”

There are similar apps out there (Lumolift, for example detects bad posture, and reminds you to sit up straight) that are also trying to take a hold of the tech-wellness space and restore the connection between the mind and the body. This combined with power poses is a recipe for physical health and mental success.

While I’m not sure yet which approach I’d personally take for reconnecting with my physical responses to stress from the many options out there, as a researcher I’m most interested in what the reception of these apps says about shifts in our mindset as a culture, and the fresh ground they are tapping into. There’s a return to the natural and to the balanced, and it’s not exactly tech-free. The shift shows just how deeply dependent on technology we are, that we need to use technology to connect with our most basic functions – like breathing and sitting without hunching over.

There’s still a lot to be explored when it comes to mind-body connection and the role of technology, and I’m excited to see what research will uncover next, and how it will be implemented into other consumer-facing devices.

antedote is an award-winning strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts, packaging designs and communications with consumers globally and in real time, please click below:

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Ballet’s Revitalization


I’ve always been a dancer at heart. As a young dancer, watching a live ballet performance or attending ballet classes were the only ways that I could connect with the world.

When YouTube popped into the scene, the world of ballet became more accessible, and now anyone could experience and engage with the world of ballet from afar, without ever having to step into the theater. Aspiring dancers now have access to footage from real professional ballet classes, foreign documentaries on the lives of ballerinas around the world, and even clips from famous performances.

But ballet is an art, and there’s a great concern in the ballet world that younger generations with short attention spans and a desire for fast paced action-filled adventures are losing interest in the world of classical dance.  And in a lot of ways this is true. Rather than denying this, ballets are expanding efforts to tap into new audiences and to innovate quickly.

Marketers and innovators in any industry can take notes from ballet’s recent efforts to reinvigorate the 400 year old art form.  Here are three points that marketers and innovators can remember when engaging younger generations:

  1. Understand their behavior and create offerings tailored to their needs. SF Ballet recently launched The List – a place for fans ages 21-39 to subscribe to in order to receive updates on last minute tickets to the ballet. New York City Ballet offers tickets for $29 for those under 29. With a generation who makes plans last minute and loves free subscriptions and deals, this is spot on.
  1. Borrow the audience of adjacent categories and leverage trends. One of the best examples of this is Sensorium, an event held by SF Ballet that doesn’t even have ballet in the title. It was marketed as an evening of “sensory overload”, with cocktails, dance, art, and music, and of course, an after party. This event is a perfect example of tapping into trends of memorable experiences that can be shared in real time as bite-sized content.
  1. Create partnerships that promote transparency. Ballerina Project is a beautiful example of this. What started as one photographer’s dream of photographing ballerinas dancing offstage, has grown into a multimedia project that not only showcases the talents and raw emotions of real dancers, but partners with fashion brands to advertise. My personal favorite is the partnership with AG jeans that creatively displays the comfort and flexibility of their denim (this post of a ballerina soaring through the air in AG jeans received over 30k Instagram likes). Ballerina Project has opened up the conversation around dance, fashion, and added a level of transparency to the world of dance.


The world of ballet is thriving more than ever before, and quickly growing its audience, and I hope this is just the start of where ballet will venture. It’s clear that through talking with users and engaging with them directly, marketing teams have created buzz and conversation, without losing the authenticity and power of classical ballet, but rather giving new generations space to influence and engage with the future of the ballet.

Image credit: Ballerina Project

antedote is an award-winning strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumer and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts, packaging designs and communications with consumers globally and in real time, please click below: 

Learn more

The Next Generation Post-It: Magnetic


We’ve been on the Moon, so why can’t we have some ideal paper, instead of using these awful stuff to stick them? — Tesla Amazing

At work we have a love/hate relationship with post-its. These accidental inventions by Dr. Spencer Silver, completely decorate all our walls and glass windows in the office. As satisfying as it is to use the multitudes of colors to organize our thoughts and emerging concepts, it is always painful to try to re-organize and re-stick the post-its when they inevitably start peeling off the walls. You’ve been there.  The rapid ideas are churning out from the conversations, and the facilitator is struggling to tape or tack on the falling post-its or attempt to locate new surfaces to continue the brainstorming.

And it is cause to wonder, why hasn’t someone invented a better tool for these work collaborations?

Enter Magnetic.


The Tesla Amazing team innovated the iconic post-it that offices all over the world use on a daily. Magnetic is an environmentally friendly paper that uses static to stick on to absolutely anything (brick, plastic, metal, leather, etc) sans thumbtacks, tape, glue, etc. Magnetic is re-usuable with its dry eraser backside and comes in 9 colors and 3 sizes.

innovation dry erase magnetic

I am absolutely excited to get my hands on this new invention and improvement of the traditional office supply. To support the campaign for a better working environment, visit Tesla Amazing’s Kickstarter here.

Innovative Post It Wall

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands.

3 Things Innovators Should Consider About Personalization

innovation 3DPrintedOreos 606x385

Personalization has been and continues to be a hot topic with marketing – NYC Media Lab just hosted Personalizationpalooza – and the consumer definition and expectations around it continue to change as technology and tools continue to advance. Mass personalization, whether it’s creating your own Nike IDs or crowd-sourced innovation like Lay’s Do Us a Flavor or more recently at SXSW, 3D printing Oreo cookie flavors based on what’s trending on Twitter, has become the norm for consumers. All of this is starting to not only change consumer expectations, but also disrupt the new product development (NPD) process.

What are some aspects of personalization that we need to consider when it comes to innovation?

1) It’s not about choice, but rather relevance

Consumers aren’t necessarily looking for a breadth of choice when it comes to products and services – they’re seeking out the offerings that feel as if they were created specifically for their life and that align with their values. So when it comes to innovation, it’s important to focus efforts on creating products that can facilitate an emotional connection by demonstrating to the consumer that “we get you”. One of the easiest ways of establishing that connection is through consumer research that is designed to really unearth explicit and implicit motivations to get to the unrealized and unmet needs of the consumer.

2) Speed to market is more important than ever

As technology product cycles continue to set the point of reference for consumers when it comes to innovation and new products, the expectations around how quickly and frequently new product launches occur has fundamentally changed. When it comes to NPD, getting creative and leveraging nontraditional tools like 3D printers can lower associated capital investment and facilitate micro-scale experiments that not only gather consumer data and insights, but also can generate buzz for the brand.

3) Deconstructing the pieces to give consumers the tools

With the influence of the Maker Movement, more consumers are embracing a return to “making” products themselves, whether it’s buying the raw ingredients to create their own cleaning solutions or implementing hacks to personalize Ikea furniture. There’s an opportunity for companies to embrace this trend and provide consumers all of the pieces and tools that they need in order to “make” your product at home. In doing so, the consumers will have a stronger sense of ownership and pride for the finished product, having been a “co-creator” in the making process. Taking inspiration from the meal subscription services like Blue Apron that curate and deliver to your home all the ingredients that one needs to prepare a meal, what are some ways that you can deconstruct one of your current products? What are the components that consumers would be able to prep or assemble on their own?

By tapping into the latest consumer and technology trends and understanding the underlying factors that play in consumer affinity for customization and personalization, brands can play their cards right during the NPD process and successfully win the hearts of their consumers.

Watch out Apple! Why you should care about the Chinese phenomenon Xiaomi


While all eyes are on Apple and the impending launch of iWatch on April 24th, Chinese phone and gadgets maker Xiaomi announced in February that they are entering the US market, first with their mi band (basically a USD30 Fitbit that gets the job done and looks pretty sweet) and accessories including battery banks and headphones.

Their secret weapon? A killer combination of cut-throat prices and smart, beautiful design.

For those who haven’t heard of Xiaomi yet, you should.  They just beat Samsung and Apple to be the biggest smartphone maker in China last year. That is an impressive feat considering the company is less than 5 years old.  Xiaomi has already launched in India, Singapore, and the Philippines, and is planning to enter other major Asian markets as well as Brazil, Mexico and other parts of South America.  The level of fanaticism from Xiaomi fans rivals or even surpasses that of Apple.  And Xiaomi fans are not limited to China, as witnessed through one of my clients from Belgium: the first thing he did when he was in Shanghai for a project was order a Xiaomi 3 phone to take back with him.

Needless to say, I am in love with Xiaomi.  On my recent visit to Hong Kong, I managed to snap a pair of rose gold Xiaomi headphones, with top of the line specs and beautiful design, all for HKD129 ($15).   I’m still speechless everyday by the quality product I got for the unbelievably low price tag.

While I do love Apple’s minimalistic and intuitive design aesthetic (I am a mac and iphone user) I feel like I am being brainwashed to think that I need and desire a $350+ iWatch, but I’m still not sold.  I was surprised to discover that Apple’s SVP of Design Jony Ive gets chauffeured in a Bentley and is friends with Chris Martin, Stephen Fry, and Paul Smith, which partially explain his vision and luxury aesthetic for the iWatch.  On the other hand, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun stays true to his humble beginnings, and has been known to criticize Apple for dictating what the consumer wants next, instead of listening to their feedback.

The philosophy behind Xiaomi’s success is that slick, beautiful design doesn’t have to be expensive, and should be accessible to everyone.  Xiaomi listens to their consumers, and gives them exactly what they want, but with design, specs, and prices that surpass their expectations.

When thinking about innovation, I’m constantly inspired by the fact that Xiaomi has proven that design, quality, and good value don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and you don’t have to be part of an elite consumer segment to feel like you belong to a tribe.

Their focus on the consumer has definitely paid off.

I’m excited to see where Xiaomi is headed next.  I’m definitely keeping an eye on how the US and other international markets respond to Xiaomi products, and will be eagerly tracking their next big innovations.  Watch out world, Xiaomi is ambitious and is ready for global domination!

Xiaomi Innovation

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Image credits
flickr user jonrussell (cc)
flickr user: worldleaks (cc)

Virtual Reality takes you inside the mind of a schizophrenic


The internet is flooding with the buzz around virtual reality technology and the huge tech giants who are trying to dominate the space. Facebook bought Oculus Rift. Samsung launched Gear VR. Microsoft debuted HoloLens.

But in the midst of all the chatter, I had came across an innovative use of virtual reality that piqued my interest because it was used for purposes beyond gaming culture, beyond better ways to make shooting zombies more realistic.

What was refreshing about this project was that the virtual reality headset was used to help build empathy for a stigmatized group who is hard to understand.

In the Daily Dot article, Selena Larson describes her uneasy but eye-opening experience using the Oculus Rift in a simulation project called “Mindscape”. Viscira designed the simulation for a pharmaceutical company to help their potential clients understand how schizophrenia feels like. And unlike audio tests or videos, the immersive experience produces a deeper and longer impact on the user.

In the simulation, Larson walks into an elevator for a job interview and hears whispers inside her own head and from strangers, telling her “You will fail”. And even though she knew the entire experience was fake, she couldn’t help but feel completely uncomfortable, even after the headset was taken off.

With the recent hype around virtual reality, I look forward to seeing how the technology will be leveraged in industries like healthcare, pharma or research. Beyond gaming and entertainment, industries which most people associate with virtual reality, there are huge opportunities for virtual reality and other emerging technologies be used to solve tough industry challenges, gain deeper insights into people’s behaviors, and help us transform the way we think and live as humans.


antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

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Kusakabe – Innovation in Sushi

sushi innovation at kusakabe

sushi innovation kusakabe

When is comes to innovation we can learn a lot from chefs who create restaurants and menus that push our concept and relationship with food.

One such chef is Mitsunori Kusakabe, who recently opened up his very own restaurant in San Francisco, after his stunts as executive chef at the Michelin-starred Sushi Ran in Sausalito and the executive chef of Nobu in Miami Beach.

Recently I ate at Chef Kusakabe’s new namesake restaurant, which could easily be considered the trendiest sushi spot in San Francisco right now, having been the newest restaurant to earn a Michelin star in the city.

My experience at Kusakabe was unexpected in many delightful ways. When you walk in, the ambiance is completely unpretentious and welcoming, as opposed to the sometimes intimidating sushi joints where the “sushi nazi” yells at you for dipping the sushi into soy sauce. Also, contributing to the serene and hospitable ambiance is the sustainable interior design, with its beautiful wooden bar made of a 30 foot slab of solid elm.

But of course the most unexpected and delightful part of the experience, was the menu itself (see video below for a 60 second tasting menu).

Chef Kusakabe’s innovation that has won his restaurant fame is to apply kaiseki principles and techniques to sushi. Kaiseki is reminiscent of Western haute cuisine, characterized by its meticulous preparation of multi-course dishes. And whereas sushi could sometimes be included in kaiseki-styled menus, no one has ever applied the principles to sushi itself, until now.

The kaiseki philosophy emphasizes “five colors” (white, purple, yellow, red, green), “five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy)”, “five senses”(smell, taste, sight, hearing, touch), and “five methods” (roasted, boiled, fried, simmered and raw).

A fan of sushi, I was excited to see how Chef Kasakube could incorporate many different elements in his sushi servings. It’s fish on top of rice. How crazy could it really get? After the course began,  I looked at my boyfriend with happy bewilderment, and our faces acknowledged the unexpected flavors and textures that revealed themselves after we placed the sushi in our mouths.

These thoughtful masterpieces by Chef Kasukabe is an inspirational demonstration of the unforgettable experience that is possible when you challenge preexisting concepts and strive to delight your customer with the unexpected.

Kasakube sushi innovation

innovation sushi

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

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Podo: In-the-Moment Capturing for Research

insights research camera

insights camera

Good-bye selfie stick!

Podo, the world’s first ‘stick and shoot’ app-controlled camera was released on Kickstarter, garnering much media attention from the likes of Tech Crunch, PSFK, GigaOm, and The New Web.

Podo is compact enough to slip into your pocket, and allows you take instant photos, videos, time lapses and double exposures by just sticking the small device on to any solid surface (wood, glass, cement, etc.) and then using the free app to snap (see the video below). Its popularity and need is evident by the campaign reaching its goal of $50,000 in just 16 hours.

Podo has already garnered several awards including “Top Startup” at the Plug and Play Accelerator and a “Global Brains Award” at the Global Brains Summit, but [President] Eddie Lee most looks forward to seeing how people use Podo. “I’m really curious to see what other people come up with, when cameras aren’t limited by the reach of our arms,” he says. “I think this will allow people to be creative and spontaneous.” – PSFK

In research, self-recording by consumers is usually limited to at-home environment where they can self- record using their laptop camera or to usually blurry, unusable footage with their mobile phone camera that can only capture as far as their arm goes.

Now with the availability of the Podo, researchers can expand the scenarios from which they can retrieve photos and footage from consumers. As we move as an industry towards real-time research, simple devices like Podo that encourage living in and capturing the moment will be tapped by researchers as a quick and easy tool to analyze human behavior in its entire context.

We are also excited to see what other creative uses other industries will make from the Podo.

Support Eddie Lee’s Kickstarter campaign here.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

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Binaural Audio Technology

The popular tech outlet Verge released a fascinating video demonstrating binaural recordings.

Different from mono, stereo, and surround sound, binaural audio is truly three dimensional and creates an immersive experience where the listener actually feels like she is physically in the scene that is taking place.

The Verge video takes you on a walk through Times Square, New York, and you can hear people bustling and talking past your left and right.

It also takes you to a virtual barbershop, where you can hear the barber snipping your hair behind you and on the sides. The feeling is oddly creepy when you turn around to see no one there.

Fascinated by the video, I was surprised to find out that binaural audio is actually a century old technology dating back to the late 1800’s. It’s recent hype however is largely due to its needed role in creating the ultimate immersive experience during the virtual reality battles (Facebook’s Oculus VR, Samsung’s Gear VR, Microsoft’s HoloLens).

At antedote, we thrive on leveraging technology to uncover new insights and drive innovation for our clients. As virtual reality becomes even more refined and more realistic, with moves to incorporate 3d audio, researchers can look forward to leveraging the technology to create truly immersive experiences for subjects in conceptual scenarios, without spending money or time creating physical prototypes.

So sit back, put on your headphones, and enjoy the video (above).

You will be amazed by how much you can trick your brain to feel like you are in a place that you are not.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

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Dieting in a world of technology and “holistic health”



For the first time in about 15 years, I’m on a diet.

This diet is loud, proud, and unashamed of what it us. Unlike the “cleanses” and “detoxes” I’ve undertaken in the past decade, this time I’m happy to call it what it is. Last night my friend offered me some pizza, and I just looked at him with disdain. “You know I’m on a diet”.

My open acceptance of my current diet was spurred on by an office weight loss challenge as part of DietBet, a website/app that runs “games”, challenging participants to lose a set percent of their body weight by a specific date. In our challenge, each player puts down $30 that they will lose 4% of their body weight in 4 weeks. All weigh-ins are private and digital, using code words of the day and pictures taken in mirrors to ensure that players aren’t cheating. By the final weigh-in, if you haven’t lost the weight, you get no money back – and those who have lost it get to split the pot.

How is DietBet getting away with encouraging dieting-out-loud, in this era of love-your-body and holistic wellness? They’re able to safely break the rules by tapping into some of the existing mega trends of the moment:

  • It’s completely curated by and for the person. There are no rules, no pace you have to follow, no regimented food lists or exercise plans. Each player has to decide how they want to play the game.
  • It’s also self-motivated. No one is checking in on you or pushing you (except the “Daily Carrot” emails); players have to push themselves to the finish line.
  • On the other hand, it leverages the power of social, encouraging folks to share their experiences and empower each other with motivation.
  • It challenges players to create stakes, betting real money on tangible results – raising the importance of the challenge for each player.
  • It also gamifies the challenge, with titles and prizes for inviting friends and weighing in.

By leveraging these trends, DietBet is making it okay to diet again, and, for me, it’s certainly taking some of the shame away from “diet”. At least now I can tell it like it is – to my friends, and to myself. Plus, I’m well on my way to my goal!

How can your category break some of its “rules” by tapping into current beliefs and trends?

Image credit: flickr user camknows (cc)

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Honey Innovation: Flow, the Revolutionary Beehive

Innovation Honey

Recently, father and son beekeepers, Stuart and Cedar Anderson, from Australia got the beekeeping community buzzing when they introduced an innovation to transform the way honey is harvested.

The father and son duo had invented a revolutionary hive, Flow, that doesn’t disturb the bees and allows the honey to flow out into a jar like water from a faucet.

Depictions of humans collecting honey from bees date to about 15,000 years ago. And the methods of harvesting honey always been a very labor-intensive, traditionally taking 3-4 hours. However with Flow, you can get honey within 20 minutes. It is no wonder that the innovation sold over $1.7 million in 1 day.

“Harvesting your honey used to be a real labor of love. First you had to protect yourself from stings; Fire up a smoker to sedate the bees; Crack the hive open; Lift heavy boxes; Pull out the frames, trying not to squash bees; Brush the bees off the combs, or use a leaf blower; Transport the frames to a processing shed; Cut the wax capping off each frame with a heated knife or automatic uncapping machine; Put them in an extractor to spin out the honey; Filter out all the wax and dead bees; Clean up all the mess.”


This is a beautiful example of abandoning traditional methods that have been around for years and thinking creatively to make the process more efficient. After a decade of hard work and persistence, the duo is able to share their passion with others and allow for a less stressful relationship between beekeepers and bees.


antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

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Hacking the Microwave: Innovation in the Kitchen

The microwave has stayed pretty much the same since it was first created over 40 years ago.

We came across this creative hack for a “better microwave” by Mark Rober who was tired of having to remove his frozen burrito from the microwave and cut it open just to check if was thoroughly heated, and if was not, to put it back in again.

Been there? We know we have, and so we were excited by his solution.

Check out the short video above as Rober shows how he uses infrared technology to innovate the way we microwave.

At antedote, we love tapping into existing technologies to create fresh solutions to challenges we have in the field, and enjoy following fellow innovators like Rober hack together clever but simple innovations for age old problems.



antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tool, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

How to Discover Hot New iPhone Apps Using Pinterest

With so many apps popping up daily it’s hard to discover ones I’m really interested in – particularly because if I’m just browsing “top new apps” or “top charts” it’s often irrelevant to my personal interests – especially when I’m constantly running out of space on my iPhone.

That’s why I was excited to learn that Apple partnered with Pinterest to create app pins so you can download apps directly from Pinterest. It’s such a simple innovation – but one that inspires discovery in a personally meaningful way. I particularly like the simplicity of the boards they’ve created so I can follow areas I’m interested in and learn about new apps popping up in that area without much effort on my part.

For example, I was checking out healthy recipes for the weekend and learned about an app called The Whole Pantry, which shares recipes that are part of my bigger wellness goals.

Now I can get inspired and find a way to engage in the same moment.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest innovation platform, please click below for a free demo:

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A Gastronomical Virtual Reality Experience


Gastronomical Innovation

Project Nourished by Kokiri Labs is a fascinating project that attempts to re-create the full sensory experience of eating, sans the actual food. Intended to help people with allergies and dietary restrictions, the project is a curious exploration into how different technologies can be combined to simulate the eating experience.

By combining an Oculus Virtual Reality headset, food detection utensils, motion sensor, and aromatic diffusers, Kokiri Labs hopes to allow people with food related illnesses to eat to their heart’s content, without the negative consequences.


Allergic to seafood, but want to eat prawns? No problem!

Diabetic, but want to eat a strawberry pie? Why not!


The project was actually inspired by the Lost Boy’s imaginary feast scene in the heart warming 1990s movie, Hook (check out the clip below).

Although a seemingly far-fetched solution, we love how this idea taps into the latest technology and pushes for innovative ways of thinking to solve problems. We look forward to seeing how this project evolves and how other labs use emerging technologies like Virtual Reality to solve other existing challenges.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tool, please click below for a free demo:

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Top 10 Sites to Inspire Innovation

Inspiring Innovation

Inspiring Innovation

When caught in the daily grind, it is easy to get stuck in a rut. Where do you go to breathe fresh perspective into your work?

Here are our 10 top favorite sites that we turn to to get our creative juices flowing and inspire us to think outside the box. Enjoy!

(1) Notcot : Visually stunning, creative, innovative, compelling

(2) Zen Habits : Mentally clear through the clutter of the day

(3) MIT Technology Review : Understanding the ever-changing tech-driven world

(4) Seth Godin’s Blog : Thought-provoking words for marketers

(5) Fubiz : The best in contemporary creative culture

(6) Life-Edited : Moving towards efficiency

(7) Behance : Showcases the work of artists around the world

(8) Pinterest : Beautiful snapshot of our culture in all categories

(9) Imgur : The internet’s most popular visual stories

(10) Swiss-Miss : Curated quotes, products, and talks that will warm the heart

Big Hero 6 – Celebrating the Maker


I finally watched Disney’s latest animation hit based after the Marvel comic, Big Hero 6, which takes place in the amalgamous city “SanFransokyo” and stars a talented 14 year old robotocist, Hiro Hamada, and his budding friendship with his robot, Baymax.

Beyond the pride of seeing recognizable structures from the city I love and live in, I absolutely enjoyed and appreciated the beautiful storytelling of what can happen when passion, purpose, and an innovative mindset are used for the betterment of society.

Unlike other super heroes of past animated Disney movies (like Incredibles), this team is a quirky group of self-acclaimed “nerds” from the pseudo “SF Tech of Institute”.  They don’t have super powers like super strength or invisibility. Their super powers come from their intellect, curiosity, creativity, and their commitment to innovation.

True markers of a Maker.

Makers, the global movement of independent hackers, artists and inventors creating their own goods, are being recognized for pushing the barriers of innovation. Makers are stretching category definitions and changing consumers’ relationships with and expectations of products and services – from the taste and sensory experience through to the emotional connection and layers of engagement.

Last year, we talked about how channeling a Maker mindset and using their principles can spark innovation within your company. Check out our tips on How to Apply Maker’s Principles Within Your Organization.

It is refreshing to see these principles portrayed in the mainstream by the animated characters of Disney’s latest hit. From the first scenes, we are introduced to the team’s love for technology: Wasabi’s addiction to lasers, Go-Go’s passion for magnetic levitation, Honey Lemon’s experimentation with chemical reactions, and of course protagonist Hiro’s obsession for robotics.

We can be excited that the next generation of kids can look up to and admire the new modern day superheroes of our time. And they will not be the one donning capes and masks. They will be the inventors and the tinkerers, innovating a better future for society through their creativity and passion.


antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tool, please click below for a free demo:

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Travel Innovation: Virtual Reality Takes Off


An industry first, Qantas Airways together with Samsung recently introduced a 360 degree Virtual Reality experience for their travelers. Now on select flights, First Class travelers will be able to be transport to any virtual world (imagine immersing yourself in your favorite blockbuster movie or exploring tourist sites of your final destination before you even land) during their long 14 hour flight from Australia to Los Angeles.

At antedote, we thrive on tapping into the newest technology to uncover new insights and drive innovation for our clients. That is why we love watching how different sectors integrate emerging technology and are following the evolution of this exciting new medium as it moves from gaming to travel.

As virtual reality becomes even more refined and more realistic, researchers can also look forward to leveraging the technology to create immersive experiences for subjects in conceptual scenarios, without spending money or time creating physical prototypes.


Kodak’s New Immersive Video


Kodak recently introduced the Kodak Pixpro SP360, which can capture a 360 degree view of an event.

Although the gadget could still use some refinement, as researchers, we are excited for the possibilities that the Kodak Pixpro SP 360 will bring to the field. Other recording devices like the GoPro can only record one aspect of an action at a time, but with the palm-sized Kodak PixPro SP360, researchers can capture what a person is doing as well as their own reaction in the surrounding environment. Around the table group interviews would also be possible to record, documenting the entire group’s dynamic. In the future, immersive video will be a great tool for researchers to use to analyze human behavior in its entire context.


Can Sound Wash Your Clothes? Dolfi Laundry Innovation

Can sound wash your clothes?

With the Dolfi, it is possible! German entrepreneur Lena Solis introduced the “next gen washing device” that uses ultrasonic technology to clean your clothes.  This portable soap-sized gadget blasts off the dirt from your clothes sans washing machine within only 30 minutes. Perfect for traveling or getting stains off a delicates that you would not want to destroy in the washer, Dolfi is set to change the way we clean our clothes.

The Dolfi is a fantastic example of leveraging technology pervasive in certain verticals (ultrasound is frequently used in medicine for sonography or surgical equipment cleaning) to solve a problem in an unrelated vertical (in this case, household laundry).

At antedote, we stay abreast of creative mash-ups like these because we believe in the power of tapping into existing technologies in new ways to drive innovation for our clients.

Food Innovation: Sriracha Hot Stout Beer anyone?


Sriracha Hot Stout Beer anyone?

I’m a huge fan of tantalizing the taste buds with weird and unusual mash-ups of flavors. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Sriracha has been all the rage among foodies. Consumers love the spicy sauce, and it is rumored (but from my personal experience proven!) to be good on anything and everything. I’ve witnessed my friends put Sriracha sauce on anything from fries and pizza to salad and even donuts.

As a lover of Sriracha I was amused and very curious to hear that a brewery decided to debut an interesting food innovation – the Sriracha Hot Stout Beer.

The team at AdWeek decided to test out this new concoctions. Check out their individual reactions.

If you still haven’t gotten enough of Sriracha, here are a few food items that you can explore:

Sriracha Kettle Chips
Sriracha Peas
Sriracha PopcornSriracha Lay’s
Sriracha Bacon Jerky
UV Sriracha
Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt

And if you suffer from Sriracha withdrawals, there is now even a portable 4.5 inch Sriracha bottle keychain for you to ensure you have your sauce at every meal.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Innovations of CES 2015

It’s that crazy time in January where herds of technophiles truck to Las Vegas to check out the latest innovations at the biggest tech show of the year. Here is our list of the Good, the Bad, and the downright Ugly gadgets at CES 2015.

The Good


Withings Activité Popo: a fashionable smart watch that you actually would want to wear.

Curie: Intel’s magic button that is super small and packed with sensors and Bluetooth. Will the marriage of fashion + tech finally take off?

Roost Battery: this battery turns any device into a connected one, like your smoke alarm.

Nixie: the evolution of the selfie stick is apparently the wearable drone. Now you can properly document your rock-climbing adventures for Facebook.

The Bad 

Information sent from a Parrot Pot is shown on a tablet during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
Parrot Pot: the way overly connected potted plant.

CES 2015
Baby Glgl: $100 smart baby bottle to tell you… how much you’re feeding your baby.

The Ugly

Belty, the bulky smart belt that tightens and loosens to match your waistline needs. Thanksgiving dinners- no problem!

Rocketskates: go 10 miles per hour with these anything but discreet skates.

From the Antedote Library: Top 6 Books for Innovators


To help us to jump forward into the New Year, we like to reflect on the huge contributions made by those who have come before us to advance humanity.

Here are the top 6 Books for the Innovator and Entrepreneur in your life from the Antedote Library:

The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
Learn about the amazing innovators who sparked the digital revolution beginning in the 1840s.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Learn how we form and break habits.

How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson
A history of innovation over centuries.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Paypal cofounder presents a new way to think about innovation.

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
Google’s big wigs’ multilayered guidebook.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things
VC firm Andreessen Horowitz co-founder addresses the most difficult aspects on building a business.

Lessons in innovation from the movie Interstellar

interstellar poster

It’s always fun to review the greatest movie moments of the year.   I’m sure you’ve seen one of the many movie mashups for 2014. One of my favourite movies this year was Interstellar. I went into the theatre without reading any previews or spoilers, and left the cinema a little mind blown by the creativity, suspense, and fantastic storytelling of the film that held me captivated for its entire 169 minutes.

Being an innovation enthusiast, I came across a great article on unexpected lessons in innovation from Interstellar. In the article, Fard Johnmar highlights 4 lessons in innovation from the movie. Innovation requires Diversity, Passion, Imagination, and a bit of Luck.

These are definitely true – Innovation requires open minds, personal passion, and expansive thinking.  However, innovation is not all about fun and creativity and letting your mind run wild. It also requires a lot of hard work and dedication to make them happen.  I’m going to add 3 more innovation lessons I picked up that ring true in the movie Interstellar (stop now if you haven’t watched the movie yet, spoilers ahead!).

1. Innovation requires aligning personal motives and having a common goal.

In the movie, the team who went up into space each had different motives for going.  Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) wanted a better future for his children.  Amelia (Anne Hathaway) wanted to see Edmunds again.  Beyond these personal agendas, they were united with a common goal to save earth from it’s fate.

In a lot of ways, the members of your innovation project team may have their own personal hopes, aspirations, and agendas of what they want to achieve from a project (such as getting a promotion, protecting brand share, leaving a legacy, or meeting targets).  They need to be united by a compelling and clear common vision to drive them forward in one direction.

2. Innovation requires dedication and continuous iteration to improve and push ideas through

In the movie, Professor John Brand dedicates his life trying to solve the equation that will enable NASA to launch its massive space stations via gravity, but concludes it cannot be solved.  It was only when Murphy reexamines Brand’s equation that she discovers it could work with additional data from a black hole’s singularity.

From what I’ve seen in most innovation projects, having initial ideas is the easy part.  The more challenging part is to keep building early ideas, and pushing them forward with momentum through various stage gates, winning buy in from stakeholders, and keeping them alive as you continuously improve them.  The first idea you have may have promise, but it needs to be protected, refined, and given time to grow before it becomes a fully fleshed out idea that is successful.

3. Innovation requires sacrifice and taking risks

In Interstellar, Cooper has to make a very difficult decision to leave his children behind to join the mission, not knowing whether he will see them again.  This sacrifice was vital for any hope to find a solution to save earth from its destitute future.

Similarly, for innovation to succeed, risks often have to be taken.  Whether it’s giving up on an easier, ‘quick win’ opportunity, or reallocating budget from current cash cows to push your innovation forward, there is always a risk that your innovation may fail, but without taking the risk, it will never appear in the market, and you will never know whether it works or not.

To all the innovators out there who live these lessons day in and day out, we salute you!  Here’s to an even more innovative 2015.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn more about antedote’s latest tools for innovation, please click below for a free demo:

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40 Days of Dating

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 1.42.18 PM

They say it takes 40 days to change a habit. And that’s just what two friends attempt to do when they agree to date each other for 40 days.

As a qualitative researcher, I’m always looking to uncover the most meaningful insights – and there are plenty of insightful nuggets you can take away from this read. I personally love the fact that we get a glimpse into one of the most common experiences of human existence – dating – and we get to view it through both pairs of eyes.

It’s fascinating to see how two people, sharing the same experience, can walk away from it with different things in focus. As a sucker for all things related to love stories I was hooked from day one. Even if you’re not – I think the way they told their story is an excellent example of sharing something complex in a simple, beautiful way.

The way they recorded their experience was based on an agreed set of journal questions that they would answer daily. This simple set-up made for an easy read that kept me engaged and not only helped me feel more connected to Jessie & Tim but also made it easy to quickly notice where differences in their perceptions occurred. I often think of innovation as meaning “simplification,” and 40 Days of Dating demonstrates a unique way of storytelling that exemplifies this for me.

Antedote Wins Best Innovation – MRS Awards 2014

MRS Awards 2014 Best Innovation

We are delighted to take home the 2014 MRS Award for Best Innovation for discovering fresh insight in a crowded marketplace. MRS (Market Research Society) is the world’s leading research association and its annual awards recognizes leaders in the industry and the power of research to inspire change and deliver results.

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists!

And to sign up to learn more information on Antedote’s latest innovation tools click below:

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Pizza Hut Innovation: The “Subconscious Menu”


Pizza Hut’s Menu Innovation

It’s always fun to see new technology being used in new and unexpected places. One fascinating area where the latest eye-tracking technology is being experimented with is at the pizza joint. Pizza Hut recently joined Swedish Company Tobii Technology in launching a new menu innovation called the “Subconscious Menu”. The technology syncs with the consumers’ eyes, and based on where their eyes had rested the longest on a tablet screen that displays the chain’s 20 most popular ingredients, it creates your “perfect pizza” in 2.5 seconds, without the consumer ever having to say a word. Pizza Hut claims that they currently have an astounding success rate of 98%.

As eye-tracking becomes more refined and gets more traction in marketing, we are excited for the infinite possibilities that will emerge when leveraging new technology in research to discover more insights into human behavior.

Twelve Tools for a Productive Holiday Season

There are a lot of tools and apps in the marketplace that are deemed to help us be quicker and more efficient. Being huge proponents of not only innovating in our clients’ projects, but also innovating the way we work and run our own business, we have curated a list of some of our tools that we have found helpful in making an impact on our own productivity. In the spirit of the holidays, we would like to share them with you.

(1) On the first day of the holidays, Antedote found for me … 

Post-it Plus app … a brilliant way to instantly digitize our post-its ideas during innovation workshops.

(2) On the second day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Flux … a software that changes the computer display light to help our eyes and our minds adjust to whatever time zone we are in to keep the jetlag at bay.

(3) On the third day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Moleskine iPad Cover … an iPad case that allows us to embrace our analog ways, but still stay plugged to the digital world.

(4) On the fourth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Stellar app … a stunning medium to bring to life engaging stories, combining photo, video, and text.

(5) On the fifth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

A Microsoft Word Egg … a hidden gem in the “Notebook” function of Microsoft Word, where we can record audio that syncs along with our typing so that by clicking on a certain word, we are able hear what was being said at that specific time.

(6) On the sixth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Asana  a project manager’s best friend that makes collaboration with a global team easy.

(7) On the seventh day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Waygo app … a perfect app during our research abroad for translating images of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters into English with the snap of a photo.

(8) On the eighth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Instacart … a grocery delivering service that makes sure we are well fed at the office for an ideal work-life balance.

(9) On the ninth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

VSCO Cam app  a quick and portable way to shoot and manipulate film-like photos from the mobile phone, sans DSLR and laptop.

(10) On the tenth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Evernote  an evolved note-taking and filing system that allows us to easily record and organize our thoughts, inspiration, and insights from handwritten notes, internet articles, voice memos, or photos that strike us throughout the day, inside and outside the office.

(11) On the eleventh day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Goodnight iPad … a nostalgic reminder in our buzzing digital age to power down at the end of the day.

(12) On the twelfth day of the holidays, Antedote found for me …

Pre-access to the latest in innovative research (insights) and innovation technology tools … To keep in the loop and get a preview for the launch of our newest product in the coming new year that had won us the 2014 MRS Award for Best Innovation, click below.

Happy Holidays One and All!

Bubble Gum Broccoli? McDonald’s Food Innovation Fail

bubble gum broccoli innovation fast food fail

As McDonald’s faces pressure to revive their sales as they lose their consumers to healthier fast-casual options like Chipotle, who promotes organic and local sourcing, they are moving on multiple fronts to stay relevant, and ultimately thrive in an increasingly health-conscious world.

Bubble Gum Flavored Broccoli” is one thing that McDonald’s has discovered not to do.

This wacky food mashup was a front-runner in McDonald’s attempt to get kids to eat vegetables, with CEO Don Thompson sharing the breakthrough publicly at a VC event. However, unsurprisingly enough, they soon realized that adding sweet flavoring to a vegetable wouldn’t make it any more appetizing to kids who were absolutely confused by the flavor.

The crunchy cruciferous has always been a hard sell with growing palates, and in the past they’ve been smothered with sauces far and wide to make them easier to eat. Broccoli has been whirled into green juices and hidden away with other natural flavors to make a tasty drink. We can imagine that McDonald’s saw a number of benefits with the reflavoring including cost, exclusivity and an offering that fits in the “healthy” category. Since we don’t know how this concoction was created (through additional flavorings or genetics), they’ve left open the door for blowback from related to GMO concerns, ridicule by healthy food advocates and parents that are trying to get their children to explore new tastes and textures.

McDonald’s needs to better understand its own consumers in order to focus their product development efforts. Throwing oddities like bubble gum broccoli at a wall to see what sticks may not be the most efficient way to launch successful innovations.

What emotional and social factors drive people to and away from McDonald’s? What opportunities are there for McDonald’s to encourage healthier eating from their menu? How can the brand launch innovations that support a healthier image that overshadows their “Super Size Me” scar?

To innovate and survive in an increasingly health-conscious world, fast food and casual dining restaurants need to gain consumer insights that can help to identify the best opportunities to stay one step, or multiple steps ahead of the curve for their brand. Consumer understanding is the key, and McDonald’s needs to take their insight to the next level to avoid public missteps as they work to transition their brand.


The 5 Mindsets of Makers

We met with Parker in her Oakland home. She welcomed us as friends and took us to the second floor of her home to chat. We met her cat and sat down in a dining room with an unusual feature —a small refrigerator of raw hair care products buzzing in the corner. The wall was bedecked with comics and drawings, and Parker sat in front of our other host, a hulking mechanical robot statue (an inheritance from her dad). Parker’s home was, to put it mildly, a place of creativity and independence.

“It’s part of life. You take chances; you’re going to fail. It’s part of being an entrepreneur, part of being an artist. Not everyone is going to like it or get it. I want to do something positive, I want to create value. I’m all about creating value for other people and I think I can do that in a way that creates value for me.”

Parker is a maker. She structures her entire life around being able to work with her hands and create things that connect her to other people. She works out of her own home as a hair stylist and is also the lead developer on Persephone, a natural hair care line based in Berkeley that incorporates local eggs, beer, and other raw ingredients. In her so-called spare time, Parker works as a graphic designer and experiments with her next venture: a line of luxurious, sun-protecting and vegan body balms.

Makers have created extraordinary things and even created non-existent categories, and they are clearly doing something right. Most notably in recent months, Palmer Luckey, 21-year-old inventor of Oculus Rift, sold his business to Facebook for two billion dollars. Similarly, Eric Migicovsky, creator of Pebble, took his company to Kickstarter and raised $10.3 million en route to pioneering a category he began tinkering with in his college dorm room a decade earlier. Stories like theirs are neither hard to come by nor exclusive to tech — if anything, it’s the rare industry that hasn’t in some way felt the impact of the emerging and innovative Maker movement.

The lessons that innovation leaders inside large corporations should draw from Makers, however, have been as muddy as the visions of these individual practitioners tend to be crystal clear. In many cases, the primary recourses have been acquisition or fast following — neither of which are sustainable strategies. This is why we at antedote undertook a study of Makers earlier this summer, conducting a series of interviews to tap into the patterns and habits of Makers like Parker that could help to guide the rest of us. What we found was far more than the stereotypical lone tinkerer in the garage. We found networks of driven individuals who love to create and share — and it is those networks that fuel their innovation.

At first glance, Parker herself is an entirely independent person—she works from home a lot of the time, she’s started multiple of her own businesses—but as we spoke with her, we realized that making for her was about creating a connection with other people. This fits a pattern among great innovators. As Professor Andrew Hargadon of UC Davis has noted in How Breakthroughs Happen, innovation is an inherently social process: individuals working on entirely different things link up and generate new, breakthrough ideas. Makers aren’t lone geniuses—they’re connected in a shared ecosystem for innovation.

Through closer examination of these Makers’ networks and behavioral tendencies, we identified five mindsets that these groups tap into to drive their work. Moreover, these mindsets of Makers reside in the people who already work in large organizations. Companies that can unlock and channel these energies through incentive, careful structuring, and ecosystem development can access new innovation opportunities — and make their teams a whole lot happier, too.




Who they are: The Advocate is someone who drives efforts forward and champions others, carefully selecting what to champion based on broad-based but relatively shallow knowledge of many different fields. They are the most outcome-focused of the makers, and often create frameworks and environments for other makers to thrive.

How to ID them: Look for enjoyment of knowledge in a wide range of topics and a natural drive to teach and share with others.

How they thrive: This is the person who love to be in contact with as many people as possible—as they spread ideas and thrive in an environment where they can show people the possibilities.

Examplar from our research: Marilyn: a co-founder of a cooperative marker space in San Francisco, has worked as a fashion designer, an author, and an illustrator but is most passionate about equipping others to become makers themselves.


Who they are: The Engineer is the skillful experimenter. They approach problems head on and trust that they have the expertise to find solutions, or can learn along the way. They don’t fear failure, in part because to them the greatest failure is in missing out on the chance to solve an exciting problem.

How to ID them: Look for a person with deep skill in their field of work, someone who gets excited about using and creating new tools that can fuel the creativity of themselves and others.

How they thrive: They are at their finest when exchanging ideas with other skilled makers to produce breakthrough solutions around challenging technical questions.

Examplar from our research: Marek: a roboticist and homebrewer who is as proud of the partially automated and robot-enabled brewing system he helped to design and construct as he is of any specific beer he’s ever made.


Who they are: The artist values play and creation, but also feels the need to execute an idea that comes to mind. They want their creations to resonate with others, and often design with a specific person in mind, in spite of stereotypes of being self-driven.

How to ID them: Look for someone who puts their whole selves into their work, and strongly needs their work to resonate with others.

How they thrive: They thrive with tangible objects and space to create freely and openly. They work well with entrepreneurs who can figure out how to scale, modify, and monetize their creations for larger audiences.

Exemplar from our research: Warrick: a designer who won a contest to build the largest art installation in the history of Burning Man based off an initial proposal he created himself that he’s now enrolling many others to bring to life. 


Who they are: Inventors want to help solve other people’s problems or their own problems. They have a vision for how people’s lives can be changed through creating.

How to ID them: Look for fearlessness when it comes to undertaking a task, as inventors strongly believe that there is a way to execute any idea, including ones beyond their immediate means to deliver.

How they thrive: Their imaginations are endless and they effortlessly see the possibilities in the world around them. They are full of ideas and often excel when they partner with people who have the tools available to see their ideas become a reality.

Exemplar from our research: Elaine: a retiree with multiple sclerosis who sought to develop an all-terrain walker that would make her life (and those of others like her much easier). She worked with contract manufacturers to make the vision into a venture.


Who they are: The entrepreneur has a clear grasp of the big picture and sees all kinds of opportunities in front of them. They enjoy strategizing and often are able to find a way to make things work, even if it involves redirecting.

How to ID them: Look for someone who sees how ideas can connect to provide solutions that will reach many different people, someone who can pinpoint strategy and the opportunity for profit.

How they thrive: They thrive when crafting vision and strategy. They work best when paired with partners who excel in creating the ideas that they can turn into businesses.

Exemplar from our research: Greg: a small business owner who connects people with ideas to fabricators and manufacturers in Asia. He takes on partners whose ideas he believes can scale, based on his knowledge of launch logistics and market demands.



Interestingly enough, while all the makers that we spoke with exhibited at least one of these mindsets, they all found a way to build up a network that contained all these traits and behaviors, replicating the advantages of a more full-blown startup. Parker, for instance, is a hybrid of an artist and an entrepreneur who is incredibly resourceful. She closely connects with her customers as a hairstylist, and understands the values of her target customer. She has a supportive boyfriend (a fellow entrepreneur and artist) and collaborates extensively with her supportive team at Persephone, including engineers and advocates She uses existing research done on everything from SPF to earth friendly ingredients, and accesses online forums for information and feedback from fellow makers. She is incredibly well networked, and in a way that allows her to uniquely flourish as an artist and individual.

There are Makers in every company, people who are enthusiasts and creators, and through giving them space to be who they are and allowing them to share with others, companies can build networks of Makers that can naturally drive innovations. Through identifying these traits in their own people, companies can leverage these capabilities, allow individuals to excel in the roles that interest them, and adopt a more Makerly mindset that can keep them moving forward in the face of adversity.