Contemplating ‘The Art of Innovation’

My first experience attending TEDxBerkeley was on February 8. Browsing through the list of speakers before the event, I was particularly excited for Guy Kawasaki’s TED talk. So I was pleasantly surprised when the Silicon Valley author and investor was the first speaker to open the event.

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In his talk, Kawasaki gave numerous pieces of advice to potential innovators, such as “Don’t Worry, Be Crappy”, and to not be afraid to “Polarize People” when inventing a product. He also highlighted how there were disbelievers in the past that contested against products which have proven to become indispensable today, such as telephones and computers. One of the most distinctive points he made was entitled “Churn Baby Churn”, which underscores how before a product is created, innovators should disregard naysayers — but once it has been created, they need to listen to people’s feedback and continuously change and improve their product.

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His presentation from the event can be found here.

A specific sentence from Kawasaki’s talk, which left an indelible impact on my mind, was: “Great innovation involves jumping to the next curve”. Apart from inspiring my post today, his talk made me ponder about the products and services available for consumers today that are exceptionally innovative — those which clearly challenge the boundaries of creativity and remind us why innovation is vital in the progressive world that we live in today.

As a result, here are a few products and services that I consider to be highly innovative, those which transform the competitive landscape for modern day entrepreneurs.

1) Uber

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Founded in 2009, Uber is an app that connects drivers to passengers who request for rides through their smartphones.

Drivers are selected based on the distance from their position to a passenger’s location, and it usually takes less than 10 minutes for them to arrive. After requesting for a ride, a passenger can view and track their ride’s location on a map.

Uber promotes its services through the convenience and low-cost factor that differentiate them from local taxi services. Payments for rides are also automatically billed to the passenger’s credit card, eliminating the need for any form of tipping. In order to further differentiate their services, some Uber drivers include snacks, mineral water, and phone chargers in their cars.

2) SpoonRocket

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Cal students shouldn’t find this unfamiliar. Facebook statuses about SpoonRocket deliveries tend to escalate during midterms or finals weeks; not to mention the small white cars adorned with the company’s logo driving past Telegraph or University Avenue on a daily basis.

SpoonRocket is a food delivery service that delivers $6 gourmet meals to Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Lake Merritt vicinities. Founded by Cal grads Anson Tsui and Steven Hsiao, SpoonRocket offers two meal options everyday — one of which specially caters to vegetarians.

The company does not provide door-to-door deliveries, but instead require customers to step out to their curbside to collect the food they order, which explains their speedy delivery process. The average waiting time for SpoonRocket deliveries typically range from 5 to 20 minutes.

3) Minimergency® Kits

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To those of you who are always fretting about needing dental floss or pain relievers at emergency situations such as job interviews, coffee chats and networking sessions, this product is for you.

Created by Pinch Provisions, Minimergency® kits contain essential items for busy college students who already have too much in their heavy Haas bag packs. The kits contain “essential” items such as breath freshener, stain remover, deodorant towelette, lip balm and mending kit. The kits for females include additional items such as clear elastics and hair spray; whereas the kits for males include shoe shine towelette and a nail clipper.

The company also offers “College Survival Kits” that comprise of ‘must-have’ items to conquer common dormitory woes; these include eye mask, earplugs, first aid kit and a thermometer.

These are only a few examples that I have encountered in my daily life and personally consider innovative. So stop trying to sell your Flappy Bird equipped iPhone for a moment and think about what innovation means to you. What other inventive products or services could you think of?

As Benny Bellamacina once said, “You are only limited by your own imagination.”

Sofia Putri
Class of 2015

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