Home Town Food

I don’t remember a time when there was more interest in food  – and specialist food in particular. Over the past couple of years we’ve featured a number of businesses which exploit the subscription business model. Here’s an idea which combines the two things.

GothamBox sells specialist foods on a monthly subscription – but there’s a twist. All the foods despatched each month are native to a particular city, enabling those who have moved away to get their home town favourites, and those who simply live elsewhere to get a taste of somewhere different. This is a US based company which at the moment sends a variety of food products, normally exclusive to the cities of  New York and San Fransisco.

Could this work in the UK? I’m not sure. Although regions and cities have their own specialities, they seem to be pretty widely available. Or are they? Perhaps there are foods which remain exclusive to cities and regions, but you don’t get to hear about them unless you live there. At the very least, I can see places like Yorkshire, Devon, Scotland and Wales having sufficient regional food specialities to make this viable. Another one to investigate further.



Paul Merton


“There are various ways to give up smoking – nicotine patches, nicotine gum. My auntie used to pour a gallon of petrol over herself every morning.”

Paul Merton

The Glow In The Dark Bicycle

Recent high profile accidents involving Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and others have highlighted the issue of bike safety. There are more cyclists on the road than ever before, and they are competing for road space with an ever increasing number of cars. Wiggins had lights on his bike and he still got hit, so maybe there’s a need for something a bit more radical.

The Kilo Glow bike from Pure Fix Cycles features a luminous glow-in-the-dark frame. The frame and wheels are coated in a highly reflective paint that is activated when exposed to sunlight. An hour of daylight will provide an hour of night time usage.

This is an American company and I’m not sure whether anything like this is available in the UK yet. Perhaps something for an ambitious UK entrepreneur to investigate.  Nobody wants to see cyclists coming to harm, but every accident further hammers home the dangers and enhances the demand for something like this.

Selling The Unsavoury

Not every product is attractive in either appearance or function. Many fall into the yucky-but-necessary category. So how do you go about selling them?  The makers of Naposure, a saline product designed to wash out a mucus laden nose, (apologies if you’re eating!)  faced just this problem.

Their solution was to soften the whole thing by using attractive children in the advertisements, demonstrating the product. The cute and funny videos they made seemed to do the trick of making an unglamorous product visually attractive to the target market. It’s a trick that toilet paper manufacturers have used for decades of course. What Labrador puppies have to do with the quality and effectiveness of  Andrex is anyone’s guess, but they serve the function of making the product attractive, while very subtly conveying the benefits.

Perhaps if your product lacks a little glamour, you could think about making it more attractive and appealing by associating it in customer’s minds with something more acceptable. Something to give some thought to.

As an aside, I just discovered that toilet paper was first marketed in the United States just 150 years ago, and up until that point in time, everyone made ‘alternative arrangements’. Just give some thought to that the next time you’re bemoaning the fact that some modern day luxury you’ve become accustomed to isn’t working quite the way it should!

UK Property Outlook

According to the Nationwide House Price Index, property prices were flat in November and, looking ahead, are expected to flatline for 2013. The average house price, seasonally adjusted to compare quiet and busy months more accurately, saw a 0 per cent ‘change’.

Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, says, ‘The annual rate of house price inflation remained in negative territory for the ninth month in a row in November. However, the pace of decline remained extremely slow, with prices just 1.2 per cent below the level prevailing in November 2011.’

Where next? ‘The predominant theme remains one of stability. Indeed, UK house prices were unchanged over the month in November, after taking account of normal seasonal factors.’

BTL Mortgage Update

TBMC, the buy-to-let and commercial mortgage specialist, is offering two, three-year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgages with Skipton Building Society.

The products are a 3.99 per cent fixed rate up to 65 per cent loan to value and a 4.39 per cent fixed rate up to 75 per cent LTV with a completion fee of £995, free valuation and free legals for remortgages.

What’s New?

Almost every would-be entrepreneur I speak to is looking for something ‘new’…a product or service nobody has thought of before. But what exactly is ‘new’, and is this a realistic ambition?

In the early part of the twentieth century, long before the internet,  The Boston Globe had an instant real time news feed product, backed by advertising. Breaking news was chalked up on huge boards and placed in the newsroom window which backed onto the street.  The news was usually conveyed by a headline (140 characters or less!) and behind it were paid advertisements. In addition telegraphed communications of  boxing watches or football matches was shouted out by employees using loud hailers, round by round or play by play to an eager audience. Early multimedia in action!

Okay, it’s not quite Twitter, but the point I’m making is that the demand for news of events as they happened was always there, and there was a product to fill the demand.  What’s available on the internet today is just a modern day manifestation of a product meeting the same demand. Rather than looking for something completely new and unique, a more fruitful route to a lucrative business opportunity might be to look at what was popular in the past, and then how it can be given a modern twist. Technology changes, but underlying in-built human needs wants and desires do not.

Slimming Perfume

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how big the weight loss market is. I’d bet that half the people you know would like to lose some weight, and most would rather do it without any effort or sacrifice if at all possible. For that reason, I think Parisian perfume house Robertet may be on to something.

The company have created Prends-moi, a perfume which they claim contains a ‘feel good’ chemical that promotes feelings of well-being, reduces stress and hinders compulsive eating habits. Oh, and it’s supposed to smell quite nice as well. I’ve no idea how effective this is, although the company claim that 75% of wearers reported that it reduced their urge to snack.

There are a couple of things to take from this I think:

  1. Might your product be repositioned to encompass and embrace the weight loss market?
  2. Might your product be repositioned to highlight benefits that are additional to its primary purpose?

One further thought…weight loss aftershave, anyone?