Category Archives: News

The Case of Botto Bistro: Gaming Yelps’ Review System

The people reading this blog obviously have heard of Yelp, as we have published an article on Yelp earlier in 2014. If you are to lazy to re-read, basically Yelp is a site that aggregates reviews from customers for businesses in several industries. On paper, yelps business model lies in providing a digital ‘word of mouth’ effect, and earns money by offering businesses to sell acces their accounts to them (i.e., ‘local ads‘). If you search on google with the search “yelp trust“, you’ll immediately find a lot of articles that the current review system is botched. One could say that lies in the dependency of businesses to receive excellent (5 star) reviews in order to keep their business functioning, and other conspiracy theorists claim that Yelp is offering ‘selective filtering’ to keep a clients’ (i.e., a business paying Yelp ) rating up. The latter even resulted the famous court case in 2014, that was won by yelp, setting a precedent on allowing Yelp to manipulate ratings on their site. Ratings manipulation in any case basically nullify the trust and worthiness of the site one would say.

So how would a business deal with being listed on such a service that Yelp offers? Here comes the case of Botto Bistro. Botto Bistro claims that this is their way of dealing with Yelps’ “blackmailing” and review reputation. In a normal case, a business would try to put incentives up in order for users to leave positive reviews. This way of dealing is considered to be the the ‘route to rome’ that is the oldest in order to create an artificial positive word of mouth buzz around your business. Yelp has dealed with such attempts by putting a “consumer alert” on a profile that says that businesses were caught ‘red handed’ by trying to buy reviews from customers . The latter is also perceived by as an ‘honest’ attempt that builds trust in the service.

Take the gun leave the cannoli.

Based in Richmond, California USA, Botto Bistro is doing the exact opposite. They offer a discount for customers that are willing to put a negative review on Yelp on their business listing. They claim that they are willing to pay for negative reviews, which is so ridiculous that it might be working. They have received a letter from Yelp claiming that they “may be offering incentives in exchange for reviews”, which is a clear violation of their Terms of Service. The funny thing is, that the restaurant listed on Yelp is not even a formal client of Yelp. Furthermore, Yelp’s representative in the email listed on claims that “such practices do more harm than good”. Yet the opposite seems to be proven by Botto, even though 2.314 reviews have been removed as of 1 may 2015. There are many listings and news articles surrounding the business that support the likes of david winning against goliath, as the business seems to be flourishing as a direct result of said news.

In the end, one would wonder what this would do to the trustworthiness of a community like Yelp. Full positive ratings are being perceived as suspicious, now full-on negative reviews will be perceived as suspicious as well? What is next? Perhaps, as one user suggest on Reddit: “only read 3-star reviews”…! How to do it yourself!?

Have you also wondered for years how to make a wooden paddleball set, or how to make a rock salt bracelet, but you never found the proper motivation to figure this out? Due to the online trend in customer co-creation it is now possible to find instructions for the most bizarre items online on

One of the leading sites in these ‘how-to’ videos & instructions is is a website which was originally an inside project from some PhD students from the MIT media labs.  When they weren’t solving complex technological problems like solar panels for highways, they were teaching each other things as 3d modelling, cooking and other stuff through videos and instructions that they posted on this platform. In 2006 they decided to open up the platform to the rest of the world.  The website now is a platform for over hundred thousand how-to instructions, videos and ideas.

That these ideas are very varied is already noticeable in the first moment you enter the website. There is a bike challenge available in which people can post their idea about bikes. These ideas vary from homemade bicycle stand to homemade tandems. The great part of this platform is that it is not only a platform for simple guides like sharing a salad recipe or showing how to sheer a sheep, but it is only a place where creative people meet each other, share ideas and create.

Behind the website is a small team and a huge community of enthusiast people who are constantly sharing their most creative ideas. They can add videos, images and even files with 3d models or photoshop images. An extended review system is available on to rate other users and their ideas.. Besides this it is possible to join groups for people with similar interests. also has a membership available for teachers so they can use these videos in the classroom.

The business model of consists of 2 different revenue-models. The first is based on advertisement. They rent out video space on the video pages to companies for advertising purposes.  The other source of revenue they have is organizing contests for their community. Some of these contests are sponsored by companies. At this moment Microsoft is organizing the “Coded creation contest” on Big prizes like laptops, tablets and photo cameras are waiting for the winners!

Besides there are literally dozens of these websites that are specialized as video platform for how-to and do-it-yourself videos. Although is not the largest website in this category, they have an advantage with having a large community. So if you feel creative these coming months and have a video camera and some spare time, make sure to visit!


Crowdsourcing in co-innovation: a SAP HANA example

Let me start by saying something we all already know: in the current digital world, innovation is critical. Disruption from new agile competitors becomes a continuous threat for many businesses.

As we all expect, innovation needs fresh thinking, open minds, experiments and new approaches. In the last years many new technologies were launched. However, in many cases it is hard to unlock the full innovation potential of these technologies – such as data analytics, mobile and digital. To unlock this potential, I claim that within big firms innovation leaders need to lead this innovation and use dynamic new approaches to co-creation and collaboration.

A great example of such a dynamic new approach is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a dynamic approach to the generation of ideas, without being bounded to traditional (firm) boundaries. Crowdsourcing gives the possibility to include input from the entire business ecosystem, which includes the input from employees, partners, suppliers and customers.

An excellent illustration of such corporate crowdsourcing is the SAP HANA Innovation Challenge. HANA is SAP’s in-memory database technology. Yearly, also this year, they organize a crowdsourcing contest. The SAP HANA Innovation Awards were designed to showcase and honor customers innovating with SAP HANA. Because current year’s contest is still active, I will illustrate this example based on the 2014 contest.

The contest was organized the following. Customers using SAP HANA in production were invidted to enter their innovation story in a certain category. 22 finalists were selected by public voting. The social buzz for the conteste hashtag #HANAStory generated over 6 million impressions on Twitter, 6.7 thousand votes and 76.1 thousand website visits. SAP User groups were invited to nominate judges and 11 judges reviewed and scored each of the 22 finalists using a score card to select the final winners. This lead to a massive attention to SAP HANA innovation and mulitiple ideas were executed and implemented on a larger scale.


The crowdsourcing contest at SAP is every year a great success, as illustrated with the 2014 example. For the innovation leaders willing to lead the innovation in this collaborative way, there are some important considerations:

1. Open up innovation processes to third parties
CIOs can open up their innovation process by partnering with third parties who share their aims and are prepared to collaborate. To identify potential allies, innovation leaders must study their partners’ portfolios to find common areas of interest.

2. Accede collective brainpower
If a small group starts to define innovation opportunities, it can result in a very narrow approach being taken. Opening up for a wider group can give you a greater diversity of input. It also can give you insight in the end-user experience.

3. Decide how to evaluate ideas
The end goal of idea crowdsourcing is to implement innovative ideas. To reach this goal, it is important to have a clear appraoch towards prioritizing and selecting the best ideas. In most cases such an approach consists of two stages: structuring and selecting.

What can innovation leaders learn from this blog?
Very straightforward, that the people at their organization,  and the people around their organization, are full of innovative ideas. It is key to find new ways to unlock the potential innovative value of these ideas and exploit it.
Innovation leaders should start experimenting now: where can crowdsourcing be used to move product/service/technology from a deployment to a genuine innovation?


Click to access 1310_Success_Stories_and_Lessons_Learned_Implementing_SAP_HANA_Solutions.pdf

Create positive WOM through post-consumption e-mails

“Selling a car to someone is not hard, getting them to come back years from now and buy a second one is the challenge.”
– Employee at Bluekens, Roosendaal.

This is a quote I’ve heard a few times when I went along with my parents when they were getting a new car throughout the past fifteen years. Over the last years I learnt that the man who told me this taught me a very important marketing rule: once you’ve got the sale, your work has only just begun.

Colin Shaw (2013) noted that it costs a company, on average, six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.  Therefore, companies can save a lot of money by creating an experience that makes customers want to come back and tell others about your company. The post-purchase period is an important point in the customer’s journey and is just as important, if not more important, than the actual sale. As an illustration, Marketing Metrics found that the probability of selling a product to an existing client lies between sixty to seventy percent, whereas the probability of selling a product to a new client lies between five to twenty percent.

As there are many methods of post purchase engagement, I will take a look at post-purchase e-mails in this post. When used correctly, these e-mails will create a better consumer experience, resulting in a stronger customer loyalty. This will lead to a positive word of mouth which may refer new clients to you. Furthermore, it may lead to more repeated purchases and, most importantly, establish a strong connection between customers and your brand. So, what would these e-mails require in terms of content?

1. Order confirmation, tracking and support.
First of all, it is important to give your customer the security that the order was successfully processed. An example of such an e-mail can be seen in the picture below. When Bed, Bath and Beyond receives an order through their website, the e-mail that is sent contains a simple statement regarding the confirmation of your order and the tracking information.
Confirmation email

2. Discount offers to incentivize future purchases.
Other than experiencing a good post-consumption process, consumers may need an extra incentive to make a future purchase. By sending discount offers days after someone made a purchase, you might trigger a new purchase. Take for example Pottery Barn. About a week after making a purchase at Pottery Barn, customers receive a mail with a code to get free shipping on a future purchase. As consumers have enjoyed a good experience, this discount is the icing on the cake to let them make another purchase.

Discount email

3. Thank your customers
Make your customers feel appreciated. A thank you page after an order is not enough, as they may feel everyone can see this. When dedicated in a mail, consumers may feel more personally engaged, which will increase their post-purchase experience.

I believe these companies show great examples of ensuring consumers enjoy a positive post-purchase experience. Although each of these suggestions contain only small things, I do believe they have a huge impact on how a consumer experiences a purchase. Remember, the purchase of a product is not the end of a relationship with a customer, it is merely the beginning.


Thank god it’s Friday!

A creative gateway to the festival Extrema Outdoor, the design and inspiration for a new buddha to buddha bracelet or the design for a new tattoo for Dré Hazes. These requests or so called Calls for Creation have already been answered, co-created and fulfilled using the Created on Friday platform.

Created on Friday is a video-based platform in which clients, creative minds and followers are connected in Creation Stories. With already 12 co-created final products and 16.000+ creative minds and followers, they are experiencing a promising start. What makes this platform different related to others and how does the consummation look like ?

Creating a Creation story process

1st FridayCall for creation

On the 1st Friday at midnight, the client submit a Call for Creation video. With uploading this video based Call on the online platform, a client opens the request for action towards creative minds. As already presented above, the topic of call for creation can be anything of choice based on the client request for a unique concept e.g. design, art or a new marketing campaign.

During the first week, anyone with a creative mind can respond on a specific Call for Creation by uploading their creative solution. Again this response will be delivered in the format of a video-pitch. The video pitch will be shown to online crowd, to give them a proper feeling and understanding of the solution proposed by the creative mind (person, company). The online public or followers, in turn, will vote for their favorite videos resulting in a dynamic top 5 ranking on the basis of video views and votes during this week.

2nd Friday – Winner gets chosen,  nr 2,3,4,5 announced

On the 2nd Friday the top-5 will be frozen and the client decides which pitch will be awarded as the number one. Interesting fact is that the client still can decide to choose a winner outside of the top 5. Having said that the client’s favorites are presented in a frame on the client’s Call for Creation page. This way the client can influence indirectly followers’ voting behavior. The nr 2,3,4,5 of the video-based pitching contest will be awarded with money. Besides the financial rewarding, the top-5 creative minds and their solutions will be announced on the platform making use of a video. In this way the creative mind talents will be shown to all the followers. On top of that, the winning creative minds will be part of the Created on Friday wall of fame.

During the second week, in a Meet & Making of, the client and winning creative mind co-create, further develop and fine-tune the winning idea into a final creation. Taking into account that the client is responsible for all the resources needed to come up with the final creation.

3th  Friday – Final creation

After 14 days of pitching, voting and co-creating the final product will be presented. Not surprisingly, this will be done using a video message on the Created on Friday platform.


Using online video content during the creation story, allows both clients, a creative mind and followers to share their findings and ideas towards a large crowd. In my opinion, the use of different social media channels ( YouTube, Facebook, Instagram ), makes Created on Friday a unique marketing “machine”.

Secondly I am really curious about the impact Created on Friday could have on nowadays marketing/design agencies. Noticing that these agencies mostly of the time charge a lot of money and consume more than 2 weeks to come up with a final product.

Since it’s founding by the end of 2014 , already 12 Creation Stories have been created. In my opinion, many more will follow. Top priority will be the supply of new Calls for Creation by clients.

Created by: Luut Willen

References :

What’s New from Amazon?

“Selling services on Amazon : reach customers in your neighbourhood and grow your business”

Amazon Dash Button : “everything’s at the touch of a button”

What at first was an online bookstore now becomes one of the biggest online retailers worldwide. Amazon sells pretty much everything, from home appliances to clothing and even groceries. Its business model enables users to be actively involved by allowing them to act as buyers as well as sellers. Buyers are also encouraged to review sellers and share their experiences to build trust among each others. These involvements lead to users as co-creators of value. According to Saarijärvi et al (2013), value co-creation offers opportunities in identifying new ways to support either the customer’s or the firm’s value-creating processes. This business concept allows Amazon to capture greater value than it could have independently.

Being an e-commerce site leader doesn’t stop Amazon to grow its business. Based on The Economist (2015), on March 30th it announced Amazon Home Services which sells services. This service has a trial version called Amazon Local Services, which has been testing in some American cities since late 2014. So how does it work? Customers in several cities in the United States can search for the services they need and purchase it or submit a custom request on There would be builders, plumbers, mechanics, and even music teachers offering their services to customers in their neighbourhood. To simplify the transaction, standard services have set prices up front while custom services can be requested (Amazon, 2015).

This service is a smart move from Amazon (if it succeeds), it offers convenience for customers as they will be able to locate nearby builders, plumbers, or any other services available in the website. Customers can purchase a service while shopping for products related to it, therefore Amazon encourages people to buy products (i.e. home appliances) from them as customers can simply have it installed too through the service. Not only that, the services providers also gain benefits from this, as Amazon takes care of the payment process while also exposed them to potential customers through the website and also provides them with easy-to-use tools.

Youtube : “Introducing Amazon Home Services”

As if the Amazon Home Services announcement is not enough, the firm has another news this week. It introduced Amazon’s “Dash” buttons, wireless-connected buttons for members of its Prime scheme branded (The Economist, 2015). The idea is consumers have these buttons in their homes and they can simply press it whenever they need certain household items. By pressing the button, an order of those certain items will be placed on then delivered to the customer’s home. People always keep trying to find new ways to make their life easier and this button is certainly attempting to do so. Though it seems easier to simply push a button rather than actually order an item online, which might required more than a couple of minutes, I have my doubts in this “smart” buttons. People obviously have lots of household items, not just a thing or two, and though it’s still not very clear about the technical of these buttons, I think people wouldn’t want to have lots of buttons in their homes for each of their items. And also, since it is a button, it would be small and people could easily forget where they put it and lose it. It would be even trickier for people who have kids at home. That being said, I don’t think these buttons would be practical to dash buttons

(The Economist, 2015)


Saarijärvi, H., Kannan, P., and Kuusela, H. (2013). ‘Value co-creation : theoretical approaches and practical implications‘, European Business Review, 25(1), pp.6-19.

Controversial Yik Yak

It seems like a simple idea: create a platform which allows users to anonymously create posts which are linked to specific locations. Still, this idea from Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington received investments equal to $73 million. These investments result in a company valuation between $300 million and $400 million, all within one year after launch. The whole idea is captured in a very interesting, but controversial app: Yik Yak.

The app Yik Yak was founded in 2013 by Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, who directly created the app after they graduated from Furman University in South Carolina. The app had a Facebook like start, since it used the networks as they exist on university and college campuses to spread the app across many students with the help of word of mouth. Soon after the Furman University was added to the app, other neighboring colleges picked up the app. In this way the app spread across the United States and within one year after launch, over 1500 colleges were on the app.

So what is it all about? Yik Yak allows users to anonymously create posts which can only be read by other users which are within a specific area. So based on your location the app divides you into a specific group of users which are within a specific distance from each other. All the users within that specific group can post, read and like the messages, which are called yaks. These yaks can be up-voted or down-voted by other users, so that the yaks get ranked according to popularity. Users can also comment on yaks, to enable the possibility of a conversation between different users. As I explained above, the app is mostly used on colleges across the United States. Tyler Droll, one of the founders of Yik Yak, described his app as follows: “it’s like a bulletin board for your local area.” But although the intentions for this app are well-meant, it turns out that the app is not always used in the way it is supposed to be…

Downside of Yik Yak
One of the negative aspects of the Yik Yak app is that it brings along cyber-bullying. Of course, due to the fact that everyone who is using the app is completely anonymous, users can say anything they want. All kind of forms of cyber-bullying occur through the app like violation threats, sexual assault and racism. Several counter measures were taken towards these negative features of the app. The two founders allowed to geo-fence the app, so that the app cannot be used in specific areas. Due to this measure, the app cannot be used in and around many primary and secondary schools in the United States. If students open the app in the geo-fenced areas, a message pops up saying that the app cannot be used in this area. Besides this, the founders increased the minimal age to download the app to 17 years. Finally, a lot of school across the United States took action to ban the app in and around their campuses.

I think this app is a very interesting example, since it shows two sides of a story. On the one hand, the app raises a lot of money through investments and gets an enormous valuation within a small time period. But on the other hand it struggles a lot with the social aspects of the app. This app is a good example of how users can create and destroy the value of an app. Some users create value for the app by creating interesting messages, while other users destroy value of the app by using it for cyber-bullying.


H&M’s Digital Move

Hennes & Mauritz, better known as H&M, is a Swedish multinational retail clothing company that most probably does not need an introduction. It was founded in 1947 and is still very successful worldwide, mainly due to putting all of its customers central. H&M’s online presence in terms of a web shop, a smartphone application, and several social media accounts plays a major role in H&M’s success, as this has enabled H&M to continuously observe and interact with its customers. The 31st of March, H&M will come with something new to take its customer relationships to the next level. Namely, it will introduce a digital customer loyalty program in the Netherlands. This will make the Netherlands the second country in the world with a H&M loyalty program. According to the country manager of H&M in the Netherlands, this move is now made in order to capitalize on the relatively high amount of online orders of customers in the Netherlands.

The past years loyalty programs have become more and more digitalized. The non-digital loyalty programs involved getting stamps for every €5 spent. They evolved into digital loyalty programs with member cards that had to be scanned after every purchase in order to receive loyalty points. Currently, there are loyalty cards that have to be connected to an online account to collect customer demographics information. Clearly, loyalty cards came into existence to bind customers to a certain business. Over the years this mindset has changed, and at this time businesses primarily want to have as much relevant customer information as possible to be able to better adapt their products and deals to their customers.

H&M is taking a slightly different but more advanced approach with its loyalty program ‘H&M Club’, by integrating a customer loyalty card in the H&M application. Joining the club is free, and when one has joined the club, he or she will receive one point for every euro spent, in addition to 50 free “welcome points”. The points can be redeemed for weekly changing discounts, but more importantly, these points can also be exchanged for access to exclusive events. Customers are given the opportunity to attend designer events in cities such as New York or Paris, be present during H&M photoshoots, or get a guided tour at H&M’s headquarter in Stockholm. This method has been selected because it is more sustainable not to have an actual member card, but the main reason is that customers are demanding more and more engagement and transparency from H&M.

H&M’s loyalty program seems to be a promising addition to H&M’s existing business model, especially since it offers its customers the opportunity to increasingly engage with the brand. The free welcome points give the customers a head start which may lead to a greater use of the program, as the rewards become easier to reach. Furthermore, points can be redeemed in different quantities, depending on the chosen deal. Moreover, the discounts and events offered by the H&M Club are most likely treats that customers would not spend their own money on and can lead to customers buying things that they would not have considered buying before. The previously mentioned components of the H&M Club have been cited by scholars as important levers of loyalty (Nunes & Drèze, 2006). Based on this and H&M’s long-term success, its loyalty program is likely to succeed.


Nunes, J.C., & Drèze, X. (2006) Your Loyalty Program Is Betraying You. Harvard Business Review, 84(4), 124.

Excellent customer involvement by Xiaomi

On April 6, 2010 Xiaomi Corporation was founded: a mobile internet company focused on the research and development of high-end smartphones. However, the fans (i.e. customers) of the Xiaomi Corporation play a very important role in the company’s development. They are the core value of Xiaomi. Xiaomi interacts with fans in multiple ways.

As they are focused on the Chinese market, they developed an interface that makes it much easier to use their smartphones for Chinese users. Furthermore, they update their software on a weekly basis at the best possible price. However, the part of their strategy I would like to emphasize is the treatment of their customers. Xiaomi acknowledges all feedback with gratitude. The founder and company executives spend time on social media every day to personally interact with the customers (usually over 100 comments on a daily basis). Xiaomi adds functionalities based on the feedback they receive from their customers. Feedback regarding modifications can be about anything: shape and color of the phone, the quality of the camera, but also modifications such as delivery speed and the ease of the ordering process.

On top of the integration of their customers in the developments of their products, Xiaomi classifies fans in grades in terms of participation, number of comments and level of importance of services provided to other fans. These grades grant fans different permissions and incentives. Users with high grades are often asked to try out new products. Some have even been recruited by Xiaomi to work for them full time. The grades in turn motivate customers to participate actively in the Xiaomi community. Fans often help each other out with problems, which has resulted in the establishment of a large community.

Another thing Xiaomi Corporation does to show fans how important they are, is organizing various gatherings for Xiaomi fans. Think of fan festivals and reunions in cities, where fans can meet and share experiences. The highlight every year is the fan festival. As part of the program, Lei Jun (the founder of Xiaomi) reports the latest results and activities of the company, and he introduces new products. Furthermore, those users that have contributed the most throughout the year receive ‘the best feedback gift’. The reunions in cities are usually organized by fans, however, Xiaomi Corporation provides the venue and gifts in support of the reunion. Fans can select their location and the corporation will pay for it (if the idea is approved of course).

Xiaomi offers customers to provide them feedback and helps them customize the products to match their needs. For example, one user mentioned he wanted to record the times at which he answered the phone, so a few weeks later this functionality was provided.

Through the customer involvement, Xiaomi has created a community in which their customers are the key factor to success. I believe that Xiaomi involves their customers in an excellent way. The products are adjusted to their needs, resulting in very satisfied customers, as they receive exactly those products they want. This story is a great example of the two-sided positive effects good customer involvement can lead towards.

Shih, C., Lin, T.M.Y., Luarn, P. Fan-centric social media: The Xiaomi phenomenon in China, Business Horizons, Vol. 57, pp 349-358

A New Way Of Crowdfunding

“Would You Pay $1,000 Once to Get Free Beer for Life?”

A brewpub and a coffee shop in Minnesota’s Twin Cities have successfully used this one-time payment method – a crowdfunding campaign with a twist. Is it the new model to follow for bars and restaurants?

Northbound: free beer for life for investing in a small restaurant with home-brewed beer

In 2012, in order to secure a bank loan and make their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub come true, Amy Johnson and her business partners had to raise 220,000 dollars. The only investors they found, who offered to invest for a voting share in the restaurant, had no experience in the restaurant industry, and thus Amy and her partners decided to go on another path.

Continue reading A New Way Of Crowdfunding

Sita Sings The Blues

Is There A Business Model For A Movie Without Copyright?

Sita Sings the Blues is an 82-minute animated film that combines autobiography with a retelling of the classic Indian myth the Ramayana. The film is written, directed, edited, produced and animated by a single woman, Nina Paley, who spent three years on the making. It also put her more than $20,000 in debt.

The film is extraordinary in many different ways, including the motivation behind its creation, the way it has been funded, and the way it is currently marketed and distributed.

In 2002 Ms. Paley followed her husband from their home in San Francisco to western India. There she became acquainted with the Ramayana’s tragic saga of the Hindu goddess Sita, who is exiled by her husband, Rama, who fears she has been unfaithful after she is abducted by a demon king.

While she went on a business trip to New York, her husband sent her an e-mail message telling her not to come back. In “grief, agony and shock,” she stayed in Manhattan, camping out on friends’ sofas. At one of her hosts, a collector of vintage records, she became familiar with Annette Hanshaw’s music. One of her songs was a perfect match together with Rama’s rejection of Sita. Ms. Paley being an animator herself, the idea of producing a film out of these elements came naturally to her, however, she didn’t have the money, or the emotional resources, to make more than a short film.

That film, “Trial by Fire,” turned out to be such a success that Ms. Paley started to expand it. “It sounds dumb, but the movie wanted to be made,” she said. “There was this music and this story. It was like: ‘Someone’s got to make this movie. I guess it’s going to be me.’” (Rochlin, 2009)

In 2008 November, “Sita Sings the Blues” opened the San Francisco International Animation Festival, along with the Museum of Modern Art’s annual series ‘Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You in New York’, where it won a Gotham Award. Continue reading Sita Sings The Blues

Revolutionizing Live Entertainment

Tommyjams – The idea

One evening in 2011, chilling out at a Hard Rock Café in Hyderabad, Parth M. Saxena and Nikhil Kapur were struck by an idea. They were watching a band perform, and they liked it. However, they realized such small bands were getting so little opportunity to access performance venues, especially in cities far away. The way was blocked by a limited access to venue managers, chiefly through artists’ own contacts and referrals. This way, well-known bands and artists, who were the most networked, got booked for performances through their contacts, but a large number of semi-professional and starting bands did not get the opportunity to have performances – even though the demand was there and growing.

The two techies from Delhi College of Engineering, who were at that time working with Texas Instruments and Microsoft, respectively, decided to create a platform, which could democratize live entertainment for small and big artists alike, by connecting them directly with pubs, bars, malls or cafes, where performances happen, as well as with fans. Their technical knowledge and passions were at hand: Saxena had worked part-time as a freelance guitarist and vocalist for different music bands in Bangalore, and had a network of artists and bands to tap into initially. His partner, Kapur, brought in a very important complementary skill – venue management – as he had experience in managing venues for his employer, Microsoft, which hosted several events.

The TommyJams platform

Continue reading Revolutionizing Live Entertainment

Too much customer involvement for Transavia

In 2011, a Dutch airline company, decided to change their slogan to their new strategy. Part of their new strategy was to become a better airline company by involving their customers. So what would be a better idea than asking their customers to come up with a new slogan matching their new strategy? The marketing department was enthusiastic and organized a slogan contest. The best slogan, chosen by a jury, would win a whole year of free traveling for two persons. What could possibly go wrong?!

At first, the slogan contest seemed a real success. received over 110.000 submissions and decided to add an extra element to the contest. 1000 of the submitted slogans were hung across the Netherlands as posters in (bus) shelters. The contestants that found their own slogan and submitted a picture of themselves in front of the poster could win 2 free plane tickets (1). However, at the moment that the 10 nominated slogans of the contest were announced, the positive tide changed.

After the announcement of the 10 nominees, other contestants were simply surprised by the 10 selected slogans. They found the slogans not creative, childish and boring. One nominated slogan (love at first flight) was actually already used before by SAS and Bangkok Airways (2). Furthermore contestants were complaining about the posters with submitted slogans hanging around the Netherlands, because they were only hanging in five big cities and hard to find (3). Many contestants were dissatisfied and placed negative reactions on the contest’s Facebook page (4).

The question is, could’s marketing department be blamed for the negative reaction? Continue reading Too much customer involvement for Transavia


Affordable get-aways for skilled auctioneers!

Ah, it’s almost summer! If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting for this, enduring the cold and windy climate of the Dutch fall and winter. Moreover, you’d probably want to spend your free time away from home with some recreational activities, but what to do if you’re low on cash? Well, if you’ve got a good virtual poker face, you can always bid on some nice activities at

Part of Emesa Nederland BV., Vakantieveilingen has been offering low prices on everything away-from-home related, ranging from days out on the town to entire holidays abroad since 2007. How does it work? Well, for consumers it works by simply starting to bid on the deal that you like best and if your bid is the highest made when the auction closes, you win the activity for that price. Consequently, you have a lot of power over how much you want to pay for certain products, but you also have to be careful to you’re not overbid at the end, when many people try to get the deal for as little as possible. Part of its appeal, are the easy sign-up system, which doesn’t require you to first create a profile until you’ve actually won an auction. Continue reading Vakantieveilingen


Geo-location based pictures of any incivilities or disorders noticed in public areas

BetterStreet is a mobile application available on App Store and Google Play and takes also the form of a service online. Launched in 2013 as result of a small start up competition in Belgium, the service enables any citizen with a smartphone to take a geo-location based picture of any incivilities or disorders noticed in public areas, and to communicate it to the responsible municipality of the region. The picture can also be complemented with a brief comment of the issues to be solved by public authorities. The objective is not simply about creating a platform where people can complain and criticize the authorities. The approach is much more constructive and allows the citizen to follow the progress of their notifications, get informed when the problem is solved, and even reward municipalities for their good job! The company assures the maintenance and the development of the platform and propose integrated services of data management and processing to municipalities for annual subscription fee around 5000 euro, depending on the number of citizens living in the municipalities.


In practice, this Cloud service is very user-friendly and directly proposes three basic options at the opening of the app: Continue reading BetterStreet

The BitTorrent protocol

The platform uses the Bittorrent protocol, which has been created by Bram Cohen in April 2001 (Wikipedia, 2014).

The figure 1 provides a brief example of how it works: each shared file is divided in small elements that are downloadable by using a torrent client (each colored dot in figure 1 represents an element of the file). First, the big server is the only one that has the file; the big server is the only “seed” and the people that download elements are the “peers” (pic 1). Then people that downloaded some elements become “seeds” for these downloaded elements (pic 2) and they are also still “peers” (they still download from the big server (pic 3)). And so on until all the “peers” downloaded all the elements of the file they wanted (pic 8). Thus there is not only one source for a specific file, but instead all downloaders become a source, which allows a faster download than if there is only one unique provider. Continue reading The BitTorrent protocol

YouTube as a videogame hub

When thinking about YouTube and what the biggest channel in terms of subscribers is, you would probably be inclined to say that it would probably belong to either a very popular celebrity or large corporation. Miley Cyrus, Armin van Buuren, or Apple perhaps? However, would you be surprised to find out that it belongs to a 24-year old guy who reviews videogames for a living? Introducing Felix Kjellberg, or as he’s better known in the Youtube community: PewDiePie.

We’ve covered product reviewers before in the course who used Youtube as a medium and this particular phenomenon can also be fitted in this category. Let’s Players (or LP-ers for short) like PewDiePie create movies of themselves while playing games, usually while filming themselves and showing this in a corner of the video to capture their reactions as they play. During this time, they will provide their in-game commentary or talk about anything to fill the time, frequently accompanied by silly behaviour. But whether you love their (for the most part) exaggerated style or not, the figures speak for themselves: PewDiePie for example, currently has nearly 27 million subscribers and around 3.5 billion video views. Last year, it was estimated that he makes around 300.000 euros per month. Continue reading YouTube as a videogame hub


Too busy to do everything by yourself? Work-zilla will do it for you!

In the final year of my Bachelor, I had a class in Monetary Economics. The teacher for that class was a graduate from our faculty who just returned after his master program in South Korea. After one of the classes, he told us about his and his friend’s startup. It is an Internet platform in Russian that is called Work-zilla, where people can perform quite easy tasks for others for a little amount of money. At that time, I did not see big potential in that business but within two years, Work-zilla had 60,000 dollars turnover and about 100,000 users.

There two types of users of the platform: 1) clients who publish tasks and 2) performers who complete tasks. When clients create tasks, they should mention the type of task, and give a short description, including a deadline and a price. In two minutes, a client receives some candidates to do the task. Continue reading Work-zilla


How customers influence website design without knowing it

Frustrated how your favorite websites keep changing their designs? Obviously you can’t be the only one complaining about this, right? There must be a reason for it, but why? Now it turns out you (yes, YOU!) might be the actual reason for these changes!

Even before the beginning of the Internet, marketers used eye tracking to find out what people were watching when viewing an advertisement. A well known example of this it the advertisements below, for Sunsilk. It shows that even the smallest details like the direction of the eyes influences the attention that is paid to the product itself.

Advertisment for Sunsilk. The overlay shows where viewers were watching, red being the most watched areas.

Nowadays, this type of data is of immense value to website designers. Basically, three types of data on visitor’s behavior can be distinguished. Generally, the more informative these are, the harder or more expensive they are to obtain:

  • Simple visitor statistics (for instance:
  • Click-tracking (for instance:
  • Eye-tracking (for instance:

One way of using this visitor data is so-called A/B testing, where two different designs of the same website are uploaded, and visitors are assigned randomly to one of the two. Visitor data will then not only provide usable data on which of the versions sells the most products, for instance, but also how long visitors stayed at one page, which pages were the most popular, which links were clicked the most and how visitors find their way through the pages. Continue reading Heatmapping

How co-creation can literally create value

Cryptocurrency might be the one example where co-creating meets value creation in the most efficient sense possible, without additional transactions co-creation is turned directly into money. More specifically co-creation means creating money when it comes to cryptocurrencies such as the Bitcoin…


What is cryptocurency and how does it work?
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency. Nowadays many different types exist of which the Bitcoin is probably the most well known variety. Other popular cryptocurrencies are the Ripple, Litecoin, Peercoin, and Dogecoin. All these currencies have their origin in the 2008 paper by Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi Nakamoto is a bit of a myth himself and all sorts of rumors revolve around this person or group. A Bitcoin can be seen as a chain of signatures that are recorded from transaction to transaction. Transactions are recorded digitally in a public ledger. The currency is also decentralized, meaning that the transactions are not checked by one entity but many entities at the same time, and really the network holds ownership of the Bitcoin technology. The payments take place in a peer-to-peer system thereby getting rid of intermediaries such as banks or credit card companies. Requiring a lower fee for the transactions. Furthermore the currency can be anonymous in the sense that, if someone wants to go through a bit of hassle, nobody can see who is behind a certain “digital wallet”. The main advantage is that Bitcoins are easy to trade and a fee for the transaction is only optional (if you want to jump ahead of the cue). The main downside however is the high volatility with the price of the Bitcoin rising steeply around December 2013, to drop almost as steeply as well soon afterwards.


How does co-creation play a role in cryptocurrency?
Continue reading How co-creation can literally create value