Launch a Competitor to Your Company

innovate and know your competition?

Launch a competitor within your own company. Yes, internally.

Why? If you don’t do it, someone else will.

How? Get a team of five (5) people from various areas. For ex. someone from Accounting, Legal, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and/or Business Development.

What? Assemble the team, have them list weakness and problems the company has, and for them to provide solutions and launch a company that is stronger.

Result: You are taking people who know your company, realize it’s problems/weaknesses and see the opportunities. Do you realize this might save your company, and you may own the market by owning both companies?

Did you know people quit their day job and do this on their own?

Recommend: Form a new entity such as an LLC, owned by your parent company, launch a competitor, create an operating agreement and grant the founding team a small stake before they go out and do it on their own time and dime and come after your customers

Roadmap to Leaving Your Corporate Job and Starting a Creative Business Part 4

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork and have a unique product that your customers want, you are ready to launch. So what does ‘launching a product’ entail and how do you make the most of this challenge?

In my experience, the most successful launches are the ones that have been well thought out in advance. A launch should be seen as merely optimizing the results of the hard work you have been doing through the time leading up to it. As a creative product designer, here are my top strategies for launch:

  1. Your network: Take advantage of the network you’ve been building for the last 1 year (see part 1 of this series) and announce in-person and over email that you are launching your product on a specific date. Make sure to remind people of the need your product fills or the solution it brings. This will make it easier for them to talk about you. Make this communication as personable as possible (stay away from formal PR release style of communication). Give these people a link to pre-signup to get further information and start building your list (if you haven’t already been doing it). At Madesmith, we use Kickoff Labs to create well-designed sign-up pages.
  2. Bloggers: A few weeks before the launch, reach out to influential bloggers (large and small) in your industry, and send them a nicely crafted physical package (before sending, ask them if it’s okay), or an email. Make sure to describe why your product is different, how it fits their audience and their blog, and why they would want to talk about it. Remember, all bloggers are looking for quality content. You don’t have to sound like they are doing you a favor, rather focus on how this can be mutually beneficial. Always, make sure that you are reaching out to blogs whose readers might be your target customers. If a large blogger is interested in your product and company, perhaps you can offer them exclusive launch coverage. Make sure to include information about yourself, your story, your vision, high resolution images and other highlights of your product in order to make the bloggers life easy. Again, refrain from sending them lookbooks, and formal press releases. They can come across as impersonal and old fashioned. It’s okay to nudge the blogger if you haven’t heard back in a few days. But, don’t be pushy and make sure to be very polite.
  3. Social Media: Start getting your followers ready for the launch. Share behind the scenes with them at least a few days before. You could also offer your existing followers additional benefits for early sign up. Create your own buzz and give them interesting angles to talk about with their friends. For example, since our story launches include extensive photography, we post behind the scenes photos to ourInstagram. Our community loves seeing these un-edited glimpses.
  4. Referral program: A well thought out referral program is extremely efficient and can increase your sales exponentially. Some good examples of a good referral program include Everlane, Dropbox, and Airbnb. Make sure that your referral program is simple and really worth the effort for the users. It should get them super excited and provide enough value to them that they are willing to risk their digital reputation to share it with their networks.

Young & Entrepreneurial: Let the Adventures Begin with the Adventure Bucket List Founding Team

Young and Entrepreneurial is a series of articles where I’ve decided to interview and write about young individuals disrupting the world. By sharing the stories of these individuals, I hope to inspire youth from all over the world to follow their passions, to take the road less traveled and to disrupt the status quo. This is the 20th post in the Young and Entrepreneurial Series. To read previous features and to stay up to date with future features, like our Facebook page here.


Everyone loves traveling because of the endless possible adventures and experiences that traveling offers. I recently got the opportunity to interview the founders of Adventure Bucket List, a startup that aims to empower travellers, allowing them to discover and book things before they arrive by aggregating all the adventure activities out there into one website. They also provide activity providers with an extensive network so that travelers can discover their offerings more easily.

The three founders Ryan Stobie (CEO), Blake Pridham (COO) and Rita LeBlanc (Customer and Relationships Manager) all graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2014 before deciding to jump full-force into Adventure Bucket List(ABL).



They recently had a soft launch of their booking software in specific regions and have been rapidly on boarding companies. They plan to continue expanding to new places through both partner travel ties and by creating their own market place for travel activities.

They have been making waves in the Canada startup scene, having won multiple competitions like the UBC Entrepreneur Boot Camp, the Vancouver Startup Showdown and the Plug and Play Tech Center Fall Expo 2014. The Travel Startups Incubator has also invested in them as well.

Melissa McCarthy: Stores Make Plus-Size Shoppers Feel Less Worthy

Melissa McCarthy’s highly anticipated clothing line is finally here!

In addition to providing fashionable, affordable clothing to women of all shapes and sizes, McCarthy wants her line to bring some much-needed change to the entire shopping experience.

In a new interview with Refinery 29, McCarthy said that retailers divide customers based on size, and it simply doesn’t make sense to put such a vast amount of shoppers into their own, “less-than” category.

“Seventy percent of women in the United States are a size 14 or above, and that’s technically ‘plus-size,’ so you’re taking your biggest category of people and telling them, ‘You’re not really worthy.’ I find that very strange,” she said.

McCarthy told the site that she’s already getting help from “a couple of very big retailers” in bridging the gap. While she did not disclose the stores by name just yet, her mission to normalize the shopping experience for everyone is quite clear.

“I said, ‘Run the sizes as I make them and let friends go shopping with their friends. Stop segregating women.’ And they said, ‘Okay,’” McCarthy said of her conversations with retailers that would carry her clothing line.

Design Valuation Dashboard Captures the Potential of Design Driven Startups

Pasadena Startup, [Applied Design Science], launches online crowdsourced design valuation platform to help entrepreneurs and investors assess business potentials of design driven startups.

With the emergence of equity crowdfunding and the recent liberalization of startups, novice investors and entrepreneurs alike are drawn to risky endeavors. The advent of its Design Valuation Dashboard allows [Applied Design Science] to provide a reliable, evidence-based tool for assessing a startup’s probability of success. The online crowdsourced design valuation platform assesses a startup’s market, technology and execution risk, as well as their design quality performance. Applying a multi-variable linear regression, the platform analyzes design quantification together with the wisdom of the crowd. It effectively screens early and mid-phase startups and greatly reduces their risk of loss.

Developed in collaboration with Stanford University, Art Center College of Design, Copenhagen Business School, Innovate
Pasadena and the INDEX: Award, [Applied Design Science] has leveraged over a decade of design science research into a unique Design Valuation Dashboard. Powered by established design quantification metrics, the platform will provide investors and startups with an online community forum that assists in developing ideas into viable action plans for designing new businesses. [Applied Design Science] is founded by Stanford Alumni, Dr. Søren Ingomar Petersen, Art Center Alumni, Chuck Chugumlung and USC Alumni, Agustin Grube – inspired by the philosophy: breakthrough innovation made possible by design.

Windows Phone 7 Launch Comes to NYC

Today was the long-awaited launch of the Microsoft Windows Phone 7. Keynoting the launch was Steve Ballmer. AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega was also present and explained their commitment to Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. Ballmer proudly exclaimed that they will have 60 mobile operators in over 30 countries to reveal the first Windows Phone 7 handsets. A broad selection of phones will begin shipping in holiday 2010 with more arriving in 2011.

There will be 9 phones available, from HTC to Dell to LG.

One of the main points that Ballmer and de la Vega kept driving was that “Windows Phone 7 is your phone.” The mobile OS is designed to keep you in touch with the people who mean the most to you. If Microsoft designs a marketing campaign around that — “Windows Phone 7 is your phone” — Ww will not only see Microsoft do well this holiday but perhaps also take back a few percentage points from iOS and Android.

The US will see the first Windows Phone 7 on November 8, 2010. It will be the Samsung Focus on AT&T for $199.99; which will sport a Super AMOLED display. Other handsets will follow a few weeks after; like the LG Quantum for $199.99 and the HTC Surround for $199.99 — both on AT&T.

The Windows Phone 7 Product Line is distinguishing themselves by:
Microsoft’s deep portfolio of products and services, such as Xbox LIVE, Microsoft Office Mobile, Zune, Windows Live and Bing
The customizable Start screen with Live Tiles — with real-time updates from the Web such as news, appointments or the status of friends
Zune, which allows you to play music by syncing wirelessly from your PC, stream and download from the Windows Marketplace.
Dedicated search button to help you find what you need — contacts, music from the Market Place, e-mails or anything from the Web
The Windows Live solution, which helps people manage pictures, Windows Live calendar, Office OneNote Mobile and more.

The Top Ten Activated Mobile Devices

One of the most interesting presentations that came out of CTIA was from Good Technology. The company generated a report based on mobile device activation. According to Good Technology the top 10 activated mobile devices, from May through September 2010 were:
iPhone 4
iPhone 3GS
Droid X
HTC Cedar
iPhone 3G
Droid 2
Samsung I637
Samsung Blackjack 2
Droid Incredible
It’s not a surprise that the iPhone 4 is the most activated handset. Nor that Apple occupies four positions in the Good Technology analysis. According to MobileCrunch for Q3 (July 1 through Sept. 30, 2010), Apple has sold 8.4 million iPhones. From that number — the iPhone 4 makes up roughly 3 million units. The iPad is also making a profound impact in the space with estimated sales of 8.5 million units.
What I find rather curious is the swift pace that the enterprise and its end users are adopting the iPhone 4 and the iPad.

… we found that within two months of its launch, the Apple iPhone 4, is already the most frequently activated device among Good’s enterprise customers. The Apple iPad also leaped into Good’s “top five” devices this quarter…

— Good Technology
Good Technology explains overall:
iOS devices represented more than 50 percent of net new activations from May 1 through Sept. 30, 2010
Android devices represented nearly 30 percent of net new activations over that period
Windows Mobile devices represented 15 percent of net new activations over that period
Symbian devices represented less than 5 percent of net new activations over that period
So what does all this data mean? As more end users begin to adopt smartphones and tablets for personal use — they quickly begin to see the value that these smart devices can have in their professional lives. SDI — a healthcare market analytics firm — found that 30% of physicians accessed medical information from a smartphone. The study found that the most popular smartphone amongst physicians was the iPhone — with 31% of physicians owning one.
Why are devices like smartphones and tablets penetrating the enterprise, at times replacing the need for a computer? The answer is not complicated — ease of use. SDI reports that 52 percent of physicians obtained medical information several times a day from a smart phone.

Does this trend indicate that we will see more professionals — like teachers and lawyers accessing data through a smart device? I would say — absolutely. Professionals will not just access data but they will interact with the data. I can see a scenario where a physician can pull up a patients chart, consult a colleague across the country, e-prescribe medication, email the patient to pick-up the medication and then have the ability to monitor the patience health. Did I mention that all of these actions were done from the comfort of a tablet?