By Genevieve Long
Wired Biz is investing in the future of online innovation by putting its money where its mouth is. The website, an offshoot of WIRED magazine, will give one small business a $40,000 cash prize at the end of a month-long competition running through the end of December. The five competing businesses were chosen from self-entries in the Wired Small Biz program following months of judging.
WIRED Biz was created through a partnership between WIRED, Brother International Corporation and American Express OPEN and launched in Aug. 2008. The site’s goal is to be a destination site for the benefit of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Voting for the competition winner will continue through the month of December.
Among the competitors are a web-based platform for connecting creative talent with projects, an innovative speaker system for the iPhone and iPod Touch, an online tool for checking the social and environmental ranking of corporations, an online music publishing house for independents, and classic, easy-to-wear board shorts that help the environment.
Ross Kimbarovsky was an intellectual property lawyer and his friend Mike Samson was a Hollywood producer, but they had a common problem—the challenge of finding good creative talent. The Chicago-based venture crowdSPRING, born out of a desire to connect talent with those looking for it, was launched in mid-2008. The first “creative”—as the company calls them—who bid for and completed a project turned out to be a nighttime janitor with a knack for creative design. In seven months since, 15,000 projects have been posted. Says co-founder Mike Samson about the chance creatives have to bid on and win projects, “It’s purely on the basis of their talent”.
Arthur and Alexander Gillett were finding themselves involved in so many conversations about how to evaluate the social and environmental responsibility of companies they decided to make a living out of it. The Brooklyn-based brothers created an online destination for curious consumers that ranks companies based on their environmental and social behavior. The best ranking is 10, the worst is a 1, and alternative companies are offered. Users can search Scryve’s website to find rankings or install a web tool that will automatically tell the ranking of a company when on their site. Says co-founder Arthur Gillett, “The idea was like, ‘Wow, this is something that could really change the world’”.
Brothers Jerry and Sam Delaney were in the ocean on Memorial Day of 2007 when they decided to do something about what they saw as a lack of classic board shorts. The New Jersey natives, who were tired of board shorts below the knee and with crazy patterns, took the concept a step beyond making money. Greenlines shorts, launched in the summer of 2008, are made out of 100 percent recycled polyester, and 5 percent of every purchase goes back to protect the ocean and marine life of the community the purchase was made. Says co-founder Jerry Delaney, “This isn’t just about one product—it’s the philosophy of our company”.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and in Erik Groset’s case it’s true. The recent college graduate, whose grandfather was an inventor, realized that the iPhone and iPod Touch needed more and better sound quality. So he and Robin Defay created livespeakr, ultra-portable speakers that attach to the iPhone and iPod Touch and can fit in your pocket. The speakers can expand, contract, and rotate to portrait and landscape modes, and are is shielded against radio frequency and cell phone interference.
Tone Box Digital
Jason Bradford created Tone Box Records, Inc. in late 2004 as an outlet for the world of digital music. The site gives independent artists a way to create, market and sell their projects internationally. According to Tone Box’s website, it currently has over 50 digital outlets, including iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, Rhapsody, Starbucks and others. Amazon, live365, Accuradio, and mp3.com have also signed agreements with Tone Box for online promotion.