Warms is a Montreal-based startup aiming to put a new twist on the casual/occasional gifts market. Positioned as cheaper than flowers, less stuffy than baskets, and more substantial than cards and e-cards, Warms are small mysterious gift crates that reveal not only a surprise plush creature but also links to a private personalized video message and e-gift from the sender; a layered experience. The project was unveiled this week on the popular creative crowd-funding site Kickstarter for an inaugural limited-edition run.
Here’s a video explaining Warms in more detail:
As of this moment, Warms has 8 backers pledging $395. They’re aiming for $4,500 by August 19. Co-founder Steve Hardy has written a guest post below that speaks to some of the thinking and vision behind Warms.
Since 2002 I’ve maintained a blog called Creative Generalist which, among other things, espouses some long held beliefs that broad thinking leads to big ideas. A common thread throughout many of the posts and many of the articles that are linked to is the notion that some of the most fertile and relatively undeveloped ground for new ideas is located between disciplines, cultures, technologies, generations, perspectives, and so on. Obviously there’s innovation in specializing but there’s loads of potential too by spanning silos.
I think bridging is highly underrated.
In 2004 strategy+business then contributing editor Nicholas G. Carr put forward a fascinating case for conservative innovation over disruption, arguing that bridging the breakthrough gap [http://www.strategy-business.com/article/04402?gko=377d7] is a better third way — the other two are being the first mover or being the copycat — to profit from an innovation. By finding the space between where the big idea will be and where the market already is one can both profit immediately from the innovation while also moving into a better position for the future. Carr uses a couple great examples: Netflix beating webcasters that had outinnovated a market not yet serviced with broadband connections, and Toyota showing patience on the hrdrogen fuel cell front by first producing a car (the Prius) that still uses existing technology even while moving away from it.
“There’s an important lesson in this story: When a disruptive new technology arrives, the greatest business opportunities often lie not in creating the disruption but in mending it — in figuring out…a way to use an older, established technology as a bridge to carry customers to the benefits of the emerging technology.”
“When we talk about business innovation today, we tend to use terms like breakthrough and pioneering and revolutionary. But some of the greatest and most lucrative innovations are essentially conservative. They are brought to market by companies that are as adept at looking backward as looking forward, and that have the skill and patience to achieve the most commercially attractive balance between the old and the new. “Conservative innovation” may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s an idea that deserves to be a part of every company’s thinking.”
“Conservative innovation follows a different path, a third way. Conservative innovators neither pioneer a new technology nor copy it. Rather, they combine it with an older technology to create a different sort of product altogether. And, often, it’s exactly the product that today’s customers actually need, want, and are willing to pay for.”
Warms is a good example too. Each of the four layers — mystery, surprise, emotion, reward — in the experience we deliver is not particularly original. Giving a gift item, opening a jack-in-the-box, playing a web video, and using e-gifts – these have all been around long before we have, and in many varieties of flavours. But our combination of these existing ingredients is original. The new comes from re-imaging and remixing the old. (See also: The Amen Break and The Raccoon Riff).
Taken further, there is another key valley that Warms attempts to span by being simultaneously a physical and a digital service. It’s certainly not easy to do both and there are many good reasons to specialize in one side or the other (most startups these days tend to be web-only) but there are also missed opportunities.
For us, we want to marry old-fashioned authenticity with web-centric ease. Sending a greeting via email or e-card is almost too easy and thoughtless now; there may be good intentions behind it but a digital gift lacks something real/tangible. And then there’s age. Many casual gifts are given by young adults who are quite familiar with the internet and social media to older people more familiar and comfortable with receiving an actual object. Warms’ hybrid physical+digital flow covers this job in two ways; for some it’s a physical product with a bridge to the digital while for others it’s a digital product with an anchor in an object of value.
And on both sides of the bridge are relatively mature pieces that most people already understand and appreciate. Perhaps not cutting edge but a breakthrough nonetheless.
If you’re interested in Warms, you can check it out (and contribute) here: http://kck.st/qzRjA4.