It seems the next internet-based business craze is upon us, and it’s based in higher education. We’ve blogged about techie alternatives to traditional college before, and it looks like more and more entrepreneurs are interested in thinking outside the box when it comes to school. Schools providing internet-based learning tools and online classes like the University of Phoenix have been around for a while, but the newest names to the game are touting bigger and better promises.
One in particular, the Minerva Project, is claiming to rival Harvard’s level of excellence and expertise in just a few short years. Without a background in education (he comes from another tech startup – Snapfish), founder Ben Nelson could be asking for trouble. But he seems more than confident. In fact, in a recent article, he spoke proudly about one day sending his young daughter to Minerva. What sets Minerva above the rest? For one thing, the teaching process. Lesson plans will be developed by top university professors who, it seems, will act like independent consultants to the school. And then the actual lectures and discussions will be led by Ph. D. students. Also, the use of technology in tracking students’ progress is a major focus. Minerva is developing software specifically built to present how a student is doing in real time, so a teacher might be able to call on the student who needs more help in a certain area or to clarify a certain point that might have slipped through the cracks of another student. And, of course, all of this is done via video chat on your computer. Finally, it sounds as though the Minerva education will be exclusively focused on upper level courses though it claims to be a complete undergraduate degree. Education will be extremely specialized; if you want to take an introductory course, you’ll need to seek it out through another online course offering system.
I’m really interested to see how this plays out. First, can a fully online-based school really rival the likes of Harvard with its gathering of some of the highest minds in one physical place? Can video chat replace face-to-face interaction of learning? And will a university like this require high schoolers (and high schools) to enroll with a lot more under their belt in terms of introductory college classes? Time will tell.
Navigating the vast ocean of cosmetics is daunting for every woman. With skincare products formulated specifically for this skin type or that malady and makeup in every color under the sun in every texture in every price range, it can be difficult to know which is right for you. A new technology startup is set on making the difficult decision-making and aisle-strolling a thing of the past.
105 Looks is a web and Skype-based company that is essentially eliminating the painful and time-consuming experience of trolling the local mall makeup counter for women. Technology has generally not done very well in the area of cosmetics; many women feel they need to see colors in person, test them, and not pay for shipping. 105 Looks solves those problems as well.
With no membership fees, free shipping (both ways!), and a great return policy, you can purchase and test products at little risk. Moreover, the company boasts all of the high end, quality brands that specialty and department stores carry. And finally, the best part: a personal makeup consultant via Skype. This is brilliant. Everyone loves to shop in the comfort of her own home, and Skyping allows you to do just that with a personal sales assistant. It also means you can get a quality consultation while not wearing makeup without dragging yourself to the mall looking haggard. Your personal makeup stylist will have vast product knowledge, will listen to your skin woes and needs, and will make educated suggestions. Then you receive a box of cosmetics in the mail for you to try. I think I’m a believer.
To round out your Friday, we’ve picked a few of our favorite things right now. Find all of our inspiration over on Pinterest and follow along. Above, who doesn’t love a tufted wing-back chair for your office to really give your space that luxe look?
I love that Prada (left) is pushing colorblocking for men. These loafers are understated with just the right pop of color. And on the right, an altogether different look. I love the contrast of glossed black leather with the brown sole.
I’m seeing lots of geometric shapes in all things design lately – and this end table and these earrings are perfect examples. Mixing up shapes and hard and soft edges is refreshing.
When Mitt Romney admitted to liking Big Bird despite his plans to pull government funding from PBS during the presidential debate, an explosion of Big Bird memes, videos, and tweets occurred in the muppet’s defense. No matter your political affiliation (and it looks like Big Bird will survive without government funding anyway), you couldn’t ignore the outpouring of comical images that spread like wildfire. But the story doesn’t end there.
In a brilliant move, PBS decided to harness some of Big Bird’s SEO power at the height of the twitter craziness. They made an ad buy for the words “Big Bird” on twitter, meaning that whenever someone searched Big Bird on the social network, an ad for PBS showed up as a first hit. Many companies could learn a thing or two from PBS. Too many ignore these kinds of social media frenzies (especially if the memes make fun of your company) instead of capitalizing on the attention and redirecting viewers’ attention back to what makes your company great.
Pantone, the famous color company known for naming the color of the season and instigating a craze of hue-obsessed fashion, wedding, and cosmetic trends (see Tangerine Tango of summer 2012), has now released a Skin-Tone Guide. A hefty endeavor – skin colors, it can be argued, differ with as much variation as individuals differ themselves – but Pantone came up with about 100 hues that represent both the overtones and undertones of the human skin.
This project is completely brilliant as Pantone capitalizes on color-matching and color-correcting markets setting out to perfect skin colors. Industries that are likely to benefit include makeup, fashion, photographers, and graphic designers but also cosmetic surgeons and others in the medical field. Perhaps Crayola will soon follow suit so school art projects will also reflect realistic skin tones.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about the NBA or about who D. Rose is. But… this Adidas commercial makes me a believer. A believer in the great heroics of professional basketball, a believer in the power of personal perseverance, a believer in… Adidas? Yes, I guess so. Here, Adidas successfully captures the human story, or at least one human’s story, and they’ve made us all a part of it. We are drawn in, captivated, holding our breath, until the awaited hero rises again. Moreover, they’ve taken a disheartening situation for fans and capitalized on its universal appeal; everyone (not just Bulls fans) loves the story of a champion soldiering on after a lost battle.
Creative ad agencies get told ‘no’ all the time by their clients. Perhaps the branding was too serious or not serious enough, too quirky, too bold, too risque, too conservative. Well, Mother New York devised a strategy to never hear ‘no’ again. They created their own company to brand. Thus, White Pike Whiskey was born. And the branding is cheeky, forward, and totally cool.
Of course, starting a craft liquor company from within an ad agency is no easy feat (though it might seem to make a lot of sense if you’ve been watching Mad Men), and Mother New York didn’t do it alone. But once they’d paired up with the people who knew a thing or two about whiskey, they had free range to design a bottle, build an identity, and create the ads they wanted to. Kind of brilliant.