Will Dean's Ideas Factory: Save a local business – go 'cash mobbing'


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The Independent Online

Last week a short film called Caine's Arcade went around Twitter like a Daily Mail editorial. It told the story of a young boy from Los Angeles who spent his summer making a cardboard arcade. It remained patronless until local filmmaker Nirvan Mullick put the word out online and Caine received a surprise – hundreds of customers. (ind.pn/cainearcade). Just try not to start blubbing while you watch.

A similar logic is behind the vogue for "cash mobbing" – a community initiative that's beginning to flourish in American towns and cities.

The idea is simple. If there's a local business – a bookshop, pharmacy, newsagent, etc – that's under threat financially or from big, corporate competition, then local citizens who want the shop to remain viable turn up en masse but instead of dancing to promote a well-known German telecommunications supplier (as in flash-mobbing), they aim to spend a set amount at the store to give it a fighting fund to stay in business. Or, even if the business isn't teetering on the brink, to boost its coffers to insure future trading.

On 24 March, the team behind cashmob.com organised the first national Cash Mob Day, but the idea is a year-round one. It works by having people worried about a local business proposing it to be "mobbed". The website promotes it and everyone turns up with their cash (the owners are usually notified in advance so they can prepare). The idea – along with the cash boost for cafés and stores – is also to show locals who may not be aware of a good local business what they're missing. And we like it.


The jukebox gets super-connected

Although digital jukeboxes with a near infinite supply of tunes, or at least more than 40 records or Best of Motown CDs, are nothing new – they're still firmly rooted in the traditional model of the jukebox, just with a bit more choice.

If that's the digital jukebox, then the digital jukebox 2.0 could well be the TouchTunes Virtuo which costs American bar owners $5,495 (£3,468) and launched early last year, it offers 400,000 songs, connects to a venue's broadband and even offers an app that allows lazy patrons to control what they put on the jukebox from the other side of the bar. Which is good for those desperate to hear Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers' "Swing the Mood" in the presence of others, but are too ashamed to go up and press the buttons. Perhaps rightly so.

The Virtuo, developed by the company's chief executive officer, Charles Goldstuck, formerly of music giant BMG, is now in 34,000 bars and restaurants in North America and, in a year, claims to have had around 900 million paid-for plays. It might not just be the ailing jukebox industry it transforms – it could be the entire music industry.

Read more: ind.pn/superjuke

A coded way to start the day

The mobile phone alarm clock has become the way that millions of people wake themselves up every morning. But if you keep your phone next to the bed it's so easy to smash the snooze button (six times) and make yourself late for work. Which is why a new, free, Android app called Morning Routine aims to get you all the way out of bed on time.

It works by using barcodes of household items. You scan a product with your smartphone's camera, set the time you need to be woken and – when 6.45am rolls around, you have to search out that item and scan it for the alarm to shut up.

The idea – developed by Norwegian Håvard Christensen of the agency Agens – is that you programme it with something in the fridge or the bathroom.

Although sleepy cheats could cleverly place their bottle of shampoo next to the bed, there isn't yet an app to get around that problem.

See more: ind.pn/barcodealarm

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