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Friday, December 03, 2004

Idea of the Month: December 2004

The struggling video retailer, Blockbuster should offer free CD and DVD repair/cleaning. DVD's have a tendency to become scratched over time, and consumers would love this service to keep their DVD's working as new. Blockbuster could offer a kiosk in the store where customers could come in and repair their disks using the automated repair tools offered on the kiosk. This would draw foot traffic for the right type of consumer, the movie customer, with kids.

Simple ideas such as this free service are 'Blockbusters'. Look at ideas such as CoinStar which perform a simple service of sorting change. This has netted Jens Molbak (founder of CoinStar) millions of dollars in pennies. Read below for more detail on the Coinstar Story.

The Coinstar Story

The idea for Coinstar came from Jens Molbak while a graduate student at Stanford University. Jens was sitting in his dorm room one night when he began thinking about the jar of coins sitting on top of his dresser. He realized there really wasn't a good way to put those coins to use.

In 1989, Jens began interviewing supermarket shoppers as part of a graduate school project. What he learned from those shoppers confirmed his suspicions: he wasn't alone. People have a lot of change at home and really don't care to go through the trouble of sorting, wrapping, and rolling those coins in order to take them to the bank.

Two years later, with his Stanford degree in hand, Jens founded Coinstar. Two classmates who shared his goal of creating an easy way for people to turn their accumulated coins into cash joined him. They got to work and eventually succeeded in creating a machine that could quickly count change while filtering out the nuts, bolts, paper clips, and other "dirt" that is often found in piggy banks and coin jars.

By 1992, Jens' new company was ready to test out their new machine in the real world. Coinstar's machines were installed in four San Francisco Bay Area supermarkets. Consumers loved the service prompting Jens and company to embark on an ambitious expansion plan that resulted in Coinstar being named one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.

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