Posted by Tom Foremski - March 14, 2013
I had the recent pleasure of meeting brothers Alessio and Luca Morena (above) who are co-founders of iCoolHunt, an Italian startup hoping to break into the lucrative $36 billion market for providing corporations with reports on what's trending in their markets.
Levis lost billions in sales because it missed the baggy jeans trend in the mid-90s. Corporations are paranoid about missing things and iCoolHunt will help them stay current by enlisting armies of "Cool hunters" around the globe posting photos of things they see.
The startup is the first to be backed by one of Italy's largest banks, a distinction that doesn't help the boys much except with money.
Allessio is a web designer and Luca is the philosopher and they believe that there is a "code" to "cool" and that cracking it will help their clients pick the trends that will become mainstream versus the ones that stay under the radar and stay small.
Anyone can join, and they don't have to be "cool" because knowing what's cool does't require being cool which is partly why they chose a ridiculous mascot a graphic of an elephant wearing an umbrella as a hat.
The service will also look at other signals of "cool" by monitoring other web sites.
The name of the site could cause some problems, there's lots of "cool hunting" type sites such as this one:
"Cool Hunting is synonymous with seeking inspiration--our stories and videos highlight creativity and innovation in design, technology, style, culture, food and travel. With a global team of editors and contributors we create our award-winning publication, consisting of daily updates and weekly mini-documentaries."
Which means it's difficulty to build a unique destination when the term "cool hunting" is so generic.
The iCoolHunt site is open to anyone but it's not clear what the benefit is to the people that join. The brothers say that a revenue share is offered but they only have a a handful of clients and are providing reports based on conventional approaches until the site starts generating data.
A better way might be to restrict membership so that only the best "cool hunters" are employed.
Or make it into a game where people cool hunt as a fun activity that let's them discover more about their city or region. The game aspect is promoted on their site but there is no game with specific missions or goals or deadlines beyond getting a badge. Badges don't motivate people as much as they once did.
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