Sometimes, and I mean just sometimes, humanity produces mediocrity of such epic proportions while inappropriately labeling it under the guise of “revolutionary breakthrough” that I must take to the streets, stand on my soap box, and let loose the mad man inside me.
Before going any further, I would like my readers to first read this article published in GeekWire – ‘Amazon vet’s new robot-powered apparel startup aims to revolutionize how we buy clothes‘. Then recede back to this post.
And for the rest of you who didn’t bother to click on the link to read the original piece, in summary, it talks about new clothing retailer – Hointer, “Seattle’s newest men’s clothing store that’s powered by robots and your smartphone“. According to one shopper interviewed for that article, “This isn’t shopping. This is focused, high-efficiency buying.” Umm…whatever! Its supposed to be some major breakthrough in men’s retailing like never seen before (thought this issue went the way of smallpox since the tv show ‘Queer Eye For The Straight Guy‘ had its run in 2003). Guess not.
So great technical minds continue to work on the solution of finding a “breakthrough” in men’s jeans picking with ardour. And is born Hointer, where you walk in to a retail store, with you smartphone in hand, browse through almost unlimited specs of jeans, scan on QR codes for the ones you like, go to the fitting room, items arrive through some dispensing machine, try ‘em, like ‘em, just buy ‘em with a quick scan through your smartphone app and off you go. larkycanuck.com | Social Commentary | Technology | The Paradox of Innovationg and Really Dumb Ideas
But it is not the technology itself that intrigues me. There are two things about this whole business model that bamboozled me.
This technological “revolution” was pioneered by a former employee of Amazon, the online retailing behemoth, who was able to raise seed capital of $5 million from friends and family and now is in process of securing additional venture funding (in the $$million range I suppose, its chump change for them [venture caps]). I think it is reasonable to assume that anybody who worked at Amazon is of the prodigious kind (but then again I never read the book ‘21 Dog Years: Doing Time at Amazon.Com‘). In fact, according to the article, the founder has “earned a PhD in mathematics from Princeton and worked for several startups before spending the past eight years as head of Supply Chain and Fulfillment Technologies for Amazon”. [nuff said]
Now I ain’t no math whiz and I ain’t got no PhD. I hated taking the SAT, transferred out of engineering in to liberal arts, and then later skipped all MBA program applications that required having to take the GMAT or GRE. Bottomline: Brilliant I am not. So I harbor no penchant for launching the next tech innovation. That’s my excuse. But one thing I do have is some good ol’ fashioned common sense. And so I ask – Revolution? Innovation? Huh? This is IT – A mutation between your local dry cleaners and your local DVD dispensing machine! Wowza! What’s your excuse?
While I cannot predict the future, I suspect this business is going to take off big time (like with anything else that involves the hipster, webbie, geeky, pseudo street-style cred of the tech generation). I consider myself tech-savvy enough. I get many of the innovations. Heck, I will admit that I am the ideal target customer for this store. Infact, if I am in the vicinity, I might even pop in and check it out and end up buying something from there. Okay so I am not questioning the inventiveness of this business model.
But what I don’t get is how so many new ventures have launched in the past few years, jumping on the bandwagon of so called “disruptive technology”, and claiming to “change the way” we listen, hear, smell, touch and shit. Seriously? I call it littering the webosphere with really dumb ideas packaged as fantastical ones.
Recent decades have seen some of the greatest dumbest innovations unleashed on mankind – The first dot.com craze, Pets.com, 0% money down home loans, Collateralized Debt Obligations, Mortgage backed securities, Angry Birds, Jersey Shore…..[list infinitum]
There comes a point of diminishing returns by our constant desire to reinvent the wheel. Over and over. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
NO. Hointer business model is NOT a dumb idea. But is it TRULY innovative in a way that it transforms the lives of the mass for betterment?
Note how this venture has no problem receiving funding from the street. I could not even raise a measly $150 bucks from the neighborhood for a winter street clearing program. This makes me wonder what’s going on in the heads of the brilliant minds these days. Am I missing something. Am I so “out of touch” that I can’t remotely comprehend how invaluable these “life changing” breakthroughs are that I should jump hoops and get on with the status quo. I mean if an overkill on jeans selection procedure is the “revolutionary” and “innovative” breakthrough that receives all the financial backing from the Valley and the Alley then what hope are the ‘dumbers’ like me left with.
What do you think my readers? What has been your experience with advent of so many technical innovations in the past five years?
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