More Than a Product: Innovation for a New Era

Evolving Products to Platforms in a Changing World

Don’t Think Product. Think Platform.

“Investors don’t want to hear that you just make a product, like a coffee maker,” said Roderick de Rode, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spinn, which does, as a matter of fact, make a coffee maker. And yet, what Spinn offers is a long way from the classic Mr. Coffee. For starters, Spinn’s coffee maker features a patented, centrifugal brewing system (which would even work in space!).

Spinn also features something no other coffee maker offers: a built-in connection to a large network of coffee roasters from around the world.

Product vs Platform

The creation and marketing of this community was not an afterthought; it was an integral part of Spinn’s vision. About the time Roderick acquired the patent for his new coffee maker, he started to notice something. “I saw these independent coffee roasters popping up in Amsterdam,” he said. “These were all three-man bands making great products with a passion for great-tasting coffee. But no one could find them because they were hidden in these little alleys and streets around Amsterdam. They had very cool packaging and made great coffee, but they didn’t have any online presence.”

Thus the vision for Spinn came together. The coffee maker itself would play a role, but, as unique as it was, it would not be the focus. Instead, Roderick chose to focus on connecting first to coffee enthusiasts and then the wider public with amazing coffee, using a variety of technologies to do so.

Thinking of a product as a platform involves connecting the dots. If people want to have a great cup of coffee, giving them a machine that can make it is a start. But where do they get the beans? From a network of roasters. How do they get the beans? Through a subscription service.

“What we’re doing is making a platform for artisanal coffee roasters to sell their products and market their products in a way that hasn’t been done before. Essentially, we’ve created a marketplace for independent coffee roasters. And the machine is a carrier to the kitchen of our consumers that makes them a better cup of coffee. What we’ve done is created an endto-end coffee experience.”

– —Roderick de Rode, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Spinn

How do they make the best cup of coffee? By allowing the machine to learn new recipes based on the properties of the bean. And how do you make interaction with the machine as convenient as possible? Allow customers to control it with an app or voice commands.

Product innovation calls for thinking beyond the product. It involves seeing the product as a potential platform—or as part of a larger platform—allowing you to envision all the complementary products and services that can plug into this platform. In this way, you provide customers an ever-expanding network of value and constantly evolving experience.