I was about to start working on a "console" to control the Detour Flag guy: something to allow/encourage a passer-by to control him via a smartphone.
But before I got started on that -- I got a lucky break: a spot on a counter in the Taza Chocolate Bar, in downtown Boston.
This was a location in the real world: an IoT outpost in the colder, harsher world beyond Cambridge Hackspace, where the Detour Flag guy had been hanging out.
I scored this beachhead after my first email, to my first choice.
Why the Taza Chocolate Bar:
- Because I had already stopped by the place a few times since it opened, as one of the anchor tenants in an ambitious agricultural marketplace in the center of Boston: the Boston Public Market.
- Because the chocolate is radical: strong, gritty, to-the-point. Dark. A few squares from a $5 Taza Chocolate bar in my desk drawer, with an Earl Grey Tea chaser, was a sure-fire ticket to a late afternoon lift.
- Also, the radical, untraditional nature of the chocolate gave me the idea that the company was probably radical and untraditional.
- Also, I had visited the factory once, for The Boston Globe, so I knew it was not your typical startup.
- Also, they seemed to be into untraditional venues: I had seen them at many farmer’s markets.
- Also, I had noticed that the Taza CEO would often ride past me on my way to work. He rode a stripped-down road bike. One time, surprised to see him, I just said “Taza Chocolate” as he rode by. He gave me a wave.
So I sent an email to the PR/Press address on the Taza website.
A week or so later, I was sharing a dark hot chocolate in the Boston Public Market with Amanda, Taza's retail manager.
My pitch: a little interactive guy with a DETOUR flag, controllable by visitors' smartphones, might make the Taza Chocolate Bar a little more interesting.
Surprisingly, she got the idea almost instantly.
"Sounds fun," she said. "Just check with the manager, Christine, when she gets in tomorrow."