Read All About It!

This news was a bit fresher when it was sent to me by Mike of ComicsDC. Thank you, Mike. Forgive me for the lag. Food, food and more food got in the way. Farm-to-Table Week at my son’s school, and me at work, up to my elbows in food, food, food, styling for Cuisine Solutions new launch.

One weekend and four naps later, The Lunch Encounter is OPEN.

Selected from The Times’s technology columnist, David Pogue’s free weekly e-mail newsletter.

The Creator of the Flip Camcorder Plans to Open 500 Grilled-Cheese-and-Soup Restaurants by 2015.

June 2, 2011, 2:57 PM

Flipping to Grilled Cheese

This spring, I taught a course at the Columbia Business School called, “Consumer Tech: What Makes a Hit a Hit, and a Flop a Flop.” It was supposed to be half lectures, half guest speakers.

One of my speakers was Jonathan Kaplan, founder and chief executive of Pure Digital. That’s the company that made the wildly successful Flip camcorders, the company that Cisco bought two years ago for $590 million, the company that Cisco then shut down last month, without any reasonable explanation.

One of my speakers was Jonathan Kaplan, founder and chief executive of Pure Digital. That’s the company that made the wildly successful Flip camcorders, the company that Cisco bought two years ago for $590 million, the company that Cisco then shut down last month, without any reasonable explanation.

Some highlights from the story:

Mr. Kaplan also gave us a few lessons from his life as a serial entrepreneur.

* “It’s not about the hour, day, week; it’s about the month, quarter, year.”
* “It’s better to be happy than to be right. (It’s hard for driven people to realize this.)”
* “Say thank you.”
* “Anything is possible.”

* “Simple is hard.”

* “The product’s name is really important. If we’d called it Zeezo, it would have failed.”

So what about the future? “I get an e-mail a week from investment bankers asking me to resuscitate Flip,” he said. But he’s not going there.

Instead, he told us, he intends to launch a new venture, one that embraces “all the same tenets as the Flip: Simple, nostalgic, memorable, affordable.” But he left us all hanging without telling us what it was.

Yesterday, he unveiled his new company. What do you supposed the creator of the Flip camcorder does for an encore?

He founds a chain of grilled-cheese-and-soup restaurants.

That’s right. He plans to open five The Melt restaurants around San Francisco this year, then 500 more nationwide by 2015. You’ll order online or from your phone; you’ll be sent a QR barcode, which you hold up to a scanner when you arrive at the restaurant. Your sandwich and soup combo ($8) will be ready in one minute.

They’re upscale grilled-cheese; the combos will include “aged gruyere on wheat with wild mushroom soup,” he says, or “goat cheese and mint with carrot ginger soup.” With each visit, you’ll be asked if you’d like to round up your purchase price to the nearest dollar, with the difference donated to a charity dedicated to fighting world hunger.

It sure sounds—unusual. But if the industry has learned anything from the dearly departed Flip, it’s that it’s not wise to bet against Jonathan Kaplan.

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2 responses to “Read All About It!

  1. Curious what it would be like to wear the fish-flops at the beach 😉

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