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.
Surprisingly, she got the idea almost instantly.
“Is this kind of like the new Amazon store?” she said, after I started babbling about iBeacons, and the Physical Web, and bluetooth connectivity, and...
After a brief demo, Amanda was in.
"Sounds fun," she said. "Just check with the manager, Christine, when she gets in tomorrow."