Ideas? What are they worth?
By Joseph Rueter
I’ve had an opportunity to be in conversations with a number of large company incubators in recent months. Those conversations provoked me to be thinking about large scale opportunities. What might be build-able with the resrouces of a large company these days? So, I started sketching.
I’ve also had a number of conversations with my network and thoughts about businesses that could exist differently than I am aware they do today or that will likely exist in the future. Some of them are undoubtably crazy sounding, maybe even actually crazy. Others, might be obvious, etc. I thought I’d take a swing a sharing a few of their short pitches and post ‘em with the intention that it provokes conversations among my network. If others, those I don’t yet know (is that you?) or have not yet talked to about these, would like to jump into the conversation. Please, by all means, reach out. Looking forward to it.
Oh, and I'm particularly provoked to share these semi-publicly (no tweets or social distribution from me) because of Thomas' public Evernote. Thanks Thomas! I'm not ready to give you all access to any part of my Evernote but maybe the day will come. I'll start here.
So, Ideas for the following are found below: Self-Driving Furniture, Services for Demand Economy Workers, Subscription Toys, A Content Company, Local Merchant Brand/Platform, An Ad Market for Online Markets, A Transit/Transaction Company for US goods to Asia, Better - A Threads Company, White Collar Time Sheets, Pods for Travel.
[HT to Simon on this one]
Opportunity: Corporations, schools and governments spend far more than they should or could on physical space. More commonly, they need more space for employees, students and the community but find it difficult to justify the expense.
Short Pitch: In the future, furniture will rearrange it’s self at the touch of buttons. Square footage will be more utilized. Cubical clusters will become conference rooms upon a simple command, gymnasiums will become mathematics rooms and architects will always add or include "furniture garages" in their plans. Space will be abundant.
Services for Demand Economy Workers
Opportunity: Marketplace services (e.g. Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit) are creating demand for people to fill flexible time-shifted jobs on demand. Small businesses are being built upon these platforms (e.g. a team with multiple cars and drivers for Uber or an investor with multiple properties for Airbnb using TaskRabbit to fulfill cleaning needs). The workers love the flexibility and often the pay but are not afforded the typical support services of a full time job.
Short Pitch: The number of workers in these positions are quite large and accelerating at alarming rates. In the (very near) future, their numbers will be big enough to create insurable pools for car and health insurance, etc.
Opportunity: Toys are expensive, take up space and typically have a child’s attention span for a very short time (weeks).
Short Pitch: Like AirBnb is for a place to stay, and Uber is for rides; in the future, toys will be wildly sanitary and easily rentable. Who buys much of anything anymore? Rent it.
A Content Company
[ala: Red Bull / Houzz / Pintrest / Goop]
Opportunity: Content verticals are showing promise. Sites like Houzz (for home improvement et. al.) have moved to care for a whole decision making process for end users and to make money on just one part of it. In doing so they’ve grown in substantial audience, impact and value. Brands like Red Bull are more media companies now than product companies. What does Red Bull sell again?
Short Pitch: In the future, there will be a content company for the enthusiastic design inspired shopper with a focus on the home that is about humans and their stories before the objects being sold. Like Red Bull has recording studios for musicians and networks of extreme folks leaping from airplanes, a brand will rise to the occasion for their customers to create the content they are inclined to create (to tell their story and to travel the world as families of 7, or more, etc.). And on and on.
Local Merchant Brand/Platform
[HT to Steve L. for provoking thoughts on this one]
Opportunity: As customers become more connected across cities and countries by way of the internet and/or relocation; their desires for the “local” product of another area/ increases. Local suppliers typically focus on production. Distribution, marketing and growing sales are not commonly their core daily functions. As a result, they miss those sales.
Short Pitch: In the future, It’ll be easy to list your goods on a national network of brands. It'll also be easy buy the best honey from a small brand in a city you used to live in or the one you just visited. It’ll be easy to send care packages to college students filled with the heartwarming local products of their home town, etc. It’ll be easy to buy from "locals" regardless of where you are physically.
An Ad Market for Online Markets
Opportunity: Where small suppliers and makers of goods struggled to get products listed for sale online they now struggle to get enough people to find their products on the marketplaces in order to buy them.
Short Pitch: In the future, the data driven online marketing tactics of the largest corporations will be easily “rentable” to the smallest of suppliers of unique goods. Sales will increase.
A Transit/Transaction Company for US goods to Asia
Opportunity: China might manufacture much of the worlds goods but Chinese overwhelmingly don’t want to purchase Chinese made products, even luxury goods. It’s better to have an Audi made in Osnabrück, Germany than the same model made in Changchun, China. They pay more for German ones too. In South Korea there is a rising tide of purchasing goods in the US and shipping them for a total cost noticeably lower than acquiring it in South Korea.
Short Pitch: In the future, global commerce will be easier than it is now because companies will build the necessary components to smoothing the transactions. Products will be more globally available, currencies will be easier to convert among the credit networks and global shipping and customs will all be “uber-ed.”
Better - A Threads Company
Opportunity: You deserve better than a crotch-shot. A better education. Better relationships. Better - A Pants Company.
Short Pitch: In the future, new brands of basic and awesome threads will be easily available in your home if you’re a woman or a dude. Clothes are easier to buy when they just show up at your house and you can ship back what you don’t want with ease. Currently, services like this are only available for high-end designer threads. There is an opportunity to make great (but owned) brands with quality goods available in homes.
White Collar Time Sheets
[HT to Tim B. for provoking this one]
Opportunity: Consultants, lawyers, agencies and the like are typically salary based individually but are required to “bill” their hours to clients. Many of them find time-sheets to be a form of lying, at best. However, government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley require compliance.
Short Pitch: In the future, smart timesheet software will make reporting not only automatically complaint but super easy. It’ll be more like approval process that could easily take 3 minutes or less per week. Reports will sync with individual workers calendars and the location of their mobile phones as well as their colleagues. Intelligent summaries will be created from behavior (e.g. time spent at work locations and the time spent in meetings with project team members and clients). Summaries will be sent for simple editing and submission by individual employees. Viola. Accuracy from data delivered in a proactive way will deliver value to busy and highly paid workers.
Pods for Travel
[Ok, now for a bit of a crazy one.]
Opportunity: The vast majority of travelers have distain for the process of going to and from the airport, standing in lines and sitting next to strangers. Just ask the person you sit next to next time, “Do you like sitting by strangers”?
Short Pitch: In the future, travel pods will arrive at your home or place of work, you’ll get in side and enjoy your personal space and entertainment. Upon arrival at your destination you’ll exit refreshed and ready for your itinerary… at your final destination (not the airport or train station or taxi stand).
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Note: Opportunities in corner lot beer and/or salad brands, medical records and communication (that don’t make you wish we were still using paper), etc. are also in development. Reach out of you’re interested in talking about any of those
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