Happy 2021! One of my (many) strange hobbies is to keep a list of ideas I would like to explore one day. Each year this list gets larger and my availablity gets smaller. This is why I want to share these ideas with you, hoping someone will find this inspiring and decide to create a company around it this year.
Netflix for Podcasts
I’m a huge fan of podcasts. I’m currently spending an average of ~1.5 hours a day listening to podcasts. While there are lots of podcast apps, there is no one good source to recommend podcasts to listen to. Unlike movies or music, podcast episodes are not always sequential. For example, Joe Rogan may interview someone about bitcoin and in the next episode someone else about UFC. Following a person/podcast does not always make sense and sometimes you just want to follow a topic. Like some bands with only one good song, a podcast can have only one specific episode that is relevant to you. I wish I could find a place that recommends episodes not just podcasts that are relevant to my specific taste. How? ML can be a good option. I will index all the podcasts out there (transcribe and vectorize the text) and from there try to group them based on similar interest. Also, looking at how people rate podcasts can help with this (people who loved X usually loved Y). It can be a massive capital investment upfront to transcribe all (or the most popular) podcasts, but once you have this in a text format you can monetize it later in different ways.
Stripe for NFC
NFC has entered our life more than ever after COVID-19. Touch-less payments are becoming the norm. Apple and Google pay work using NFC technology that allows your phone to communicate with the payment terminal. This is only one use-case of NFC. There is also a new proposal to get the NFC standard in browser as well. There can be so many more use cases: locking doors, activating devices, controlling passwords, unlocking cars, and much more. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between the hardware and software sides. And in order for NFC product to work well, developers need to have both. It’s hard to develop an NFC product end-to-end: you need to manufacture your hardware, write custom software to integrate with the NFC protocol, and then implement it on IOS, Android, and soon browsers. There is a room for NFC-as-a-service where you define your API and get a ready to install chip to start building your product.
Secret for voice
I worked at Facebook and I know the power of communities. I also understand the need for anonymity. Nowadays where everyone focuses on visual aspects (TickTock, Instagram, etc..) there is a place for bringing back voice chats for deep, meaningful conversations. When COVID-19 forces people to shelter in place, there arises a need to talk to someone about anything you’re passionate about. These conversations can be anything from politics to personal stress and relationships. Having an anonymous platform to meet and talk with people about a specific topic can be an interchange between Reddit and Podcasts. The anonymity will allow people to open up to meaningful conversations and the voice-only will prevent bad actors from exposing you stuff you don’t want to see (chat-roulette?). You don’t need to look good to talk with someone, all you need to care about is the content of your conversation. You can add a rating system to bubble up the best people so it will create an incentive for meaningful conversations and will bad the bad actors. You can also choose if you want to save this person as anonymous contact in order to chat more in the future.
Remote is becoming the new norm. The tools for remote are anything from communication (Slack, Zoom..), to project tracking to file sharing and documentations. There is a need for an opinionated remote-first tool that aggregates everything in one place. Instead of subscribing and paying to many SaaS services, I would love to have one place that has all the needed aspects for managing a remote company. Anything from tracking projects, to chatting and calling co-workers to all-hands and happy hours. I love Ruby on Rails because it is so opinionated and I believe there is a place for an opinionated way to run a remote-first business. It will not work for everyone, but for the companies who choose to adopt this methodology, the tools will be perfectly integrated with the day-to-day execution.
As someone who likes to read a lot of books, I am in dire need of a better GoodReads. Similar to Netflix for Podcasts, I would love to have Netflix for books with a social element to it.
Delivery service for Craigslist
You want to buy a sofa on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace? Now you need to find how to deliver it. I wish there will be a built-in service that takes care of shipping the item. For smaller packages, you can simply use UPS/FedEx but there is a pain for larger items. This service can piggyback on the marketplace as PayPal did to eBay.
AI for traffic lights
How many times have you stopped at a red-light and the road was empty? Come on, just install a smart camera that analyzes the cars around it and control the traffic better. It can be as part of a bigger “smart city” initiative but that’s a good start.
Headspace for work
I want an app on my laptop that reminds me to take a break. I want it to connect to my busy calendar and suggest times for meditation, maybe a motivational speech before a meeting, etc. I have some on my phone but I want it to be active as part of my working day and not only when I wake up or before I go to sleep. It can have an enterprise play, where companies purchase a subscription for their employees as part of a wellbeing investment.
Guided city bus tours
I live in NYC where you can find those big tourist buses that drive people around and tell them about the city. This usually costs $50. I will pay $5 for an app that I can download and tells me about the city while I take a $2.75 public bus. The routes are usually the same and I would rather like to have the recording in my headphones vs the crappy megaphone. The app will record your GPS location and will tell you about where you are based on your location. Can be for walking as well as for driving.
I love tracking my finances. I mostly use Mint for it. If you ever used mint.com you probably know why there is a need for something better. The UI is from the 90s, they always try to upsell you credit cards and there are not insightful suggestions. There are many new apps that try to do it today but it’s usually part of a new bank/card initiative. There is an opportunity for better tracking and analyzing tool who can give you insights on your budget and how to be more efficient.
Mortgage over blockchain
Ever tried to get a mortgage? The process is painful. First, you need to disclose your privacy and credit score, fill out tons of paperwork, and pay crazy initiation fees. Smart contracts can do it with one click. Since blockchain records your previous transactions, your credit is determined based on your loan history and not other mambo-jumbo factors. Also, your credit is anonymous so people can loan money to you based on your credit alone. There is no need for lengthy documentation as all the logic will be part of the smart-contract code. Anything from transferring money to recording payments can be done in one place (making bankers, lawyers and their fees unnecessary). There is an opportunity to set up a company that takes care of the legality aspects. Combine that with a marketplace where people can lend to others (LendingClub style) simply based on their past blockchain credit.
Just do it
Are you interested in one of these ideas? Let me know, or better, ship it!