Give Your Good Ideas Away

Give Your Good Ideas Away

I’m a strong believer that when it comes to start-ups, ideas are cheap. Because the people with the gumption to turn the idea into something real are few and far between. I simply don’t believe a business idea on its own is worth very much.

That’s why I’m always sceptical when people ask me to sign an NDA before they’ll tell me their idea. What do they think I am I going to do with it? Find a team and build a business myself faster than they can? Sell the idea to the hungry crowd of waiting investors who will drop millions on the strength of a few words? Anyone who has witnessed the reality of getting a new start-up off the ground will know that the idea is a small part of the recipe for a successful business. Important, but in itself, inconsequential.

I wish this were not the case. Because I am full of ideas. If I could sell each good one (where I determine what is ‘good’) for a few quid I would be a wealthy man indeed. But sadly that is just not the way business works.

So instead I have decided to give my ideas away. They are yours, freely released under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. In other words: use them, mix and mash them up, make millions if you can. All I ask is that if you do, you give me the credit for being the originator.

Here are the first two, the second of which just came to me over lunch with a fellow (and soon to be very successful) entrepreneur. If they already exist, forgive me. I am not omniscient and it is too time consuming pretending to be so.

Social Seller App

There are lots of ways to sell online. From eBay, Gumtree and Craig’s List to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Just like managing lots of social networks takes time, so does trying to list and sell items across these various networks.

Wouldn’t it be great it there was a Buffer-style app for listing goods across multiple social networks? One that handled the hosting of pics, the collection of payments (on those platforms where this was not integrated), communication with buyers, and the withdrawal of items from all networks once it had sold on one.

You could even use it to schedule items across different platforms to get maximum returns: e.g. “try auctioning this on eBay but if it doesn’t hit its reserve, withdraw it and put in on across these platforms at a fixed price.” Wouldn’t that be useful?

The app could make money through fees on transactions, advertising on the hosted image pages, and subscriptions for pro level users at a variety of tiers.

Personalised Shopping Mag

Discovery is ugly in eCommerce. It’s great when you know what you want, but there’s no good equivalent of the idle browse of a bookshop or record shop that leads you to unexpected purchases. I do get some geeky pleasure browsing cars or electronic components on eBay, but this is not the niche on which multi-billion dollar businesses are made.

Flipboard has made browsing social networks a much more pleasant experience by turning them into an interactive magazine. Couldn’t someone do the same for online shopping? Take feeds of people’s favourite sorts of item and package them up with pictures and reviews into a personalised shopping magazine/catalogue?

The business model — affiliate fees — is simple and probably lucrative. And the technology isn’t that complex, it just needs a good design job.

Come on someone: I want this product.

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This article is by Tom Cheesewright. This post forms part of the Future of Business series. For more posts on this subject, visit the Future of Business page.

Tom Cheesewright

Futurist speaker Tom Cheesewright is one of the UK's leading commentators on technology and tomorrow. Tom has worked with a huge range of organisations across a variety of markets, to help them to see a clear vision of tomorrow, share that vision and respond with agility. Tom draws on his experience to create original, compelling talks that are keyed to the experience of the audience but which surprise and shock with unexpected facts and examples.

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