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37 ideas from a Mediocre Entrepreneur

June 14, 2013 7 Comments

andI’m terrible at making $1 million, but I’m awesome at making $1000.

I strive for 10 ideas per day, which means most of these will be really bad. By bad, I fully acknowledge that many of my ideas will smell like the south end of a northbound mule.

But, my hope is that some of them will be good. These are original ideas, and I fully realize many of them have probably been done before, but these are things that I knew/know nothing about. Maybe you’re doing one of these now? Cool.

Maybe we’re alike. I’ve had thousands of ideas that I occasionally see bear fruit for other people (ouch). At least it’s documented, and I’ll continue to throw my ideas in a page that probably nobody will visit, but you know – whatever. In grad school, I was always the pitch man for every mock business presentation and case study, and some of my ideas outright pissed people off, which I always took as progress.

If you do one of these and make a billion dollars, please hook me up with a steak dinner and a pint of Guinness. Thanks, mate.

1. Results only web design.

Create a web design company that does all the crappy work: upload, registration, social stuff, analytics. Charge a fee for the site, but then charge a fee for building traffic, blogging, SEO, etc. No traffic? No pay. No followers? No pay. This way, you get to say, “dude, your idea sucks and here’s why.” It becomes a de facto consultancy that doesn’t allow people to keep creating bad websites — unless, of course, that’s the goal.

2. Create a company that leases drones to private citizens.

I would be happy to lease A Drone Named Steve to private citizens in order to airdrop happiness throughout America. But, seriously, we need a drone to find the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which is a good enough reason to get one.

3. Rent your tools in local neighborhood online.

All the online tool rental depots don’t work. I’ve never received a single call. Create a hyper niche website (clarendonvatoolrental.com), build the shopping cart for your higher end stuff that people don’t really want to buy, but could still use. Surprise people by actually caring about their project. You’ll make $1000 easy.

4. Life Simulator.

Similar to life coaching, but much more intensive. When you enter the life simulator, there is no getting out until you stop sucking. Reach your simulated goals or die. In the Life Simulator, you might get beat up, which tends not to happen in what we call “real life.”

5. Simunitions Facility

Lets you rob banks, take hostages, or counter all of that janx. Ultimate game between good and evil — 1st person shooter on steroids with bruises, hurt feelings, and potential lawsuits.

6. Make DC Metro suck much less.

Transit card system that works, so that I don’t have to get pissed off everytime I use it.

7. List on CL and Ebay side-by-side.

Provide analytics data to track performance. Does Craigslist have analytics?

8. Heat map for free shit.

Correlation between income, age, education, demographic and amount of good free shit? There’s got to be a predictor of where the best free shit is going to show up.

9. App for live flea markets to find the right item at the right table

Easy day. Looking for something in the pile of crap?

10. Free shit database.

Similar to the Free Shit Heatmap, but the database could be sold to creative people who want to use it in different ways that I can’t anticipate.

11. Project kit for making cool lamp w/ instructions.

Learn the basics of wiring a lamp + socket + switch all in one box. Could be a cool project for fathers to do with their kids. Provide all the materials plus instructions. You get a lamp that works, knowledge, and a fun experience.

12. Voluntary debt prison.

Space for debtors to live with minimal requirements while they go through the accelerator. Prisoners contract a sentence (which they may break at any time) of austerity in exchange for full pardon on debt.

13. Live auction for debt.

Similar to old school exchanges, where an auctioneer settles accounts in exchange for restructured cash flow or even non-monetary offset packages. Infinite amount of restructuring is possible.

14. Pedicabs in Arlington, VA.

With pony kegs. Pedicabs & Ponikegs. Do I really need to explain this?

15. Speed dating for micro loans.

Collect a fee for investors and entrepreneurs. Given 4 minutes to pitch, follow up, and basically find the right match. Investors may invest $25 or full amount requested. Everything tracked through social media.

16. Coast Guard’s travel claim software.

Fix it. Please.

17. Find a loophole in the student loan repayment crisis — exploit it.

Create a sort of “loan refugee camp.” Use the cheap, educated labor to alter the course of history (farming, energy development, mechanical turk tasking, etc). Develop a labor pool where the employer pays the total of the loan + monthly stipend. This is basically indentured servitude, but why hide it? That’s what student loan debt is – except that now you’re still on the hook for the debt without the promise of actually buying down your freedom.

18. Invent the BikeBus.

This is a larger machine (maybe 10-15 stations) that is all weather. BikeBus makes stops for commuters on a scheduled route and is paid just like any other transit system except. (This apparently has already been done.) Is there a better way of doing it? Can you make money doing this? This is also cool.

19. Fuse three trends:

drones + micro loans + 3D printing = micro loans for 3D printed drones; OR drones that deliver micro loans to 3D printers; OR 3D printing drones that provide micro loans

20. Human hair oil boom??

What else can you do with human hair to make money? Can you make human hair into rocket fuel?

21. Human Hair compost/recycling facility.

We’ll give you money for your hair (income stream for barbers or anybody else – 200,000 lbs of hair dumped into landfills!) then sell the compost. Holy Shit.

22. How can you monetize bottle caps?

Could you derive energy or food from bottle caps? What could you make with bottle caps that people would buy? Travel game (invent the game) with color separated bottle caps. Make a machine that recognizes the color (easy); run a script that opens a door based on primary color category that dumps into a bin (harder); my game uses equal parts light and dark pieces (match green with white, etc). Steps include: 1. Invent a really cool game (moderately difficult; could crowdsource?) 2. Test the game on wide audience (target consumer) 3. Invent the sorting machine (arduino + 3D printed parts?) – could do this manually in the beginning 4. Develop process to collect the caps (pay per cap? incentivize an income stream to pick this shit up) 5. Sorting facility 6. Sanitize the caps 7. Make gameboard? 8. Package. 9. Distribute

23. Teach birds to collect bottle caps and bring them to a centralized facility.

They get a reward (food) or nest material (human hair).

24. Bottle cap bingo?

Toy gun that shoots these bottle caps? Is this two separate ideas?

25. What do we pay to get rid of?

Trash. I want to get paid for my trash. Cash for Trash. How about blind auctions on trash bins sort of like those stupid reality TV shows where they bid on storage lockers then see how much they can get for the stuff inside.

26. Fuse three trends:

Custowners + Upcycling + Global Warming = Customers are the creators of upcycled designs judged to most effectively combat global warming. The group votes on most promising design/idea, monetizes the concept, then shares the return on investment. Customers buy equity at $100 entry to fund a group of SmartyPants (like a Makerspace?) that take a service or product all the way to market.

27. Organic Burial.

Plat marginalized land for organic burial which is not environmentally toxic. Make it a type of wildlife preserve and charge $10,000 per pre-purchased burial now. $30,000 at the door. Buy now and save.

28. Combine 3 trends:

Backyard Chickens + 3D printing + Shitty Weather = 3D printed chicken coop designed to withstand hurricanes.

29. Combine 3 trends:

Backyard Chickens + Food Trucks + Mobile Apps = Backyard flock tenders monetize their eggs by selling low volumes to a food truck. Mobile app acts as the gateway to open distribution network.

30. Create a certification course for Microsoft Excel

Everybody wants to be certified in something because we’re in due diligence and verification mode. If you attend and pass our course, you’ll be certified in Spreadsheets and Data Analysis. Of course, there are different levels. Graduates of our course yield higher paychecks and get a cool certificate.

31. Forest Fire Fighting tourism.

You’ve heard of eco tourists and agricultural tourism? This allows people to live out their fantasy of being in a forest fire and paying for it. People love to experience manual labor jobs that once had to filled by slaves. They’d rather do that for 10 days then sit in a box.

32. Write a book:

1000 Ways to make $1000. Charge $1000. If you sell one book, just sit back and marvel at the irony.

33. Fuse 3 trends:

Experience Economy + Minimalism + Exotic Coffee = Experience the joy of harvesting your own shade grown coffee, milling it, then engaging in group meditation. Or, experience the best coffee in the world at the source during an extended backpacking and harvesting trip.

34. Buy and island

and establish a health care facility that focuses on health care. You’re not leaving until you’re healthy. There is no way for you to get stuck in traffic, eat shitty food, or argue with anybody. This would make $1B in the first 18 months when people figure out they’re not supposed to be overweight, chronically inflamed, and mildly pissed off all the time.

35. Invent the Asshole Meter

Develop software that listens to your tone, inflection, and overall commentary then grades you on the Asshole Scale (like a Geiger Counter). If you’re being an asshole, it will gently buzz until you cordially unfuck yourself. The device will automatically capture data for your review, so you can see trends over time. If your employees pitch in to buy you one and it anonymously shows up on your desk, it means that you are an asshole, but they believe there is still hope for you. Check yourself. If this really worked, I would buy it for $100.

36. Virtual Lucky Bag

Opposite of woot.com. Start with $1000 and accept offers of trade. The best offer will get the $1000 in exchange for “whatever” item. The next item goes up on live auction for trade. The best offer cycles, then cycles, then cycles. This is the paperclip story on the internet. Eventually you reach items of substantial value (homes, boats, etc.)

37. BarterTron: Reverse Ebay

Instead of having a billion items for sale (Walmart) with a billion people bidding, you have one thing up for “sale” or barter or whatever. Give it a countdown clock (QVC style), but instead of having 1000 of that same item, you just have one. It could be cash, a crossbow, or a crossfit membership. But once the clock strikes zero, there will be a decision on the submissions. There MUST be a selection on what’s available. That means, if you had one submission (say, a pile of dogshit) for a $1000 swap, then somebody just got $1000 for the swap.

-pat

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My goals in life are to not have a job and to work my ass off. I give your choice of virtual high five, cyber hug, or electronic fist bump for meaningful interaction.

Comments (7)

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  1. Moses says:

    That tool renting idea is amazing. I’ve always wondered why a lot of people I know stockpile tools they barely ever use, and only few projects require them. The stores charge way too much.

    I’ve always wanted to buy one of those inactive fixed oil platforms in the gulf and turn it into a resort. Think of the crowd – fishermen, general sportsmen (GOLF), tourists, adventure-seekers, cruise ships, you name it. It’s already been slightly done with Frying Pan Shoals, but they’re doing a terrible job.

    Great post. I love it when people reveal all ideas from brainstorm sessions, it makes me feel like I’m not the only one with random money-making ideas going through my head.

    • Patrick says:

      Hey there Moses!

      Yeah, the tool renting is a trend of “crowd owned” that make a lot of sense. Most households don’t think of themselves as a business enterprise, but modern economics pretty much dictates that we should do the same level of analysis.

      Expensive tools sitting in your garage represents tremendous idle capacity. I had a visitor from Venezuela recently who marveled at all the tools for one person, and marveled at the fact that they weren’t stolen.

      It’s because everybody around me has the same or similar set of tools. Which, of course, is stupid. With even a modest sense of cooperation, we could probably eliminate 50% of this waste capacity in the coming years. It’s simply not necessary. As households start to crunch, people still want to make and fix things, but don’t want the hassle of ownership.

      Younger people get this because they are significantly more frugal out of necessity. Rental will go through the roof in the coming years I believe. I think if you can get it micro enough (say, down to the subregion or neighborhood level), you could be first in your particular market. As tool owners move or die, new toolless households will likely just use your source. Even if you could simply coordinate a “tool co-op” or tool library, you’d still likely benefit.

      This is my thinking. If you want help with any of YOUR ideas, PLEASE let me know. I love creating opportunity or connecting you with somebody who might be able to help.

  2. cj says:

    Effing incredibly hilarious and creative, Patrick!!! The Asshole Meter is a must. I wasted way too much on assholes that on the surface seemed like really cool, fun people. I need to know right away, which of course, I am improving at with age, but really, I haven’t the time for the assholes.

    This list, which I cannot believe you went up to 37, is much like the bits of paper I pull outta my pocket on Sunday nights. We sit and talk shit all day Sunday and much of Saturday and write down every freakin’ stupid idea we say. For every 89 asinine ideas, there is always one good one, and that is more than enough.

    Have a blaster of a weekend!!!

  3. Jack says:

    Great brainstorming! 32 & 35 are my favorites. Am writing a book and have been wondering what the price tag should be. Now I have a clearer idea. But maybe I need the asshole meter for myself if I charge $1,000.

    Seriously though, trying to get people to think outside the box is a real challenge. I’ve been totally amazed over the years what people will pay for. When I was a kid I picked flowering weeds from a field across the street from where I sold them. People gave me money and even asked how to grow them! I was grateful they didn’t just turn around and look for themselves. Was a real life lesson for me.

    People don’t realize just how much of a gift they have between their ears when they learn to question and think for themselves. Your blog is a great example.

  4. Suz62 says:

    Pat – So many great ideas – some a little crazier than others, but still you’ve got the wheels turning! I think a really great idea (and very much needed idea!!!) would be a line of children’s books relating to money and saving. Seriously. It’s not taught in schools, and most parents don’t bother – either because they just don’t think about it or don’t know how. OK, you know the Berenstain Bears books (I KNOW you do, with 2 little girls!!) – something along these lines……..Marcus the Monkey and Money! In the world today, if kids don’t learn early how to save and manage money, they are going to be in SERIOUS trouble down the road. I have nieces and nephews (all under 10) who I am teaching money ideas/skills to. They already get so much of it, and they each have their own Savings book at the bank! I guess I don’t know if anyone else has hit on this topic for kids – but I’m not sure you can teach them enough out money!

    • Patrick says:

      That’s so funny. I was just thinking about this earlier today. What an idea! I wonder how something like that would fly?

      But, you’re right. My older daughter is 5 now, and definitely is interested in learning about money. She sees us selling stuff all the time, and she goes on our little jaunts to the “ATM” at the dumpster. She gets it because it’s cash that comes in and sits on the table.

      It’s a good idea. I’ll have to think it over.

      BTW, my wife and I have borrowed some of your language from your original comment here. I often get emails like this from my wife now, “Cha-Ching! What a hoot!.” Love it.

      Take care….

      pat

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