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Stunted By Reality Just another know-it-all talking about life, business, technology, sports and music.

31May/12Off

I quite fancy TheFancy.com

I've just seen a review on Venturebeat about a photo sharing and discovery website called Fancy. It's sort of like Pinterest but with the inbuilt ability to purchase items in the picture or book hotels and flights to the places depicted. The nugget is that it all seems to have been done in a non-intrusive way which still puts the user experience first and the commerce distinctly in the background.

For some reason the author of the Venturebeat article doesn't like this and he thinks they should have done the classic start-up move of concentrating on the users and finding a business model later. To be honest I never believe it when start-ups like Twitter et al pull this move. To me it just means that either they've got a cool but useless technology which no one will pay to use or that they will put ads on their app, but only after fooling 10 million people that they won't ever pimp them to the highest bidder.

Fancy haven't done anything new but they've obviously looked at similar apps and wondered if it all could have been done better. That's something which I've mentioned on this blog as one of the hallmarks of a solid business idea. I personally don't really use photo discovery apps apart from the odd time I stumble onto a great Flickr stream which I'll fully explore. But if I did I wouldn't mind if Fancy offered me the option to buy the stuff in the photo in a very discreet way that doesn't take away from the experience. I'm not talking Google text ads here people!

I think they may be onto something which Facebook, Google and Flickr would love to have done. Now look out for the Fancy guys to pimp themselves to one of those companies and get a decent bag of money for their start-up; which is entirely fine by me as long as they don't pimp me around. Check them out.

Source Venturebeat

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6Oct/11Off

If you have a great idea someone has already thought of it

The Big Idea - Light Bulb & Socket

Now that's a bright idea!

I'm always coming up with business ideas based on my own experiences and needs. One of the best I've had recently was a phone application to document the things that my kids say and do. Actually it's third best idea I've had recently.

The idea is to be able to compile a document or repository of the funny, weird and wonderful things that my (our ) children say, because they do say a lot of funny stuff. I already take a lot of pictures and video of them but sometimes I just want to note down a quote that I found funny. My solution was to build an application that allows you to store little things like that; notes, pictures etc. and you would be able at a future date to have it all published into a book. Perhaps even an annual about your kids.

I think it's a great idea, and one that I don't even need to ask what your opinion is because frankly anything to do with kids is going to sell. The hard bit would be the marketing but that's the case in any business. However, women are probably the best demography to market because they talk so much. If one gets to like something, best believe that the whole world is going to hear about. Plus most women don't really shop around. I've always said that if I sold cars I'd sell only pink hatchbacks! Anyway, the idea is also great because lets face it, which parent doesn't think that their kids are the funniest and cutest, despite us constantly observing at first hand other seemingly deluded parents?

So I got round to checking the idea, as I normally do with all my ideas. No matter how good your idea is always check that no one has yet done it. I've said before on this blog that a good idea either solves a problem, or copies another good idea well, or exploits lack of market knowledge or serves a neglected market.

All those factors mean that if you have had a good idea then someone has already done it; if it's a great idea then ten people are already doing it. If no one is doing it you have to ask yourself why.

So after Googling my idea, I found that someone has already done it. Not only that, but they have done it in almost exactly the way I envisioned it. I'm not really upset though, but just impressed with the other guys execution. My fan-boy brother is away so I don't have an iPhone to test their app, but it looks good. And one thing I believe is that if I can't do something better than the other guys then there's no point doing it. Take a bow Kid's Quip Journal.

*Okay I have to admit I could have come up with a better name than that, but touché!

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13Jan/10Off

Starting a business without an idea. Dumb.

So I’m reading Venturebeat, which is one of my favorite blogs, and they have a Q & A with a guy called Adam D’Angelo. D’Angelo used to be the Chief Technology Officer of Facebook, their first in fact. He left some time ago and has now started a new venture called Quora. A  cross between Wikipedia and  Yahoo Answers. It’s a question-and-answer site with very refined incentives to get people to share specialist knowledge.

Reading the interview what stood out for me is his answer to the question “Is this what you knew you wanted to do when you left Facebook?”

D’Angelo says “I knew I wanted to start a company and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. And after several ideas, I thought that this one was the one with the most potential.”

What struck me from that statement is that it sounds like D’Angelo wanted to start a business…., didn’t have a specific thing in mind…., came up with several ideas…. and settled on this one. I don’t know, but this really doesn’t sound like the way great concepts are born.

I mean, say you’re in that looking-for-an-idea zone, and it’s been a few weeks and nothing has really come up. What do you do? Do you go back to something you thought about some time ago and add a twist to it? Do you scratch your head harder so that as that bit of dandruff falls it may just dislodge a couple of brain cells that were in the way of a great idea? Then Eureka!

"I'm taking this to the Dragon's Den. Reggae Reggae sauce has nothing on this!"

Call me old fasioned, but I believe great businesses offer services that solve a particular problem. I believe good companies are built from one of the following, though this is not an exhaustive list;

  • an idea that came about because someone encountered a problem.
  • a copy of a great idea that came about because someone had a problem. AKA a copy cat business. Even the most visionary people have at some point thought about doing something that been done a million times before. That tech company called Apple comes to mind.
  • an opportunity to exploit a market’s lack of knowledge. For example, buying cheap electronics in one city and selling them in another.
  • an opportunity to go into an under-served market. Your typical bricks and mortar businesses do this most of the time.

In any case, I don’t think most of the above come about because someone some sat down and wondered what to do! It’s like the lotto winner who sits down to think how they are going to multiply their earnings by going into business. I can’t think any significant money will be made that way, if any.

Still good luck to Quora. It seems that, without a solid problem to tackle, they need it.

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