I come up with new business and product ideas everyday to push my creative limits and help you succeed. I call it The Idea Experiment. Enjoy.
1. Connected soil monitor
A small monitor placed in soil that would tell you when a plant needs to be watered. The hardware would be connected to an app on your phone. Using the app, you’d simply set the plant type then place the monitor in the soil. You’d get a push notification when it’s time for you to water your little green machines.
Update: there are a few solutions in the market, like this one.
I’d like to see the price get down to where you could buy a monitor for $5 or less so it would make sense for indoor potted plants. At over $100 and with an avg. Amazon rating of two stars, this option “leaves” a lot to be desired 😉
2. Pic to fit
The ability to hold up your smartphone’s camera and it tell you the exact dimensions of everything in its sight. Quickly and easily see if a piece of furniture will fit into a tight space or if those love handles are high and tight. You’ll finally be able to toss those antiquated, clunky tape measures in the trash.
3. At-home salivary stress tests
Inflammation is the core of all chronic disease. C-reactive protein is a biomarker of inflammation in the body. It can be tested using saliva tests.
I’d like to know how inflamed my body is every morning using an affordable saliva test I can take anywhere. Connected to an app, the device would tell me what I can do to quell existing inflammation or keep it in check based on its instant results (e.g. you need to take a nap, do meditation, drink water, take a cold shower, etc.).
Testing every morning, I’d start to understand how my behaviors affect my body; insanely powerful knowledge that leads to data-driven decisions.
4. Sunglasses with solar-powered fans
Tiny fans built into the temples (also called the arms) of a pair of sunglasses that are solar-powered. Feel as cool as you look.
5. Online support website
Psychologists/psychiatrists are incredibly expensive, which adds a layer of financial stress to members of our society who need far less. There should be a service that offers confidential email/SMS/Skype/telephone support by trained individuals to those in need for a reasonable monthly subscription (e.g. $199/mo). There are existing sites that do this fairly well. I think there’s room for many more.
6. Grocery tag-teaming
I’d like to belong to a grocery buying club. Once a month, I’d be responsible for buying and delivering everyone’s groceries. All other weeks, I’d have my groceries delivered to my door. #efficiencies
7. Do the opposite: a TV channel that only plays commercials
The station would only play the world’s best commercials, which can be hilarious and extremely creative. If you’re a marketer/advertiser, it would be constant material to study. The owner of this station would be filthy rich and it would be insanely easy to program.
8. A bacon emoji
There should be one. Also, there should be a peanut butter emoji; jelly emojis need not apply.
9. Fandom website
A website that enables raving fans of particular books/celebrities/movies/musicians, etc. to connect and interact. Sites like MuggleNet (Harry Potter) are huge hits. Don’t underestimate the power of groupies. Imagine if you owned the platform on which these communities operated.
10. Robotic essay grader
Just like Scantron grades multiple choice tests with ease, this would read and grade essays. You’d definitely be all the teachers’ pet if you invented this time-saving device. Students and their parents would appreciate that grades would be unbiased. The College Board (owner/publisher of the SAT) would buy this baby in a heartbeat.
11. Odor alerts
Nobody enjoys walking into a wall of unpleasant odor. Imagine a device that detects bathroom odor. If the odor is unpleasant, then a small light would turn red outside the bathroom’s entrance. If the winds are kind, the light would remain green. There’d need to be a slight grace period between when a person leaves the bathroom and when the light turns red or green so that the person leaving can escape without feeling guilty for doing “the deed.”
12. Medical matcher
You approach 15 reputable, qualified, local healthcare clinics. Each clinic pays $3,000 per month to be a part of your venture ($45,000/mo. total revenue). In exchange, each clinic gets a full profile on your website. You pay $30,000/mo. to run television, radio and online ads to direct traffic to your website that helps that traffic find qualified medical professionals based on their unique healthcare needs.
Patients find the care they need. Clinics receive qualified leads. You receive $15,000 in recurring monthly revenue.
This model can be duplicated for every large city and for numerous qualified professions. Game on!
13. Sunscreen is… crazy?
On a recent trip, I asked a friend, “In 100 years, what do you think we’ll look back on and say, ‘What were we thinking?!'”
Today, if we looked back nearly 67 years, you’d see advertisements with doctors recommending that their patients smoke tobacco.
I hope that in 100 years, we won’t look back and think anything we are doing today is as ludicrous as that.
But I’m not dumb enough to assume that will be the case.
One thing I think we are doing today that ‘might’ be unhealthy is slathering on sunscreen with reckless abandon.
We’re dousing ourselves with its chemicals every four hours like our lives depend on it. Who knows, maybe they do! Or, maybe they don’t. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a healthy conversation to have. At the very least, I’d recommend staying away from certain sunscreens that the Environmental Working Group classifies as being unhealthy. Click here to see that list.
14. Credit-checking dating app
A dating app that’s only for singles who have a minimum credit score of 650. #qualitycontrol
15. Video ideas
People learn in different ways and like to mentally “check-out” on Facebook. Maybe I should record a video of me reading my ideas in addition to writing them, in order to please more friends. I’m always up for an experiment.
Update: I’ve been doing this (watch the videos below). So far, so good – even despite low-quality video production.
16. Snapchat story shot clock
Snapchat stories should be capped to a max length, say 60 seconds or less. Leaving it uncapped doesn’t encourage users to prioritize content quality over quantity. Social media thrives on brevity. Take one from Twitter’s book here, Snapchat.
17. Imagine you’re an avatar
This is a brain hack I picked up from Jane McGonigal, a famous game designer who played games to recover from a serious concussion that threw her into severe depression, anxiety and confusion.
PSA: I’m not a gamer at all, so if I can do this, so can you.
Here’s the idea: imagine you’re creating an avatar that represents you in a video game.
What would be that avatar’s three strengths?
What would be its three weaknesses?
I like to picture my avatar’s traits represented as colorful bar charts, with strengths represented by nearly full bars and weaknesses represented by bars that are running on empty.
For example, today, I’d say my three strengths are creativity, empathy and technology.
My weaknesses? Organizing, keeping in touch with the people I love and work-life balance.
After you do this exercise, create a game you want to play with the goal of boosting at least one of your “weakness bars.”
Today, mine’s to call my mom and see how her week’s been. That’s it. A small goal to improve my avatar and give me a better shot at winning the game of life.
I know this sounds cheesy. But looking at yourself from a third-person perspective can help keep things in perspective. It’s also a fun way to not take yourself and life so seriously.
18. Affordable GPS chips
I’d like to be able to buy a sheet of GPS chips for a low price, say $5 per chip. I could then place a chip in or stick it to something I want to keep track of.
Ideally, each chip would be controlled/tracked by a smartphone app that I’d use to see the chips’ locations. I could have the option to setup a geofence around a certain location and get alerts when/if a chip breaches the barriers I setup.
This would be a great way to affordably track valuable packages, your wallet, a pet, children, an elderly patient with dementia, etc.
A site that has crowdsourced information about DJs. Think about it.
20. A smoke detector that listens
A smoke detector that would instantly turn off if you yelled, “I’m cooking!”
21. The skillet assistant
A sensor that would detect when food needs to be stirred or flipped in order to be cooked just right. The challenge here is that the device would need to be heat-tolerant enough as to not melt. It would also need to be intelligent enough to take into consideration the food type and quality (e.g. beef grades).
22. The hairbrush buddy
A hairbrush that has a reservoir in its head that could store liquid. When pressure is applied to the bristles, the liquid would be released. This liquid could be shampoo or conditioner if the device is used in the shower. The liquid could be water or hair gel if used in dry conditions.
23. Website concierges
Most websites are not designed to cater to a variety of website visitors. As a result, they have suboptimal conversion rates (e.g. the percentage of users who take a desired action).
This idea is to ask website visitors one or a few simple questions to qualify them. Then, based on their answers, the website routes the user to a particular location. This is Sales 101, but 99% of websites don’t do this and suffer as a result. I’m currently working on assisting clients with this goal right now.
24. Movie headrest closed captioning
Most movie theaters don’t offer closed captioning for the hearing impaired. The idea is to have a small group of seats in a movie theater for those who are hearing impaired. In front of each of these seats would be a glass monitor that comes up through the headrest of the seat in front of it. The closed captioning text would scroll through the glass monitor like a teleprompter. This would give movie theaters the ability to tap into a new market without disrupting the standard movie-watching experience for those who aren’t hearing-impaired.
25. Shrinking shoes
A pair of shoes that tightens when its wearer is inactive. When the wearer is active, it loosens, allowing them to be comfortable and remove the shoes if desired. This idea is controversial. It wouldn’t sell well because most sane people don’t like to subject themselves to pain. Still, it would be an effective way to make people aware of their activity levels and keep them moving 😉
26. Smart stoplights
Stoplights with cameras on them so that they could intelligently switch from green to red (and vice versa) depending on surrounding traffic and road conditions.
27. Premium insights
Sell highly coveted information to high-profile clients for a premium. I read that a friend of James Altucher is doing this exact thing. He has a few pharma/healthcare clients that pay him around $10,000 per month to access his intelligence report. He outsources the research for a cheap price (relatively speaking), then distills that information and presents it in a way that is digestible and usable by his clients.
28. Real social media
A social media site that encourages people to post content that accurately depicts their lives. This is a terrible idea from a business perspective. The motive for it is solid: to realize that most of what we see on social media are highlight reels of peoples’ lives. I’m going to try to be more vulnerable and transparent on social media to combat this. I hope you join me.
A good friend buys items for cheap at thrift stores like Goodwill, then marks them up and sells them on Ebay. He makes a decent side income doing it. One thing that frustrates him is that he knows he misses out on buying items because other people saw and bought them first. The idea here is to have him offer a “hauling” service. Once every month, he offers to pick up any items a homeowner no longer wants. This is a win-win. He saves the donor a trip to Goodwill and he gets first access to all the items he may or may not want to sell.
30. Flower pot vases
I have two potted plants in my apartment. I’d like to have a few small vases planted around the interior of each pot that I can use to put picked flowers in. The problem with this is that I would need to bury and unbury each vase into the soil in order to replenish them with fresh water. That’s not ideal. Instead, I’d like to have each small vase have a tiny hole in the bottom that would slowly drip water out into the soil of the potted plant. Then I would just fill up the vases once per week. A win-win for the potted plants and the picked flowers.
31. Audio and closed captioning smartphone app
A smartphone app that would play the audio and closed captioning for every major show that’s currently on television. I’d use this at gyms, restaurants, airports, doctors’ offices – you name it. The challenge: latency.
32. Mate matching
A website where you upload photos of people you find attractive. Using facial recognition, the site analyzes the uploaded photos. An algorithm then predicts what you’re physically attracted to. Using that algorithm, it selects a number of people who fit your taste and are single across multiple dating sites (Match, eHarmony, OKCupid, etc.).
Form a mastermind group.
Napoleon Hill wrote about the mastermind principle as: “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
I think of masterminds as scheduled brainstorm sessions.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I think that’s damn accurate. Forming a mastermind group of smart, driven people could be a powerful way to boost your average self 😉
34. Skill bartering
A website where people could purchase items/services using only one form of currency: their skills. A great atmosphere to test and hone your negotiation skills.
35. Lumpy mail
A direct marketing technique I learned from Sam Ovens that involves sending a piece of mail that contains a marketing message and a gift. By including the gift, the package becomes lumpy. Lumpy packages have to be placed on the top of other pieces of mail; otherwise, the other mail will slide off. Plus, everyone loves opening up packages. This virtually guarantees your mail will be opened and your message will be read. This works. I used a modified version of this technique to land an $11,000 project with a cold client.
36. Happy buying
Before buying any item, look at it and ask yourself, “Does this make me happy?” If your answer isn’t a resounding, “F yes!” don’t buy it.
If it is an “F Yes!” then you should consider buying it.
37. Just-in-time learning
Avoid learning for the sake of learning – that’s a sneaky way to feel productive when you’re actually wasting time. Believe me, I get sucked into this trap. Instead, try to learn when you can take what you learn and apply it to get closer to your desired goal.
38. Uber for golf caddies
A mobile app golfers use to schedule golf caddies anywhere, anytime. I ran a little venture with this business model during a summer in college. It was a blast and I made some beer money along the way. This was before the mass adoption of smartphones. With an app and some marketing dollars behind it, I think this venture could really succeed (provided golf clubs are open to it).
39. Netflix communities
Netflix should have forums for each of its hit shows, allowing fans to have fun analyzing episodes. Bonus: enabling fans to schedule watch parties.
A dating site that recommends singles based on their Netflix profile.
41. Pet happiness scans
An annual brain scan performed on a pet that vets can use to discover if a pet has mental illness. Based on the results, the vet can make informed lifestyle, diet, nutraceutical/pharmaceutical recommendations. Mental illness is incredibly complicated and current technology doesn’t suggest this is possible (that I’m aware of). A reach idea.
42. Stomach balloons
For those with ZERO self-discipline and willing to risk death to maintain that slender, sexy body of theirs! A pill with a balloon activated by stomach acid. The balloon inflates to make a person feel full.
43. Anonymous accountability partnerships
A website where people can sign up as anonymous users, then post their goal(s) and obstacle(s). Each user is then matched up with another user. You then use the website as a tool to anonymously share trials and tribulations and celebrate victories en route to overcoming your shared obstacle(s) and achieving your goal(s).
44. Eat as much as you want, as long as…
…you think about everything you eat.
A neat phrase I heard this week – neat because it grants total autonomy (a trait all diets lack). I find that when I do think about what I eat, I end up enjoying what I eat more, eat healthier and eat less of it.
45. Be vulnerable: Presidential “Never Have I Ever…”
There should be a presidential debate where the participants have to play the game Never Have I Ever… the entire time. The Internet would break.
46. Yelp for hookups
A website where people can rate hookups. This could be hilariously awful.
47. Dog matchmaker
A website where people could find “romantic” matches for their dog for the purpose of just going on “dates” or “something more” (i.e. breeding). 🙂
48. Tiny improvements
Each day, try to make a micro improvement. For example, I’m currently doing one more push-up every morning and evening. As of writing this post, I’ve been doing it for 21 days. I’ve enjoyed building a new, healthy habit. It’s fulfilling and it’s taught me the value of starting small and being persistent. Try it!
49. Gender-segregated gyms
Many women hate gyms because they feel like they’re being stared at by men. In many cases, they are. There should be dedicated workout areas for men and women. This likely exists but I’ve never seen it.
50. Daily digital detoxes
Don’t check email, text messages, social media, news websites, etc. until 11AM. This lets you control your day rather than allowing others to control you.
I have to admit, I struggle to follow through with this. My current schedule doesn’t make it easy. I’m trying to get better at this because I know it’s worth it (productivity goes up, stress levels go down).
51. Plan your day out the night before (4 minutes)
Open up your calendar before you go to bed. Write down a few things you want to get done the next day. Estimate the time it will take to do each of those things. Block time on your schedule to do those things.
52. 80% of humans live on less than $10 per day
Appreciate everything you have – it’s a lot, even if it doesn’t seem that way.
53. Money as “fun tickets”
Sometimes I feel like making money is a bad thing – like the more I make, the less someone else has. That’s self-defeating and isn’t rooted in truth. Making money is typically a sign that you’ve created value for others. Making more of it also gives you the ability to distribute it to people and causes who need it most. Plus, the more money you have, the more fun you can have. I like fun.
54. Don’t be “for everyone”
I’m constantly struggling with this. I want to be liked by and help everyone. The truth is that if I tried to do this, I wouldn’t be liked by anyone. I’d be forgettable. I’d change depending on what each person wanted. And most people want different things. My skill-set would end up being a mile wide and an inch deep – average across the board. I wouldn’t be the go-to guy for anything.
To avoid that, I’m striving to be hyper-specific. I’m trying to figure out exactly who I am, who I can help, what they need, what they’re afraid of and where they spend their resources (time, attention, money).
Similarly, I’m trying to pinpoint who I’m not speaking to.
It’s not easy.
So far, what I do know is that the more comfortable I’ve become with myself, and the more specific I get, the more my message resonates with others.
55. “You create opportunities by performing, not complaining.”
56. Trend-spotting: trending Netflix documentaries
Search through Netflix to see what’s trending. If a documentary is trending and it’s covering a topic you’re not familiar with, this might be the start of a trend that will become mainstream. Examples: Tiny (tiny house movement), GMO OMG (genetically modified organisms), Food Inc. etc.
57. Pain searching: Twitter advanced search
Use Twitter’s advanced search tool to search for phrases like, “I wish there was a…”, “I can’t stand it when…”, “What if there was a…”, “Imagine if there was a…”
58. Idea testing: ask for money up-front
Before you start building anything, ask if someone will pay for it. If they say yes, ask them to pay you now as an advanced payment. If they are willing to do that, then you have a good idea. If they start making excuses, your idea needs work.
59. Idea testing: Facebook ads to landing pages
Before you start building anything – and definitely before you launch anything – run a variety of Facebook ads to test different messaging (headlines, calls to action, etc.). Make those ads go to a landing page that pitches your idea. Ask the traffic to sign up to get on a waiting list for the idea you’re pursuing. If you don’t get many clicks and sign ups, the idea needs work.
60. Idea testing: poll the audience
Before you start building anything, poll Facebook. Boost your post to increase the odds of it being seen and getting responses. A few days ago, I invested $5 to boost a post on Tiny House Hunt’s Facebook page, asking people what they want. It received 32 comments, giving me great insight into what prospective customers might want and the language they use to describe their problems. This is money well spent. If someone wants “it all,” press them to get more specific.
61. Pain searching: customer reviews
Read ratings and reviews for something related to your idea. You’ll start to uncover opportunities.
If it’s a…
- Restaurant, search Zagat or Yelp
- Product, search Amazon
- App, search the Apple App Store or Google Play
- Software, search TrustRadius or G2Crowd
62. How to steal your competitor’s customers if you’re a web development company
Most websites have a “Designed by _______” link in their footer, indicating who designed/developed their site. Copy that phrase, then search it in quotes on Google so you get exact match results.
You’ll then have a list of the web development company’s clients. If the company doesn’t offer great service, their clients might be happy to use your services instead.
63. Community Facebook pages as a form of “native” advertising
Instead of building a company Facebook page, consider building a related lifestyle page that can be used by a company to cross-promote their brand.
For example, let’s say I run a company that sells coffee mugs, Coffee-holics Inc. I might consider starting a second Facebook page called I Friggin Love Coffee! On that page, I publish valuable content (entertaining, instructional, etc.) to build up a strong community of coffee lovers. I can occasionally (i.e. 1 out of 15 posts) cross-promote Coffee-holics to members of that community. An interesting marketing strategy because it recognizes people engage more with communities than with brands.
64. Brand/culture building: design wallpapers
Design desktop and mobile wallpapers that employees/fans will want to use. Whether we realize it or not, we look at our computer/tablet/smartphone wallpapers all day, everyday. A very 90’s recommendation, this is very easy to do and can have a significant impact on branding.
This is an idea I just acted on for Humana. I did a few designs with inspirational quotes, hypothesizing that seeing these messages will boost employee morale and productivity. So far, it’s been very well-received. Plus, I enjoy walking around the office and seeing people staring at my designs 🙂
65. Use Google Docs for brainstorming
Brainstorming is powerful. The problem is that even when you say “No idea is a bad idea” to encourage unmitigated creativity, people still hold back. At least I do. I’m scared I’ll suggest something dumb!
So here’s the hack: get a group of people in a room, tell them what you want to brainstorm on, then have them go back to their desks (or wherever) and log into a shared Google document. They then add to the brainstorming session without worrying if others will think their ideas are bad ideas because they won’t be able to tell who said what.
66. Ideas on using Periscope for businesses
Periscope is the latest hot social media darling. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a smartphone app that allows people to live stream videos to followers.
It might be worth investing a bit of time to gain some traction on this platform early on if it actually becomes as popular as some “experts” say it will.
- Stream events you’re already hosting
- Stream a Q&A session once a week. If you aren’t getting any q’s directly on Periscope, come up with your own and answer them.
I may test streaming an idea on Periscope as an experiment. If I do, I’ll report back my findings.
67. 10 to 1
I have to be honest, coming up with ten ideas every day isn’t too difficult. But between recording videos, writing them down and syndicating them on LinkedIn, Facebook, email and here, sharing them takes a lot of time.
I may need to reduce the 10 ideas I share per day to one idea I share per day. My hypothesis is that I’d still be delivering a lot of value while also being less overwhelming for me and you. I’d love to know your thoughts on this.
68. Commercial-free sports programming
An online television network that shows professional sporting events, ad-free. Users pay a monthly fee to subscribe to the service. The coverage nixes commercials and any form of advertisements (e.g. “The play of the game is brought to you by ______”). When you crunch the numbers, it’s startling to see the percentage of time dedicated to airing commercials and ads when we’re tuning in to watch the action.
69. Data-driven personalized diet
A diet that is based on your body’s unique needs, as determined by a thorough medical analysis. You spend $2,500 up front, for instance, every year, to complete a variety of tests (food intolerance/allergy, nutrient deficiency, heavy metal toxicity, cholesterol, etc. test). You input your lab test results, health goals and demographic information (age, gender, height, weight, ethnicity, etc.) and an algorithm determines the ideal combination of food/drink that you should ingest in a given week. It could recommend a mainstream diet program (e.g. Atkins, Mediterranean, gluten-free, etc.) or recommend specific recipes that are in line with its findings.
70. Daily video snapshots
An app that enables you to take videos up to 10 seconds long. Unlike Snapchat, you’re able to save and keep your videos for reference at any time. Unlike Instagram, the videos you take aren’t made public by default.
71. Compliment and/or give valuable ideas to someone everyday (ideally, in front of others)
Everyday, take the time to compliment or give valuable ideas to at least one person. The more genuine the message and the more visibility it gets, the better. It seems to me that the best leaders are those who are helping make those around them better. This can be done quite easily by tagging someone on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter; consider writing a handwritten note as an alternative (or in addition). I need to be better at this. Let’s get better together.
72. Prescription drug vending machine
If I was a pharmacist, I’d be scared. Why? Because in the future, there should (and will) be vending machines that verify patients’ identities (using retina or fingerprint scanners or have them answer a series of security questions) and insurance carriers, then formulates and dispenses the patients’ prescribed drugs.
This will save a massive amount of time for patients and money for pharmacies; a total industry disruptor.
73. Reverse auction website for art
A website where a user posts a piece of art they want and the amount of money they want to pay. Artists compete to win the job/prize/money.
For example, I have a photograph I’ve taken that I want a local artist (50 miles within a particular ZIP code) to paint for $500. Artists do the painting (or a draft of it) for me. If I like one of the options, I purchase it.
Don’t think this will work? It’s a slight modification to the site, 99Designs.com, which is for graphic and print design. It’s facilitated over $100 million in transactions.
74. Universal receipts
Every receipt should have a scannable barcode-like graphic printed on the bottom of it. Once scanned, the barcode dumps all of the data of your purchase (the name, type and purchase price of items, store location and contact information, date and time of transaction, etc.) into a mobile app. You can use this information to track spending across stores for budgeting, tax-filing purposes, etc.
The challenge: beyond executing on the tech, getting buy-in from stores to adopt the technology.
75. Intelligent speed limit signs
Speed limit signs should change depending on road conditions, traffic and/or the time of day.
76. School/speed zone notifications
When you enter and exit school and speed zones, you should be notified (for instance by your smartphone, your car’s in-dash computer, a small piece of hardware bought at an auto shop, etc.). This would improve the safety of all while reducing speeding tickets.
77. Nail polish control
From what I’ve been told, painting finger- and toenails really bites. Here’s the idea: polish/paint that you drip on a nail that spreads out evenly across the nail, coating it perfectly in a few seconds without spilling over onto the skin. Engineers, rev your engines, because you’d need to somehow make the polish adhesive to keratin but not to skin. If/when they crack the code, this idea will wildly succeed.
78. Prescribed music
Recent scientific research is confirming what we’ve felt for centuries: music has the power to heal.
I’d like to be able to have my brain scanned while listening to different types of music. The results would be used to prescribe certain tracks I should listen to in order to help me feel/perform a certain way (e.g. I’m prone to being creative when listening to Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot; I’m prone to being happy when listening to Requiem: Lacrimosa by Mozart).
79. Text-to-speech for article reading
Technology that would read articles to me so I can learn on the go.
Update: I had no idea this technology was at my fingertips until the idea came across my radar and was motivated to search for it.
If you’re using a Mac (like me), you simply select the text you want to have read, control+click, click “Speech”, then click “Start Speaking.” Instantly, you can sit back and relax while the text is read to you.
Want to listen to the article later?
Simply control+click then select, “Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track.”
Want to change the voice type or reading speed?
On a Mac, go to System Preferences > Dictation & Speech and update the options as you wish.
80. Daily video tech tip
Searching for a solution to the previous idea inspired this idea. This happens quite a lot. Ideas tend to build on top of each other like that.
A website where subscribers pay a tiny amount (e.g. $.99/mo.) to get a daily video tech tip sent via email everyday.
Subscribers learn a little something new and can practice it every day. Over time, that will lead to massive gains in productivity and it’s an insurance policy of sorts to keep you from falling behind. Would you pay $.99/mo. to have me send 30 fresh ideas sent to your inbox per month? Or another consistent bite of valuable info to keep you in the loop? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
81. Customer interviewing service for companies
Essentially a market research company, you are solely conducting interviews to understand the pain points of customers in a particular industry. You record these interviews and summarize your findings, which you can sell to R&D and marketing departments of large companies for a handsome fee.
82. A company that prototypes and launches Kickstarter campaigns for entrepreneurs
The world is full of ideas. The tough part is executing on them. The design and build processes pose two large hurdles for aspiring entrepreneurs. Even if these hurdles are overcome, an entrepreneur must also successfully market and distribute their idea/product. A company dedicated to working with entrepreneurs to help them prototype their products and create professional Kickstarter (or Indiegogo) campaigns in exchange for cash and/or equity would be a true win-win.
83. Purchase and grow promising websites and mobile apps
Think of this like house flipping meets websites and mobile apps. There are countless website and apps that have/do meet real market demands but are underperforming. Why? Maybe it’s because the developer abandoned the project for personal reasons, its design was awful and/or it wasn’t marketed well (or at all). If you know what to look for and how to execute on improving the tech, this can be a fun/profitable endeavor. You can find these underperforming products for sale on sites like Flippa.com. Also, look at app stores like Google Play. Search for apps that have a good number of reviews but haven’t been updated in the last six months.
84. Movie theater memberships
Rather than paying $15-20 every time you see a movie, you pay a flat monthly or annual subscription fee to see unlimited movies at a movie theater or group of theaters. You win because you get a discount, so long as you see enough movies. Movie theaters win because they’ll have more traffic at their theaters, which leads to more concession sales. Movie production houses win because they get more data about who is watching their movies. They can use this data to improve their productions and marketing campaigns.
85. Tiny connected time-lapse cameras
I’d like to be able to stick a peg in the ground with a tiny camera on it, which takes a time-lapse video of my plants blooming, then email me that video every 24 hours. This is a sample use-case. You could do the same to watch your puppy play throughout the day, a home project progress or the sun set and the stars shine bright.
86. Online course: how to find and land your dream job
Most people hate their jobs or at least feel as if their current gig isn’t their dream job. This course would teach how to figure out what they are meant to do with their lives, what opportunities exist in the current market and how to capitalize on those opportunities by crafting top-shelf resumes, networking strategically, acing interviews and negotiating salaries.
87. Online course: why and how to brand yourself online
Many people either don’t have any online reputation or, if they do, it’s not flattering (i.e. online rants on Twitter, pictures of doing keg stands in college, etc.). This is despite how valuable having a strong personal brand can be when searching for a job, negotiating a raise, raising your prices, being respected in your industry, among your friends and family, etc. This course would teach how to setup and optimize social media profiles and a personal website to create and maintain a strong online brand.
88. Online course: why and how to outsource the creation of an app or website
So many people have a great idea for an app or website but they never pursue it because they think it will cost too much and/or be too difficult to develop. Although both of those can certainly be true, if your idea is rather simple, those are silly excuses. This course would teach how to design your idea, then find, hire and manage someone to develop your idea at an affordable price (less than $2,500).
89. Online yard sales
This is EBTH.com (my new favorite website) for yard sales. A company that professionally photographs, describes, uploads and auctions off yard sale items on behalf of a seller. You and the product owner split the sales revenue 25/75.
90. Tinder for goods
App users upload photos of unwanted items. You swipe through the items in your local area that others are willing to part with. If you get a match (when you like an item someone else has posted and they like the item you’ve posted), you can then message each other with the hope that you’ll do a deal.
91. Men’s belt accessories
The male equivalent of Pandora’s charm bracelets or boy scout belt loops. Each accessory might symbolize a big event in a guy’s life or something about him (e.g. marriage, birth of a child, golfer, fisherman, etc.). A great conversation piece. Personal yet scalable.
92. Universal web logins
Login to your computer once by scanning your fingerprint or retina. Have an open API that all websites can use to allow web visitors to click once to login, install, subscribe, purchase, etc.
I can’t stand logging into websites over and over again, trying to remember many different passwords. I’d pay $1,000/yr to save the time I’m currently wasting because this problem’s not solved.
I know Apple is in hot pursuit of this and the IBM laptops had (have?) fingerprint scans. This idea has a billion times more potential than what’s currently been realized.
93. Spend 1 hour each day doing something for someone else
Make a meal for someone, come up with a list of ideas that could help their business, introduce them to people in your network, call them up and ask how their day is going, donate or volunteer at the charity of their choice, etc.). Expect nothing in return.
94. Gratitude bracelets
A charm bracelet that communicates things you’re grateful for. This is almost a total rip-off of Pandora charm bracelets, but with a slight marketing twist. I’m starting to get self-conscious about my affinity for charm bracelets now… 😉
95. Health insurance decision wizard
A website that helps me decide what health insurance is right for me across all health insurance carriers and government-sponsored programs. TurboTax may already have this. If they don’t, they should. Their user experience team is uniquely suited to design this tool. If they do, there’s still room for others. There should also be a version marketed toward large enterprises, which would pay to offer it to their employees who, in my experience, are overwhelmed when it comes to figure out what plan to select.
96. Collaborative online storytelling
A website where users can stitch together a limited amount of text (140 characters?), videos (10 seconds?) and/or photos (1?) to tell a single story. It could just be for fun or it could be for informational purposes. This reminds me of that Whose Line Is It Anyway? routine, the three-headed broadway star (thank you Wikipedia), where each person can only say one word at a time. Together their words tell an often hilarious story no single person playing it could have predicted. Everyone loves stories, especially when they’re short and filled with rich multimedia content.
97. Turn your sink into a dishwasher
I’m not sure how this would be pulled off (I’m relying on you, comments section). If someone could design a way to make this happen and sell it for 1/10th of the price of a dishwasher, there are a lot of people who would buy this in a heartbeat (myself included). Those living in apartments in densely-populated cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago would also love this. I imagine the major obstacle would be making it work for a variety of sink dimensions.
98. A small digital scoreboard controlled by your phone
No, it wouldn’t be as functional or as cost-effective as one of those scoreboards where you flip over the numbers printed on vinyl (BORING), but it could keep track of and display more information and log results over time. It would add a new level of professionalism to the event. People love gadgets. It’s technically possible – and affordably so – thanks to Arduino boards (https://www.arduino.cc/) and smartphones. Likely best suited for amateur sports like kickball, softball, football leagues, etc.
99. AirBnB marketing & management
You stage and photograph home owners’ properties, list them on AirBnB, and take care of customer service (reply to messages, recruit reviews, etc.). You get a percentage of each reservation. Home owners get money they never planned on making.
Let’s assume it takes less an hour to get each new listing up and running and an hour to field messages per week, per property. Assuming an avg. property books 20 nights/yr. at $200/night, managing 20 listings and negotiating a 25% rev. share, that’s an extra $20,000 for 72 hours of work ($277.78/hour). Not bad.
100. A premium news curation service for professionals
Business professionals like lawyers, doctors, dentists, IT professionals have to stay on the cutting edge of their fields but have no time to do it.
New information is getting pumped out every day and it’s very difficult to stay on top of it without dedicating hours scanning multiple websites and reading in-depth articles (with info and opinions of varying quality and bias).
For a low price ($19.99/user/mo?), you pay to receive a daily email digest of curated news specifically related to your profession.
This might just be a list of ten takeaways in a bulleted list with a news brief below each and links to specific articles if there’s a desire to dig further.
The Skimm does this quite well for everyday news (thanks Jordy for the tip). But nobody will pay for that. It’s too general.
Niche down and serve a specific audience with very little time and a lot to gain by staying on top of their domain.
Sell it to large, affluent enterprises (e.g. MD VIP) and instantly tap into 1,000’s of subscribers with a single account.
101. Contextual mobile app
I almost always walk into a densely populated area and think, “I know there’s someone here who I can help or who can help me, but I just don’t know who that is and where to begin.” This ideas is a mobile app that allows someone to see who’s nearby, including their story, their needs, and their wants. This isn’t a new concept but one that’s been poorly executed in my opinion. Facebook even failed at it. This would be for the purpose of networking and/or opening yourself up to serendipity. It could also be used to help those in need nearby.
102. Show and tell for home pros
A website where home professionals (home builders, interior designers, carpenters, freemasons, blacksmiths, etc. – creative types, not plumbers or roofers) can showcase their work, and, in doing so, market their services and inspire others.
This is essentially a niched down Pinterest or dribbble.com for home pros.
The home decor category is consistently among the top 4 most popular categories on Pinterest depending on the reports you read. Home professionals struggle to leverage the web because most aren’t tech-savvy but they know they need to. I know this because my dad has been building homes for nearly three decades. On this website, they could sign up and start uploading photos of their work to instantly build their brand online. Non-home pros can use the site to get inspiration for DIY projects and put photos that inspire them into collections for reference later. They could also use the site to find a home pro for their next project.
Houzz does this quite well. I think there’s a lot of room in this space. The largest investment the avg. American makes is buying a home. There’s a lot of money changing hands in this niche, which makes earning attention in it especially excellent for an entrepreneur.
103. A premium stock- or racehorse-picking e-newsletter
This is a very basic idea and it’s been done a thousand times. But if you do solid research and have a track record of picking winners, people will pay for your insights; very little $ is required to get this going. Start by using MailChimp for managing/sending emails and Paypal to receive payments.
104. Healthcare price aggregator
A website where patients post their insurance carrier and policy, the medical procedures they had and the prices they paid so other patients can make educated buying decisions and doctors are forced to compete on price.
Healthcare has ZERO pricing transparency. I went in for what I thought was a basic test recommended by my family doctor and paid a $50 co-pay at the time of service. TWO MONTHS LATER, I got a bill in the mail for $1,400. WTF?! Why is this acceptable?! It’s not acceptable. It needs to be disrupted by pooling information patients like us already have.
105. A website that lists ideas
People can vote the ideas up or down and even donate money to them if they want. This would be like a lite version of Kickstarter or GoFundMe. It would require less hoops to jump through to communicate an idea with the world and get feedback. Update: check out ProductHunt.com, which is very similar to this idea; neat site!
106. A story-sharing website
People can share stories via text or video up to 2,000 characters or 60 seconds long, respectively. Others vote on them/react. Each day, the best stories get prizes. Everyone has and loves a good story.
107. Sizing and buying stores
A store dedicated to showcasing items from all types of brands and helping buyers place online orders. You have no cost of inventory. Other brands pay you to place their products in your store. All you have to pay is rent, utilities and staff. Let’s not pretend that we don’t go into Best Buy to look at things, then go online and find it cheaper elsewhere. This store embraces the new reality of consumer behavior rather than fighting it.
108. Telephone booths/meditation rooms in offices.
Companies should have small spaces on every floor dedicated to allowing people to escape stress and/or take phone calls. The most elite professionals and athletes meditate to train their minds. If companies want to thrive, they should encourage and empower their employees to do the same.
109. Secret Event Management
You select 20 influencers in your city. Ideally, the influencers don’t know each other well but you think they’ll benefit if they did. Send out exclusive invitations for an upcoming event to these people.
Have someone you know dress up in very nice clothes and personally hand-deliver the invitations to build up invitee excitement. On the invitation, tell the invitee that they are one of 20 influencers hand-picked to attend. Supply the time and location.
The event should be at an intimate, unique location where nobody has eaten before (e.g. on the stage at The Center for The Arts, on the basketball floor at the YUM! Center, at the top of a skyscraper, on a yacht traveling down a river). The event will cost $150 per person.
Hire a chef (or better yet, recruit a chef to cook for free in exchange for having their work showcased to the influencers). The goal of this venture is not to make money! It is to be at the center of connecting people, giving them a great experience and learning from them.
110. The Trunk Club for home decor/art
Every season, you receive a new shipment of art/decorations/rugs/etc. to display in your home. You send back what you received the previous season or purchase it if you want to own the item. An affordable way to have a beautiful home – and keep it updated with the latest tastes.
111. Magnetic wall gardens
A way to arrange small plants on a wall. You hang a large magnetized board on the wall. There are magnets on each pot, which would let you snap the pots in different arrangements. A neat way to decorate – and perfect for people living in apts. in densely populated areas (NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc.) who miss Mother Nature and lack space.
112. An affordable lie detector app
The app senses voice change, heart rate change (and possibly?) pupil movement/dilation to tell if a person is telling the truth or not. Maybe made possible by leveraging wearables like a FitBit HR or Google Glass.
113. Floating solar farms
Build large docks near the coastlines that have thousands of solar panels to harvest and store the sun’s power.
114. PR/SEO strategy
The best way to boost a website’s search engine rankings is to build high quality backlinks. A strategy I’d recommend is creating and giving away high value content for a website you’d love to link back to your site. For instance, create (or pay someone to create) a thorough article, infographic or video you think a website’s audience would love that they can publish exclusively on their site. They will likely post it and link back to your site in exchange.
115. Omega 3 breath-freshening spray for dogs
I took care of my brother’s dogs this last week. Dogs’ breath stinks! Create a liquid formula with omega 3’s (to improve coat/joint/brain health) that also has a breath-freshening ingredient, which could be sprayed directly into a dog’s mouth or on their food once daily. It’s a win-win for the owner and the dog.
116. Ketogenic nutrition line
This may exist but it’s not mainstream (yet). The ketogenic diet is very good for enhanced mental performance. I’d like to see a line of protein bars that would allow someone to stay in a ketotic state.
117. Retractible dog leash
You’re probably thinking, “I have one of those, idiot.” You do, but not really. When you set your leash to be shorter, then it no longer retracts. When your dog is very close to you, the leash gets loose, your dog will inevitably start doing crazy eights and a CF ensues. There needs to be a leash that retracts even when you set a limit on its length to avoid this daily horror.
118. Peanut butter with ice cream
We’ve all seen ice cream with peanut butter. NO! You’re doing it wrong. It’s the peanut butter we really want, not the ice cream, people. There should be jars of peanut butter with small capsules of ice cream that your keep in the freezer. Let’s not pretend that we don’t eat spoonfuls of peanut butter like we do with ice cream.
119. Monthly personalized nutritional supplementation
We’re different. We eat different things in different amounts, have different stress levels and genetics, live in different environments, have different workout routines, etc. So your nutritional needs are different than mine. And your needs today will be different than your needs next week/month/year. So why are the nutrition supplements we all take the same? They shouldn’t be. You should be able to send urine/stool samples via mail once per month to a company. The company tests the samples to discover your body’s current nutritional needs, then creates and sends your personalized nutritional supplement to your door. Repeat.
120. Do the opposite: Wi-fi not spots (aka “Shut up and talk to me” zones)
Everybody wants universal wi-fi. We’ll have it eventually. But just because we CAN have it everywhere doesn’t mean we SHOULD. I’d like to see some places champion NOT having wi-fi.
Where it used to be a competitive advantage to claim, “WE HAVE WI-FI!” I am now just as – if not more – happy to see a sign that reads, “WE DON’T HAVE WI-FI! ENJOY YOUR FRIENDS!”
It’s time to stop being interrupted by technology when the people around us offer so much more.
121. Ping an “untouchable”
This is a little mind hack I stumbled across last week when I sent a tweet to the CEO of a very large company. Earlier in the week, I heard he did 90 minutes of yoga each morning. I was curious if he also did meditation during his morning routine. So I asked him. And guess what? He responded! We had another exchange after that. It’s fun and oddly empowering to communicate with someone who you previously thought was out of reach.
Today, try messaging someone seemingly out of reach that you respect (ask them a genuinely good question, keep it brief). See if you can strike up a conversation. If you’re able to, it’s amazing how the playing field of life seems to become more level.
122. Win the morning, win the day.
Try doing the same routine each morning to build positive momentum you can carry into and through your day. Whether it’s doing 5 push-ups, reading for 15 minutes, making the bed, meditating for 20 minutes, etc. – there are a ton of simple things you can do, which when stacked on top of each other really seems to make you feel like you’re going to crush the day to come.
123. The Pomodoro technique
Try the Pomodoro technique to improve your work productivity. The premise is: identify a task to do, work for 25 minutes on that task, take a 3-5 minute break, then repeat. After repeating 3-5 times, take a longer break. Admittedly, I’m not great at doing this, but when I do, I find it works well. I prefer 1 hour on, 15 minutes off (depending on how grueling the work is). Try it!
124. The hair magnet
I can’t take full credit for this. Kristy and Ashley breathed life into this idea. All ladies, by a show of comments, how many times have you wished you could remove the hair from your bathroom floors and sinks?
The idea here is to create a hair magnet to be placed around the foot of your vanity OR on the inside of your sink’s drain (as to not inhibit the flow of water down the drain). The hair-attracting apparatus would make the sight of that stray strand bother you no more.
I’m staring at you, scientists, to discover how to invent this keratin-catching, breathtaking breakthrough. All I can say is that when you do, it will quite incredibly blow my hair back and catch it in one fell swoop.
125. Stacking soda/beer Cans (aka Soda Stacks/Beer Blocks)
This idea actually struck me years ago at a party when I asked a friend if he wanted me to grab a beer for him on my way to a cooler, only to have his confirmation followed by fellow friends echoing similar sentiments. I soon realized I couldn’t carry all of those beers. That’s when the ah-ha moment occurred: I wanted the beer cans to stack on top of each other like magic markers for easier transport.
But why stop there? That should just be one level of connectedness.
The next level should cause the bottom of the top can to puncture the top of the bottom can so that 12 oz. cans could turn into 24 oz. cans, 24 oz. into 36 oz., etc.
I actually tried to design this years ago with a friend, but am at a standstill. I could go on about why I think this is a neat idea and how I’d market it. If you have an idea about how this might be designed, contact me.
126. The real skeleton key
I’m tired of carrying around 15 keys for 15 locks. It’s time for 1 key that fits 15 different locks.
127. Dog rental
I love dogs and enjoy caring for them occasionally but don’t want the full commitment of owning one. Dog owners love their dogs but occasionally travel or work long hours and would love reputable people to give their fur balls some love. There should be a website that enables dog lovers the ability to volunteer or get paid to care for/walk dogs.
128. Celebrity perspective rental
What if a celebrity wore glasses that recorded what they experienced for a night/day? Imagine if you could pay for the right to watch what they were experiencing for a particular timeframe so you could feel what it was like to live their life? This is reality TV 3.0 and there are a lot of privacy logistics you’d have to navigate to make this acceptable/not creepy. I’m not sure that I fully back this concept, but it’s thinking outside of the box. And I can hang my hat and sleep well tonight in the name of that.
129. The muscle memory machine
A bodysuit that would show you exactly how to move to make the perfect golf swing, tennis serve, and dance move. Imagine being able to plug in Tiger Woods’ golf swing circa 2003 and see what it feels like to swing like him. Hell, the Tiger of today would probably be first in line to buy this item (comment dated: July 2015).
When I was a kid, I got a bunch of golf lessons. I’m not sure the exact number, but I probably worked with more than 10 instructors up until I went to college. Out of that group, the bad ones told me five or more things I needed to work on during a lesson. The decent ones told me two to five things to work on. The good ones told me ONE thing to work on. The best instructor SHOWED me the one thing I needed to do, THEN took my hands, arms and club and helped me feel what it felt like to do that one thing.
Our bodies/minds are much more effective at processing and storing information when we are shown what to do, then actively involved in doing that thing.
You just have to make sure that what you are being shown and told to do is the right thing.
With the muscle memory machine, you’d cover all the bases.
130. Small business rewards program hack
Every small business seems to have a rewards program these days as a way to incentivize customers to keep coming back. Let’s say an ice cream store runs a promo where for every nine peanut butter milkshakes you buy, they give you the 10th one free. That’s pretty standard and will likely work okay. I think there’s a way to make this program work even better: The first time a customer signs up for the rewards program, give them six punches on their rewards card instead of one. So instead of the new customer being nine more purchases away from getting a free PB milkshake, they are only four purchases away. This should boost the number of customers who want to opt for the program and make them more likely to come back in because redeeming the reward feels much more within reach.
131. Self-watering plants
Plant pots should have a reservoir of water. You should be able to fill that reservoir up, then set how much of that water you’d like to be automatically dispensed into the plant each day. Or, better yet, water could auto-dispense based on the soil’s moisture level. The dispenser would be solar-powered.
132. Transition shades/windows
Shades/windows should change their opacity based on the strength of the sunlight so that rooms stay at optimal brightness for consistent, optimal temperature control, visibility, etc.
133. 30 day experiments
This exercise (coming up with new ideas and sharing them with the world) has been incredibly fun. It’s been amazing how much positive feedback I’ve received in such a short time. I’m thinking about doing a new experiment every 30 days. Subscribe to my email newsletter for more news on this.
134. Tiny house hunt
A website that shows photos of tiny houses (less than 1,000 sq. feet), lists tiny houses and land for sale/rent, and sells tiny house blueprints.
There is a site that exists out there that does this same thing, TinyHouseListings.com, but it’s heinous and clunky.
The tiny house movement is booming and I don’t think it’s a fad. A growing number of Americans are realizing that having a large home filled with a lot of junk doesn’t equate to happiness.
When I first came across this movement a year ago while watching a documentary called Tiny, I bought the web domain TinyHouseHunt.com. I’ve been publishing photos on its related Facebook page, Tiny House Hunt (go check it out and give it a Like). I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much engagement it’s received and that it’s attracted over 2,000 fans in a few months.
Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see how much steam this trend has. I’m not sure if I’ll do anything with this idea or not, but I do think there is an opportunity here.
135. Change the punctuation at the end of your thoughts
This is an idea I picked up while reading recently (Choose Yourself by James Altucher). I can’t take credit for it, but I had to share it with you. When you catch yourself feeling frustrated/angry/etc., change the punctuation at the end of your thoughts.
For instance, if you almost run into a car because the driver didn’t put their turn signal on (a huge pet peeve of mine), you might think (or yell), “That driver is such an idiot!”
Instead, change the exclamation mark to a question mark so you think, “That driver is such an idiot?” Then you start to wonder, “Maybe it was an elderly person who just had a lapse of thought, or maybe the person has had a really rough day and they’re distracted.” We just don’t know. It’s best not to assume and make their problems become our negative emotions. I like this little exercise.
Try it! Try it? – See what I did there? 😉
136. Design your own stress reliever
An e-commerce website that sells punching bags/voodoo dolls(?)/dartboards that you can personalize. Want to punch your worst enemy? Upload a picture, click buy and in a few short days you can punch away without consequence. Not my best idea, but my mind’s getting tired.
137. A sequel to Happy Gilmore
Why hasn’t this happened? Caddyshack 2 was one of the worst sequels of all time, yet it’s still a cult classic and has millions of sales. There’s really nothing that could go wrong with this one.
138. Haircut helmets
Imagine if there was something you could put on your head that would safely cut your hair in a matter of seconds, exactly the way you want; ideal for those with short hair.
139. Computers that follow your eye movement
This would be especially valuable for those working on multiple monitors. Every day, many times a day, I start typing away, assuming one window is active, only to realize it’s not. Then I have to find my cursor, activate the right window and go from there. This is a first world problem, but I’d pay to have it solved.
140. Bricks made of recycled waste
This likely exists but it really should be more mainstream by now. Homeowners should get tax incentives to build a home with this material.
141. Made-to-order furniture
Think of this like Papa Murphy’s meets carpentry. Imagine if you could jump on a website that lets you pick your preferred design, then specify the exact dimensions you need to fit your space. Once you place the order, the company makes the cuts and assembles the furniture. You pick it up. If the furniture needs to be painted/stained/etc., you can handle that at your pace and place.
142. Live on-the-job-training
Want to be a coder? A plumber? A teacher?
If you already are, want to make some extra money doing what you already do?
Imagine if you could live-stream your day to others aspiring to do what you do. For a small price, they could pay you to see what it’s like to do your job and ask questions.
143. Mentor matching
A website that connects those who want a mentor with people willing to mentor others. Mentors could specify requirements like, “I’ll answer your questions via telephone an hour a week if you can help conduct research on X topic.”
144. Crowdsourced AAA
A mobile app that enables people to volunteer to provide support to local drivers who might find themselves stranded on the highway.
145. Airline seat swapping
Airlines should offer their passengers the ability to auction off their seats (or seating order in the case of Southwest) to fellow passengers up to a few hours before the flight. If I’m traveling alone, I’d be happy to swap my ticket for $ I could use to buy a beer in-flight.
146. Car ad rental
A website where businesses bid for ad space on cars. Make extra cash on the side by placing ads on your car.
147. Vagabonding guide
A guide that shows you how it’s possible to travel around the world without breaking the bank. I’ve been meaning to buy this related book, which is recommended by Tim Ferris, a guy I highly respect.
148. On Time Meeting Alerts
I’d love to know when I need to leave a location in order to be on time for an upcoming meeting. It would be neat for Google Maps and iCal (in my case) to work together, referencing your current location, upcoming meeting time/location, and current traffic patterns to inform me when I need to leave and what routes I should take.
149. Karma cash
You load money into a mobile app. That money is assigned a number of “Karma” points. You can give those points out to others as a sign of charity or as gratitude for their kindness. They can then redeem those points for cash, product discounts or to a charity of their choice.
150. Tastebud taser
One contributing factor to the skyrocketing obesity rate is people (myself included) overindulging simply because something tastes so damn good. Peanut butter, anyone?
What if you could get a relatively painless injection in your tongue that would numb your tastebuds, killing your cravings for a week (for example)?
I couldn’t pursue this idea because it conflicts with my preference towards taking more natural approaches to solving root causes of problems. But if people will pay tens of thousands of dollars to go under the knife and risk their lives to get bariatric surgery, the tongue taser doesn’t seem like a far-fetched money-maker.
151. Ad bidding and selling platform
A website where people could sell and businesses could buy ad space. You could buy/sell ad space on cars, roofs, sides of buildings (provided local zoning laws don’t conflict), endorsement deals with micro-celebrities (e.g. YouTube stars), product placement in documentary films, website ads, etc.
152. Video game streaming
I’m not a gamer at all, but I’m not dumb enough to ignore that gaming is a HUGE business. And serious nerds (I’m a nerd so I can say this) would pay big bucks to be coached by/look over the shoulders of expert gamers as they play to get a leg up on their friends. There should be a website that allows expert gamers to live-stream their play to those willing to pay for access to it.
153. Daily talking points and jokes
An app that has a daily digest of great conversation topics and newsworthy jokes that I could integrate into conversations to keep them humming along. Great for networking or not being super awkward when you run into that hot guy/girl and you all of the sudden forget how to talk.
154. Assisted online purchasing
I had a friend in college who was so freaking good at comparing products and pricing across tons of websites. He would research hours – sometimes days – until he would make a purchase. And when he did, you knew he made the right choice. Naturally, I would just draft off of him and buy what he bought if I was also in the market.
I always joked, “Man, you should do this for a living!”
You know what? He should! I’d pay a monthly subscription to send him items I’d like to buy in exchange for his unbiased, well-researched recommendations. I’d have the peace of mind I got the best item and the best price. And he would love his job because he seemed to like the hunt just as much as the items he bought.
155. Natural anti-inflammatory pill
Aspirin is harsh on the stomach. Long-time usage (despite being frequently recommended by MDs) is known to cause digestive issues, especially stomach ulcers. Instead, how about taking a pill that’s a combination of nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon and cloves?
I know this sounds silly, but scientific research is backing this as a legit solution with much less associated risk (source).
156. Glow in the dark tile grout
Perfect for kids’ bathrooms. There’s no need for a nightlight when your bathroom floor is glowing. I wish I had this when I was a kid. Hell, I wish I had it now.
157. Crowdsourced storage
A website where people could rent out spots in their homes/apartments/garages to others to be used as storage space.
158. Key caller
A way to call or ping your keys using a phone or an app installed on it.
159. “Success is based on the number of uncomfortable conversations you have.”
This is a quote I first heard from Tim Ferriss, a guy I really respect. I heard it again yesterday. The longer I swim in the entrepreneurial waters, the more I realize how true this saying is. Another related quote I’ve been thinking a lot about: “What we fear most is usually what we most need to do.” Think about what that one thing is and stare it in the face tomorrow.
160. Universally understood sarcasm emoji
Sarcasm and texting mix like oil and water – UNLESS there was an emoji that you could include that clearly communicated that your message shouldn’t be taken seriously. Imagine the number of relationships this would save. This could be the most powerful idea I’ve come up with yet. #universalsarcasmemoji
161. TV Intelligence rating
Just like Parental Guidelines, there should be Intelligence Guidelines that would communicate how likely a TV show could help sharpen your brain (e.g. Jeopardy) or turn it into mush (e.g. Keeping Up with the Kardashians). An instant hit among parents and teachers.
162. An Unrigged Facebook
A decade or so ago, when a Facebook status update was published by an individual or business, it would be seen by the vast majority of logged in users who were friends or fans of that person or business, respectively. Now, that percentage is down to 1-5%, depending on how Facebook’s EDGE algorithm values your post.
As a result, Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform for businesses, pushing small businesses aside in favor of those with deeper pockets. I believe there is now room for a social network that was like the Facebook of old that just leverages an alternative monetization strategy (selling premium profile features, giving companies the ability to sell on its platform in exchange for remitting a small percentage of their sales that take place, etc.).
163. Snapchat likes
A feature on Snapchat where you can like a person’s snap, especially their stories. Currently, if someone watches your story, you are prone to assume they liked it, especially if they watched a 200-second story of yours, for example. But that’s frequently not the case and it doesn’t help encourage content creators to generate better, newer types of content.
164. Company-enforced breaks
Companies that don’t allow their employees to sit and work for more than four hours at a time. If a company-issued computer is active for this long, the computer would save all files, then freeze for at least 15 minutes. The employee should then be encouraged to get up and take a walk or a nap. My hypothesis is the gains in productivity, health and wellbeing would trump the inconvenience and frustration that might result.
165. A way to save voicemails
I personally dislike voicemails, but some people LOVE them, and keep them for years to reminisce in a special memory. The problem is that when you save too many voicemails, your inbox becomes full. There should be a way to download your voicemails, save them offline, then delete them from your inbox so storage space doesn’t run thin.
166. Future life predictions based on elders’ life stories
I occasionally like to jump on Twitter and search the phrase, “I wish there was a way to.” It’s a neat trick to peek into what people around the globe are frustrated by and seeking.
Phrases I see a lot are, “I wish there was a way I could know that there will be better days ahead,” and “I wish there was a way to know if I was in the prime of my life.”
I’m not sure what the surefire solution is to this craving (short of inventing a time-traveling device). Perhaps it’s doing a better job of chronicling the many twists and turns our elders’ have experienced over the courses of their lives.
167. Identify who your 1,000 True Fans will be
If there’s one article you should read today, it’s this one by Kevin Kelly: 1,000 True Fans. I’m not going to summarize it because I want you to read it that much. After you read it, I challenge you to think about who your fans will be and how you’ll recruit them.
I read a very powerful quote yesterday by Gabrielle Reese (Laird Hamilton’s wife) who said, “In life, you will always have 30 percent who love you, 30 percent who hate you, and 30 percent who couldn’t care less.”
I’m not sure where the other 10 percent of people went. I guess math wasn’t Gabrielle’s strong suit?
Still, I love the message when combined with the point shared in the article above. My takeaway: you can’t satisfy everyone and that’s fine… you don’t need to in order to live a full, rich life.
168. Do the opposite: send handwritten notes
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain.
I’m a big believer in the power of doing the opposite of the majority.
Right now, most people (myself included) send hoards of electronic messages (texts, status updates, emails, snaps, etc.) every day. As a result, each of these messages has decreased in value and handwritten notes have increased in value. Take the extra five minutes to bust out the pen and paper, jot down your thoughts and send it via snail mail.
169. Do the opposite: McDonalds should “own it”
As obesity continues to plague our country, consumer preferences and therefore marketing campaigns are changing. Healthier food/beverage options are the rage (and for good reason).
McDonalds is now trying to offer healthier alternatives on their menu to capitalize on this trend.
Let’s get real: this confuses us. McDonalds isn’t and won’t become a health food company. They should take a page out of Taco Bell’s book by standing up for what it is: a vendor of indulgent, supersized “food.”
No amount of marketing spend would convince me they are anything else. They might as well spend money appealing to their True Fans (see idea #167) than catering to those who hate them or just don’t care. Thank you, Gabrielle.
170. Oldies flash mobs
There should be oldies flash mobs in every city. Everyone with a soul loves oldies. Wedding receptions don’t happen frequently enough (or don’t play oldies, God forbid) for the human body to get a healthy number of twists and shouts in a given year.
171. An emotional detection device for students
Wouldn’t it be great if a teacher could detect which one (or group of) his/her students was frustrated/sad/angry, so that the teacher could give more attention to that student/group? So many students are afraid to speak up and therefore go unaided. With this device, the teacher could make sure students like these don’t fall through the cracks.
172. GlassDoor/RateMyProfessor for Managers
GlassDoor is a website where employees can anonymously rate their experience working at a company. This helps give prospective employees a peek into what it might really be like to work at a variety of companies. For big companies, these data points are too random to draw any meaningful conclusions. I’d like to see a GlassDoor for Managers so employees could anonymously post feedback/reviews of managers for whom they’ve worked for/with.
173. A western musical that takes place in the prohibition era set to Nat King Cole’s greatest hits
Tonight, my waitress recommended this to me when I asked her if she had any amazing ideas. Wow. There are so many levels of awesomeness to this, I feel like attempting to explain it would be inadequate 🙂
174. Stop thinking about your next question when someone’s talking
I’m guilty of this and I’m trying to work on improving. I need to be better at giving someone my undivided attention when they’re talking. I then need to do a better job at pausing when they finish talking and allowing them to either continue talking or to come up with a question or comment to continue the convo. There’s no reason to ask a question if you aren’t giving its answer 100% of your attention; otherwise, it’s disrespectful and likely indicates the question was shitty in the first place.
175. Interview question prep
An app that feeds you interview prep questions based on the type of job you’re applying for.
176. Server language training
An app that new waiters and waitresses can use to quickly learn common server menu abbreviations.
177. Focusing on big wins leads to a rich life
We’re all told that a penny saved is a penny earned. Although that’s literally true, a penny saved and reinvested intelligently is worth far more. And if we earn 99 more pennies, we don’t have to be so obsessed about saving.
Instead of cutting out that daily coffee that most personal finance consultants recommend, consider focusing on the big wins.
Big wins include: investing in your own skills and brand to make you more marketable, negotiating a reduced monthly rent/cable bill, negotiating a raise, negotiating a new home sale/purchase, etc. These habits could result in an additional $1,000 to $10,000 free cash flow per year, which can result in a measurable improvement in your lifestyle.
178. Those with DUIs have to pass a breathalyzer test to start their cars
If you lose our trust, you have to pass the test for the safety of all.
179. On-demand at-home cooking
Forget booking a reservation at a restaurant. That’s expensive and it takes a lot of time to get ready and travel to/from your destination. Instead, have a personal chef cook a meal of your choice at your home. He/she can cook while you lounge around in your PJs or teach you how to cook the meal yourself.
180. An analytics site that monitors website rankings
It would be neat if there was a website that tracked other websites across the internet (kind of like Alexa.com). I’d most like to see what sites are gaining or losing traffic at remarkable rates. This would be a powerful way to spot trends that are catching on/losing favor as well as what designs are most/least effective at captivating audiences. Investors and entrepreneurs could use this data to inform what opportunities they pursue.
181. A recommendation platform
A website where people could recommend their go-to products/service-providers. I frequently have folks call/text me, asking who I recommend for x, y or z. I’d love to be able to point them to a page where it lists it all.
182. An online course on how to negotiate a salary
This is a very powerful skill because it has the potential to result in increasing your income by thousands of dollars every year. Negotiating is uncomfortable for most people (including me), so we avoid it. It’s no surprise that when we find ourselves in a negotiation, we panic and/or cave. I think this would be a neat course to take that would be relevant to a lot of folks.
183. Buy, Sell and Print 3D Print Designs
If I design something cool, I’d love to sell that design to others. If someone wants to print something but doesn’t own a 3D printer, the website would have the option to enable the user to have the item printed out at a local print shop. I’d expect UPS and FedEx to have 3D printers in most of their shops in the next 1-3 years.
184. Toothbrush with heads on both ends
By putting a brush at each end of a standard toothbrush, you’d double the lifespan of a standard toothbrush and reduce waste.
185. A camera that takes one photo of you per day
It would be neat if a camera was installed somewhere in your house and it took a photo of whatever you were doing at a certain time every day. Over the course of your life, I think that collection of clips would be very meaningful.
186. Lost and Found Database
Millions of items are lost every day. It would be neat to have a website that makes it very easy for individuals/businesses to post items they’ve found. Perhaps items that have been found but not claimed after a certain period of time would then be sold. It would be an additional revenue stream for the companies.
187. Wait time widget
There should be a widget that businesses (restaurants would be the perfect client) can update via an app or SMS that posts their current wait time on their website.
188. Show and tell for chefs
A website where chefs post pictures and recipes of their meals. It would be a great (dare I say delicious) tool to use for promoting their personal brand and/or restaurant online.
189. The (Real) Easy Button
I want an Easy Button that I can actually push and it does something that makes my life easier or more entertaining. For example it could turn off all the lights in my house, turn my shower on while I’m still in bed, etc. The best of 90s advertising meets the internet of things movement!
190. Baby monitoring wearable
Baby monitors are great, except that they require an adult to check them constantly. Imagine if there was a wearable (like a FitBit equivalent) that a baby could wear when sleeping. It would monitor the baby’s heart rate, movement, and sound. The parent could get an alert on their phone or on a wearable of their own if/when the baby’s wearable logged notable activity. No more constant checking of the monitor. More peace of mind.
191. Shoes that increase in size as its owner’s feet grow
I like this idea a lot. It would keep parents from having to buy so many shoes as their children grow up. Update: I just found a company that has invented this product. The neat thing is they’re using the product to help those who need shoes the most. Check it out: https://theshoethatgrows.org/
192. Social media filter
A way to filter out social media status updates that include certain keywords/phrases (e.g. Bieber, Kardashians, celebrities) or sentiments (e.g. pessimistic, angry, etc.) so what you read/see online has less junk.
193. Outsourced bookkeeper
I do my taxes and bookkeeping, but I hate it. I’d like to outsource it. Recently I came across a company that offers outsourced bookkeeping. I may give them a go. I think this is a neat concept: http://Bench.co
194. Text scheduler
I’d like to be able to write out text messages and schedule them to be delivered to certain people and at certain times throughout a day/week. Back when I was dating and didn’t want to seem too desperate by replying immediately to text messages, this would have been handy. Don’t pretend like you don’t do this 😉
195. Crowdsourced radio DJ-ing
Radio stations are always asking people to tweet/call/etc. them with music recommendations. This is antiquated and self-serving for the radio stations to bump up their following/get native advertising. Instead, there should just be an app that allows listeners to control what song will be played on the radio station next based on listener votes. There’s no need for a radio DJ anymore. Let the people speak.
196. A daily education tip on Facebook
Facebook has a huge, engaged audience. Imagine the good Facebook could do if it simply communicated one educational message to a logged-in user every day. Let’s start with grammar-related tips to put an end to mixing up the words your and you’re.
197. Job decision wizard
A website that takes you through a series of questions/exercises. Based on your inputs, it suggests career paths for you and connects you to job openings and/or educational resources to help you get that job. So many people either hate their jobs or don’t have a job. Companies want to hire people who are ideal candidates for the jobs for which they apply. This website would create a win-win.
198. iPhone statuses
The ability to set a status update on your iPhone. Via Bluetooth, other iPhone users could walk by and read your status to see if you are busy, not feeling well, open to having a conversation, about to head to a meeting, etc. I like to be informed before I open my mouth. This would help.
199. Digital bumper stickers
A digital display that you’d adhere to one side of a pane of glass, likely the inside of your car’s rear windshield. You’d update the display using an app downloaded on your smartphone that’s connected to the digital bumper sticker via bluetooth.
For example, if you were en route to a sporting event, you could upload the logo belonging to the team you’re about to cheer on. Or if it’s time to vote, you might update your digital display with text that reads, “Get out the vote!” or “Vote for John Doe today!”
My only concern with this idea relates to safety. I’d make sure that the app would be disabled when a user is driving (i.e. when the smartphone’s in motion).
This idea isn’t mine, it’s my friend Ward’s. Ward reached out and shared this idea with me, then encouraged me to share it with you. Ward you are awesome – thank you for sharing.
200. An experience exchange
This is like an Ebay.com, but instead of buying products with money, you’re buying experiences with experiences.
For example, let’s say you’re a master painter. You could offer “for exchange” an afternoon where you teach someone how to paint with watercolors.
Keeping the fictitious example going, let’s say I’m a master carpenter who very much wants the experience you’re offering (and for the record, I really would).
In exchange for the experience you can uniquely offer, I bid for your experience by offering a morning where I teach you how to build a custom toolbox or jewelry box. If you want the experience I’m offering, you could accept my bid.
There are two reasons I love this idea:
- Experiences are much more valuable than “things” (they tend to be more memorable and create more happiness for longer periods of time than the expensive crap we’re drawn to buy).
- The transactions that would happen on this platform would be fascinating. You could have a rockstar offer a backstage pass experience and gladly exchange it for the opportunity to learn how to build a custom toolbox. To a third party, they might see this transaction and be confused because, to them, the backstage pass would be much more valuable than a morning with a carpenter. But to the individuals involved in the exchange, they would be equally thrilled.
201. Self-propelled strollers
Like many self-propelled lawnmowers, a stroller could be self-propelled with a push of a button. This likely exists. If it does, it should be more mainstream. Thanks to Judy Probus for sharing this idea with me. Judy, you’re an incredible grandmother and your imagination is stunning. 🙂
202. The ability to turn your smartphone’s flashlight off by blowing on its speaker
Like breath to a candle’s flame, a smartphone’s flashlight would be snuffed. With this feature, the iPhone would become even more magical. To me, brilliance often comes in the form of tiny tactile moments.
203. Give three genuine compliments to complete strangers
A very different idea than most of those included on this list, but it could be the most potent of them all. I issued and accepted this challenge while beginning to walk to my car at the end of a workday in downtown Louisville. It’s about a 15-minute-long walk. Shortly after accepting the challenge, my excitement was replaced with anxiety and fear. I don’t know why, because they are irrational emotions – I just wanted to make people happy.
Despite walking past someone new every few seconds, it took me a whopping 10 minutes before I had the guts to give my first compliment. It was to a teenager who was wearing cool shoes. I said, “I really like your shoes man!”
“Thank you so much!” He said, smiling.
You’d think that the compliment snowball would have really started to roll at that point. Nope.
I locked up again.
My next (and unfortunately final) compliment was given to a lady in her 40’s. She was walking toward me. When she was about two feet from passing me, I blurted out, “I love your necklace!”
I’m such a wimp.
I’ll never know how she reacted because she was past me by the time the comment sank in.
My imagination tells me her eyes opened, forehead creased and mouth bent as she muttered, “What a weirdo.”
Maybe that’s exactly what happened; but it’s unlikely that it did.
She probably smiled and carried that fleck of happiness with her on that sunny afternoon. I hope her subconscious recalls that feeling when she wears it again.
I only gave two out of the three compliments I wanted to give during that walk. That’s a failing grade. But my body, pulsing with dopamine when I got in my car, knew better.
Giving compliments is like hitting the NOS happiness button, whether you’re giving a compliment or receiving one. It’s readily available and works immediately, every time.
I welcome you to join me on the journey to give more genuine compliments to complete strangers. If you accept this challenge, please let me know how it goes. I’ll share more of my embarrassing stories in future posts and videos 😉
204. Automated toilet paper dispensers
Bathrooms have automated soap dispensers, faucets, air dryers, toilets and urinals. Why not toilet paper dispensers?
205. Publicly available busyness estimator
I often want to talk with someone during business hours, but I don’t want to interrupt them if they’re busy.
Many companies use instant messaging tools like Lync, Skype, Jabber, etc. that have a status feature (e.g. Away, Busy, Do Not Disturb, In a Meeting, etc.).
This is great if…
- Users consistently update their statuses
- You’re able to see a user’s status (if I want to call a person at Acme Co. that uses Lync and I don’t work at Acme Co., then I won’t be able to see that person’s status)
But at least one (and often both) of these is often not the case.
This idea is a publicly visible status that’s consistently being estimated based on a person’s current activity (e.g. in a meeting, on a phone call, sending a text message, clicking/typing on a computer/smartphone, out of the office, etc.).
I could imagine this being featured on a person’s Linkedin profile. I could reference it before giving them a call or walking up to their desk.
206. A “tunnel vision” button
When wanting to be highly productive, you’d click a button on your computer that would instantly put your smartphone into airplane mode, put your email account into offline mode and disable access to social media, news and entertainment websites. An optional feature would be to begin playing a classical music station on Spotify or Pandora.
207. Anonymous feedback loops
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
I’m very prone to not questioning myself enough. It’s easy to do because it’s comfortable to not question myself. When I question myself, I open myself up to discovering I’ve been doing/pursuing something stupid, which isn’t fun to discover, especially if I’ve spent a lot of resources (especially time) on it.
But to be successful, I know I have to keep reevaluating, questioning the things I believe to be true about me, the world, “facts.” Technology, people, beliefs, relationships, etc. change. I need to change with it. And the only way I can do that is through participating in reliable, tight feedback loops, by asking myself and others questions and LISTENING to their replies.
This idea is a website where its users are able to present information to others, then ask them for their honest, anonymous feedback. The number of responses can receive depends on the number of responses to others’ questions you’ve given (e.g. if I’ve answered three questions, I can receive three answers).
I can imagine using this platform to test whether an idea is worth pursuing, whether an email I’m about to send is well-worded (or worth sending at all), whether I should make a career or lifestyle change, etc.
The beauty of anonymity is that the feedback might be more honest (no need to worry about saving face). The challenge is knowing whether the advice/feedback is coming from a reputable source. This would be an interesting study on human psychology.
208. 9 women can’t have a baby in a month
I’ve found that hiring 10 mediocre designers or developers, for example, will not make a project go from taking ten weeks to one week to complete. It will not make a shitty product become 10x better. It may speed up the process a bit, but it will definitely end up developing a mediocre end product.
Team up with a great developer, designer (or professional of any type) and let it take as long as it needs to take to create a great product. Timing is just as important as creating something that people actually want.
209. Find your true “passion” by answering this one question…
What are you willing to suffer for?
I’m not exactly sure what “passion” is. All I know is that if you aren’t crazy enough about something to make huge sacrifices to pursue it, then that’s not your passion.