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Archive for the ‘Business Idea’ Category

Wherever you turn on the web these days you’re constantly hearing about the next social web 2.0 site. Whether it’s twitter, Facebook, or MySpace or the next big site or technology destined to conquer the web, everyone is after the hearts and minds of the individual trying to build the largest social network. What I’m wondering is why someone hasn’t started the MySpace or Facebook equivalent for local businesses.

Despite all of the improvements to the latest search engines, it is still very difficult to receive great results for the local companies you would normally use the phone book to find. The only way Google, Yahoo, etc. can return these results is if these business have a web site which many of them still don’t.

To solve this problem, I’m proposing a simple low cost (or free) alternative to creating a web site and that would be to create a site similar to MySpace for local business. This Local Business site would focus on what local businesses need to promote themselves; address information and maps, contact information, and coupons. It would allow ratings for services, blogging by business owners, and event information. Most importantly it would allow businesses to connect and partner with one another similar to how people connect on Facebook or Linkedin. Think about this for second. How powerful would such a feature be?

Here’s one example, I recently purchased a new gas fireplace insert. The company I purchased the fireplace from also recommend two different plumbers and a mason that I could call for estimates. Recommendations like this can be priceless to local businesses and simplify my search. This information could be readily available on the Local Business site. What if I needed a plumber and didn’t know where to look. If I go to the phone book, I just start calling people based on their ad or their business name. Wouldn’t it be better if you could look up a plumber on the Local Business site and see what other local business have partnered with them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential for such a site would be enormous especially when you factor in advertising, perhaps a Google Adwords type system built into the site. Certainly, like all social software, it’s only as good as the people (or in this case businesses) that join but I think the advantages of joining such a network would be huge for many businesses. It would also save me, and probably thousands of others, from wasting their time randomly choosing people from a phone book.

Now I just need a team, a business plan, and some funding 😉

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Four technologies that combined would make a perfect corporate intranet.

Wiki + Blog + Tags + Search = Corporate Intranet of the Future (the same might be true for Corporate Internet as well)

Is there a company that has figure out how to combine these technologies into one killer app?

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So as I was thinking about how to justify the cost of an 8GB iPhone, I started thinking about the potential of selling an advertising spot on the device. Laser etching has become quite popular and the potential to have your logo etched on a device that is sure to gather lots of looks could be enticing to some companies. From there, I started thinking about developing a business around such a market and it has had me wondering whether there is enough potential there for this to work.

What if you started a company that sold certain high tech gadgets for well below what they cost in stores by offsetting the saving by placing laser etched advertisements on the device? You could start a sort of Google Adwords for high tech gadget company selling prime real estate on laptops, phones, and other lusted after gadgets. If you could get a MacBook Pro for under $1k and it had a couple of logo’s on it, would you? I think I might and many other out there would too but the savings would have to out weigh the cost of cluttering up that nice MacBook design.

Now is there an advertising market? I think there is. I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of companies out there willing to pay decent money for a prominent spot on a device that is sure to get a lot of looks and attention. How much attention do you think the iPhone will get when it first comes out? If you had a web site that could be accessed from the iPhone would it be worth while to have your logo on the device? Perhaps. What if this person saw your logo for the life of the phone (perhaps 2 years or more) and hundreds of other people saw it as well? There is just as much value in this then there is in placing an ad on a billboard. I think if you could gather certain demographics this would be a great advertising tool. For instance, soft drink companies could place ads on any device that would be used on a college campus.

Now for this to work, I think you need a tool that would allow a person to select what the device they want to buy, the number of ads, and the size. This way, you could place just two ads on your MacBook and save some money or place several ads and save a lot of money. Advertiser would need an interface to bid based on logo size, product type, and demographics. There’s a lot of potential here and it could be a great opportunity if done right.

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Why is it that kids are so curious about everything, asking thousands of questions, and then suddenly it is lost? At what point do we stop being curious? I remember being in school and raising my hand to ask questions but I can’t put my finger on the point in time that I stopped. It wasn’t that I stopped caring. I always did well in school. What was it that made the world appear to me as it does to most adults? Where did the curiosity go and when did I start accept things as they are?

Now, as an adult, I find I have to work at questioning the world around me. The business world is full of people trying to maintain the status quo. Few of us want to take risks and try new things. We want to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them because doing something different opens us up to criticism. It can be difficult to push new ideas. Look how long it has taken blogging to catch on in the corporate environment and still thousands of companies spend millions on advertising that continues to deliver small and smaller returns while ignoring (fearing) the benefits blogging.

I’m not sure who to blame for this if anyone at all but myself. Perhaps we need to change the way our schools work or maybe we need to change our parenting styles…I know how hard it can be to keep answering the long tail of questions kids have…every adult answer seems to return another kid question…but I am certain of one thing. As my kids grow up, I’m going to be paying attention to this. I’m going to do the best I can to continue answering each and every question and do what I can to keep their curiosity alive so they can be leaders that look for an edge and embrace change. Think of the advantages this would give anyone in this world that we live in.

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Since ebooks are out of the question until their price comes down, is there any other way to easily archive text from a book in a digital format? I’m not looking to copy a whole book but I’d like to archive and tag interesting passages that could go back to at a later date. I’m thinking of something about the size of a highlighter which instead of marking up a book, has the ability to scan the bar code, page number, and then the text so that I can dump to my Mac and search it when needed. This device needs to be portable. Is there anything like this out there? Is there a market for this besides me?

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Here’s the portable device I want.

Size: Roughly the size of Sony’s Portable eBook Reader

Screen: eInk LCD – touch screen

Hardware:

  • Wifi
  • BlueTooth
  • SD Card
  • USB
  • Expansion for EVDO
  • Large flash drive

Software:

  • Light weight OS – minimal features, focused on ease of use, instant on
  • Search
  • eBook Reader
  • Email
  • iTunes
  • HTML/CSS Editor
  • FTP
  • Image Editor (Fireworks/Light-weight Photoshop)
  • Web Browser
  • Photo Viewer
  • Movie Viewer
  • Notebook – taking digital notes

Why do I want such a device?

This would replace 95% of what I need my MacBook Pro for. I’m always carrying around books to read and lately I’ve found that I’m always wanting to highlight text, bookmark pages, and make notes. This is great but unless all of this is done digitally, it is much too difficult to remember what I marked-up when and in what book. I want all of this information at my finger tips at any point in time. Now if this device also allowed me to sketch web page designs, manage web sites, and jot notes, I would buy it in a heart beat. Throw in music, video, and photos in an easy to carry form factor and I’d pay almost any price. I think a system like this could find a niche between a Palm Pilot type device (too small for my needs) and a laptop computer (too big to carry around all the time). Like I said, I’m always carrying a book around with me to read, why not carry around a small portable device that is roughly the same size but does so much more.

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