The first challenge any founder will face is deciding exactly what to build. Some of us feel overwhelmed by the endless possibilities, whilst others struggle to think of any ideas at all.
You could have all the talent and expertise in the world, but without that initial spark of inspiration you may never get off the starting line.
If you're struggling to think of how or where you'd like to apply your talents, then worry not! We've got a backlog full of ideas and don't want to see them go to waste 🤓. We're creating HackerStash to help kickstart an entrepreneurial revolution that will help the world economy recover from COVID-19, and if giving away a few ideas sparks a new business than we'll be a happy team indeed.
What follows are 7 ideas that we genuinely think are worth a try. Some are tried and tested, but ripe for further disruption, whilst others are very novel and will require real breakthroughs to make them succeed. If you want to talk about any of the ideas please don't hesitate to contact us using the email address email@example.com.
A VR Office For The Future Of Work
As the whole world continues to move online, the one thing that is noticeably missing is a quality simulation of the office environment in VR. Imagine a product that lets you create a custom office for your remote team to meet in throughout the day, different rooms, spaces etc with no limits on the luxuries you can include. Not to mention the clear opportunities of being in VR e.g. pop out and fly some planes around your virtual environment at lunch with your colleagues, or zoom out and get a quick birds eye view of where all your colleagues are in the office. The opportunities are as limitless as VR itself, as is the potential for a breakout product in this space.
The Bi-directional Linking Feature
Roam Research is blowing up, and not without good cause - it's an amazing tool with a passionate team. The core concept is that you should be able to seamlessly create two-way links between pieces of information, and optionally explore it as a graph view to see the relationships between information and ideas. There's a lot more to it than that, I'd suggest you do see it for yourself.
That said, frankly it's way too rich and complex feature-wise to go mainstream any time soon, it's truly one of the most baffling apps to use as a first-timer - but it needn't be! If you could make an alternative to Roam that focused exclusively on bidirectional linking, a graph view of pages, and made it look/feel more like a standard text-editor, you could hit the jackpot. There are other apps in this space too, so you'd want Notion-level UX to really make your mark, but perhaps it's worth thinking more broadly: what could bi-directional linking mean for other tools and services you use?
A Local Currency Framework
Just before the world went crazy for cryptocurrency and the blockchain, there was a burgeoning movement of local currencies e.g. the bristol pound. These seem to have fallen by the wayside somewhat, and they were also hampered by the fact they were not truly technology-enabled. Each initiative was starting from scratch with nothing more than a bit of shared guidance or some wiki pages to support them.
However, we think people are missing a big opportunity to digitise this concept. Think of a framework that any community can use to launch their own local currency with just a few clicks, but with the added benefits that the blockchain could now bring! It's a powerful concept, and just as the last wave of localised currencies was born in the aftermath of the great recession, so too will the post-COVID-19 economic fallout present new opportunities.
An E-Learning Platform Leveraging The Open Web
E-learning had a moment a few years back, and there are still a bunch of teams working on the topic, all the more so with coronavirus forcing people to study from home!
The trouble is, they rely too heavily on bespoke content, which leads to endless reinventing of the wheel on a finite array of topics. Additionally, because they're heavily driven by profit and the need to offer a return to investors that went all-in a few years back, you end up with 100's of courses primarily aimed at business (so they can help level-up their employees). It doesn't really benefit the broader world outside of corporate environments and tech companies. Naturally this is not the case for all e-learning initiatives, but it's often only viable for those companies looking to service businesses.
So where are the underlying opportunities in e-learning? We'd like to point to the fact that there are already many incredible sources of content out there that are open to everyone, and could be deeply valuable if put to the right use. One idea might be to create a tool that allows anyone to build lessons by pulling content from sources like Wikipedia, Youtube, and TED (for example). They would be more like 'learning pathways' whereby you are guided through existing content around the web as you build your knowledge, and you can make quizzes for your courses that allow you to test what people have learned (structured questions only, no free-text, so you don't have to grade them!).
Why is this such a great idea? Well, when anyone can create courses and content it's much more equitable, and provided there is a rock-solid rating system, the quality content will naturally rise to the top. If you're a professional trainer who wants to share your latest course on the origins of artificial intelligence then great, but likewise if you're a railway enthusiast you can make a course on steam engines for beginners too - there are no barriers to entry and that's immensely powerful.
Most of us still agree that great journalism matters, but what do you do when you come across a truly memorable piece of writing?
Once upon a time we might have cut it from the newspaper, or taken notes that would inform my thinking at a later date. Nowadays we might quickly share it on social media, or dump it in pocket or notion, realistically never to be seen again.
There's something tragic and dangerous about the way we've begun to see the written word, and the ideas or information that it conveys, as so transient and disposable. So what can we do for a world in which 99% the written words we consume are online?
Here's an idea, how about a browser plugin and/or service that, when clicked, automatically prints an article for you, binds it in a nice cover, and posts it to you for your bookshelf or to share with others? We can't speak to the legality of this idea 😅, but you'd essentially be charging people for printing and postage, with a small markup, or just having them subscribe to use your widget rather than directly for the value of the journalism (so there are loopholes!).
I'm not the first person to think of this idea, but it's yet to be realised as a product. There are many people who don't own a printer anymore who want elegant real-world copies of the quality writing they consume online.
Here's another idea in the category of media and journalism, it's a space is desperate need of help and innovation after all.
Some of you probably remember Summly, a great algorithmic article condenser that made teenage founder Nick D'Aloisio a millionaire when it was acquired by Yahoo in 2013? Well, we think that idea is most certainly not dead.
It was awesome the way Summly built micro articles from longer text, but what about something even more 'to the point'? We'd love a service that took articles from our favourite news sources (or any URL dropped into the app) and provided a bullet point list of the important points the article was making.
We toyed around with this a few years back and considered buying the domain tldr.press but other projects caught my eye and also now (sadly, that URL is gone too!). The idea still has legs, especially for breaking news/current affairs style journalism which is often full of fluff and nonsense to make it seem like a full article when really there are only a handful of valuable points!
A Technology Enabled Life Coach
There's been a huge uptick in (real world) Life Coaching services in the last few years. More and more people are accessing professional coaches, and plenty of people are switching careers to work in this space. That said, there are numerous problems that the the right technology could solve: life coaches are expensive, they're rarely available when you need them, keeping appointments sucks, it's hard for coaches to proactively help you build new habits.
So what if we could create a digital life coach? Human-supported, and always with you at your time of need, to prompt you to form new habits, to help you track them etc.
Using technology could help you scale life coaching into a huge business proposition whilst being incredibly rewarding to work on.
That's it! Naturally not all these ideas will appeal to everyone, but even if they don't, we hope that they get your creative juices flowing 😊.
Finding an idea that really resonates with you is invaluable because starting a business is hard. During the immense challenges that lay ahead you'll rely on the belief you have in your product to help you keep going and achieve you goals.