We keep an ongoing rough list of startup ideas which we think are high-potential, and for which we haven’t yet seen a compelling opportunity to invest. If you’re working on any of these ideas (or any other), consider joining us as an Entrepreneur in Residence or apply for funding.
These ideas are in no particular order. Use them at your own risk.
Founders who are seeking extra income and/or visibility can efficiently do that by productizing their knowledge. This is also a forcing function to think about key learnings and crystalize them. Specifically, you can:
- Convert your expertise into a course or an ebook. Adham Abdelfattah said, “I believe Gumroad and Teachable are the best, since they have low fees and allow the creator to own their audience relationship. The trade-off is doing your own marketing which can be time-consuming, but in itself is a learning experience. Udemy offers a platform with organic traffic, but the trade-off is you do not own your audience relationship. My recommendation there is for the founder to focus on a topic they know well, cap the investment at a week or two of time, and publish something simple and unpolished. Example: I have personally found decent success so far with a course summarizing the consulting problem-solving method which has 381 students in 44 countries so far. Another very successful example is Daniel Vassalo, who left Amazon to start a new business and is funding himself through info products.”
- Create a newsletter. Adham continues, “One can opt for an off the shelf solution like Substack, or a combination of Ghost (has an entire membership + newsletter stack). A great example of a newsletter writer in transition who succeeded is the story of Lenny’s (former Airbnb PM) Newsletter and he laid out his process here. Newsletters are also very useful for recruiting if the founder wants a job. They’re a resume with natural filters. For example, I just had an A16Z & Marc Benioff funded startup ask me to join as their CPO/COO after their founder read my newsletter. Of course, we had a lot of conversations too, but the discovery came through the newsletter.”
This particular idea is not typically going to be attractive to investors, but is a great way for you to earn short-term income.
Neutral tool for assessing all corporate financing options against both cost of capital and risk. The site would feature:
- Graphic ease-of-use of Venture Dealr or Mint
- Risk assessment similar to Stratifi (HOF Capital company)
- Covers all financing options, including but not limited to : Traditional equity venture capital and private equity, debt, merchant cash advances/factoring, Revenue-Based Finance, Recurring revenues (Capchase and Pipe), Flexible VC, Small Business Association Loans, Equity crowdfunding (e.g., Republic)
- Format of output: Very graphical with sliders, and also using the “SMART Box®” (“Straightforward Metrics Around Rate and Total Cost”), backed by the Innovative Lending Platform Association
- Business model: referral fees from financing providers, like the
Models/competitors: A number of firms offer versions of this, usually focused on a subset of financing options: Capital’s Cost of Equity estimator (probably the most ambitious); Lighter Capital’s Cost of Capital Calculator; 645 Ventures’ cap table simulator; Bootstrapp.co’s Comprehensive Cost of Capital Calculator; NoteGenie.io
There already exist numerous debt marketplaces, e.g., Nav, Primerates.com, BitX, Capx, Capital Source Group, Cerebro Capital, Corl Marketplace, Fundera, Intro by Indie.VC, GUD Capital, LenCred, Lendio, NerdWallet Small Business Loans, QuickBooks Capital, SmartBizLoans
Co-op of valuations of private companies, with cost paid pro rata by their investors and possibly the companies themselves. This could be sponsored by a valuation firm. This solves the problem of inconsistent valuations by multiple shareholders in the same firm, often holding the same security.
Action Tank. A business which helps enterprises to execute initiatives which require coordination across diverse non-employee stakeholders, e.g., make a large sale to a critical client, or lobby for a change in regulation. We want to use our proprietary technology and network to tap the relevant players to take the relevant steps forward; and identify, document, and disseminate best practices to do so. We envision this is an enterprise SaaS company with a strong consumer-facing component, initially targeting NGOs. We have a detailed business plan and sales deck we can share for this.
Shopping search engine, but only quality merchandise (e.g., has been reviewed by TheWirecutter). Amazon has so many counterfeit, low quality, and/or non-reputable brands that we hate using it unless we already know what we want to buy.
Gated Chatroulette. E.g., only people of a certain religion.
Subscription Agreements management tool. Background
Database of gated online communities. See www.community-finder.co for a version of this. We have built a proprietary version of this.
A community for current students globally planning to become founders. Student benefits: community with similar high-caliber founders, mentoring, training, 10% carry in investments they source, access to internships and jobs via our network.
General Models: the Ivies, Thiel Fellows, Rhodes, Beinecke, Gates Cambridge, Marshall, Minerva, Schwarzman, Truman, Watson
Live stream video dating for US market. Background.
A company that motivates people to do what they want to do/strengthens self-control. Example: Stickk.
Technology for religion. Details.
YC for content. Details.
Senior care center of future. Combines in-location education; an on-location kindergarten/day care; and a teaching of young kids, and one room for each decade the residents were young. E.g., a room that recreates the décor, music, furniture of the 1950s. Model: LaSelle College (Newton MA).
Carfax for homes
An expert network that takes advantage of the knowledge on individual peoples’ computers. Allow me to search thru others’ knowledge base (e.g., all of their emails), with privacy protected. Methodology: a network member gets a notification: “David is researching Norwegian oil reserves, and we see from files on your computer you’re an expert on this. Are you open to having a call with David?” A company tried this a decade ago, in partnership with our founder.
Solution for scheduling parent teacher conferences for large schools. Bronx Science, which has 3000 students, uses a completely manual solution, because they said they couldn’t find a solution to support their school.
Yelp for stock option plans. Details
Fact-based meme productions. COVID requires educating the whole country about certain behavior changes, e.g., wearing masks. Creating behavioral change is really hard; the best way to do that is for a trusted source to model. Could you use Jibjab to create messages about “Wear a mask”, “wash your hands”, etc., and then market to local opinion leaders (priests, pastors, politicians) to insert their face into those messages? The message has the production quality and evidence-based medicine of a professional Public Service Announcement, but the credibility of a local influencer. We produce high-quality, fact-based educational messages, starting with messages about how to protect yourself from COVID, e.g., this . We distribute this content to individual influencers, e.g., a doctor who’s a member of a church. The doctor uploads her face and voice to our site, and we insert her into the video. The church then distributes the video via social media. It has the production quality and evidence-based medicine of a professional Public Service Announcement, but the credibility of a local influencer. Models: Buzzworthy.com, JibJab.com, zdoggmd.com, socialnative.com (HOF Capital is an investor), contently.com (ffVC is an investor). Background.
Personal FP&A / forecasting tool: multiple account types, loans (home, auto, etc.), various equities and assets (stocks, bonds, tokens, etc.), forecasting, scenarios, and simulations. Source.