Over the past couple of weeks I created a list of products I’d like to see in the world. These ideas come from my own daily pain points, reflective business chats I’ve had with friends over coffee, or sometimes even dreams that I still remember in the morning. I was going to save this post for later but I was motivated by Fred Wilson’s recent musing about What is Going to Happen in 2015.
There is a good chance that most of these solutions already exist in the world… but I have yet to see one. I hope I’m wrong — If you know of a startup that’s currently solving a problem listed below – please tweet at me @BenHoffmanEsq with the company info.
In no particular order, here are five ideas I’d love to see in real life:
This idea has been brewing for sometime but it finally hit the tipping point when I tried sharing an awesome segment from one of my favorite podcasts, This Week in Startups, where the host, Jason Calacanis, discussed the importance of an entrepreneur’s drive and skillset in running a startup. All I wanted to do was simply tweet the audio clip, along with a visual of the words. This product would solve the problem: “Hey Ryan, check out min 22:40 to 25:15 of this episode regarding the convo we had the other day” or, “Hey @Jason, this 25s clip motivated me to finally publish this post. Thanks!” Here is my makeshift MVP – click play below:
That clip took me an embarrassingly-long time to produce and it still had shitty audio and a misspelling. Why can’t I simply click share, choose my audio/visual timestamps, click a few additional options, then syndicate on any of my networks? The above process took so long that I never made the other clips of the show that I wanted to share.
In sum, I want an app that allows me to share short-form audio or visual files from my favorite podcasts or shows. I should also be allowed to add my own commentary before and after the clip and I should be able to quickly share it via email, social (mostly twitter), or SMS. Think super lightweight, easy UX/UI, fast upload speed, with public or private settings.
NOTE: A similar idea was briefly mentioned on an early episode of the Podcast called Startups. If you haven’t heard of the Startup Podcast, I encourage you to check it out.
YouTube/ProductHunt for Musicians
Youtube comments suck and the downvoting feature is outdated / obsolete. Their community has too many trolls comprised of people from the general public – billions of viewers with no common theme tying them all together. On the opposite side of the spectrum is ProductHunt, a community of product enthusiasts, designers, developers, and entrepreneurs who support each other through upvoting and constructive feedback about new startups or products.
What I’d like to see is ProductHunt meets YouTube for the music industry. Musicians upload their video to receive feedback from the community through comments, upvotes, and categorical ratings. Each video gets rated on lyrics, vocals, instruments, sound quality, visual quality, etc. There will be no down voting or spammy / trolling / negative comments. The community of musicians and music lovers will be a positive place for artists to share their work and receive feedback. Like ProductHunt, the community is invite only.
Music on YouTube is huge. Here are the search results for ‘music’ (236M results) and ‘cover song’ (38M results):
The benefit for the musicians is akin to ProductHunt – the possibility of gaining hundreds of new fans or even the potential of being discovered as well as awesome feedback from people within your community/network. The value proposition for music lovers is a better music search engine (by tags and categories) as well as new music discovery.
Hardware: Alarm Clock Projector
I have to give credit to @allieber for articulating the product vision for this idea. One calm Friday night, we chatted about my “Time Projection Alarm Clock” that does exactly that – it projects the time on the ceiling so you can easily check the time with a brief glance.
But why stop there? I want a small, lightweight alarm clock that syncs with my phone, computer, or smart watch then projects content or apps onto my ceiling or wall. This is unlike a projector because it is smaller, more flexible, and a better all-in-one solution than what’s currently on the market. For example, this mini-projector should allow me to watch my Netflix shows on my ceiling, then easily flip the screen to my email client or even bring up a new webpage…. all from the comfort of my bed. In version 1, the screen would be controlled by your iPhone or Android. In v2, hand swipe technology or voice commands will be the main way to control the projector.
Secure, Ephemeral Email
Ephemeral messaging has proven to be an outstanding market (read: Snapchat, CyberDust, Waved). I’d like to see the concept of ephemerality & security applied to email – in short, snapchat + SSL + email. Emails sent through this service would never touch the server, they’d be sent over a secure connection, and they’d automatically delete according to the sender’s preference. The pain point here is not sexting or selfie videos, instead it’s used for situations where both sides of the communication generally trust each other and agree the email is not worth saving. The most obvious use case is business communications. We generate loads of email while at work but only a small fraction of that is actually worth saving. For example, remember the Sony email hacking incident? If those emails had self-destructing timers, much embarrassment would likely have been averted.
The key here is that the sender gets to choose how long the reader can access the email after it’s been opened – a few hours, maybe weeks, or maybe even as soon as the receiver exits the app. The sender has all the control. The receiver cannot forward the email without the sender’s permission nor can they download attachments without prior approval. In sum, this would eliminate the problem of having multiple copies of an email thread stored on multiple servers for eternity.
* Note: to prevent fraud and other situations where employees are required to maintain email records, the ephemeral policy will be set by the founders/executives of the company. These people should be smart enough to understand the laws governing their industry and will be held accountable for their email policy.
Signup Flow Like Robinhood App
Were you one of the 500,000+ people who signed up for the Robinhood app prior to their launch? If you were then you’d remember their awesome signup flow that helped them collect thousands of signups! The slideshow below shows you how Robinhood encouraged sharing – after you input your email address, they encouraged you to share your custom link in order to move up the priority line. The more of your friends that signed up, the higher you moved up in the rankings. The end goal of course is to get early access to whatever product you just signed up for (when it launches).
I want to pay for this as a SaaS offering. My friend James hacked together an awesome prototype. But the additional features I’d like to see are:
- ability for me to weight the sharing options differently. For example, if Facebook users are more valuable to me, then I reward the sharer more if they generate FB signups (rather than twitter or email).
- analytics about who shared their custom link the most, who signed up the most friends, who moved up the most spots. These are my potential power users that I might want to contact for additional feedback.
- integration with all popular landing page companies – unbounce, launchrock, marketo, etc.
- for v2, we’d add a paid version that includes business intelligence about the signups – social profiles, location, industry, job title, age, gender, etc.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Be sure to tweet at me if you know of a startup solving one of the ideas above. Also, feel free to leave a comment below – I’m curious of what other ideas you might have.