Welcome to aaron chua make money blog

Hi, welcome to my blog. In this part of my world, I talked about how to achieve financial freedom by learning how to make money online through creating sites and earning from them.

Below are some current and past make money projects that details my learning journey.

My current experiment in making 50 amazon site niches. If you have not been following this challenge, best place to start is this resource page for the amazon challenge, that lists all the articles that I have written so far.

My experiment in making 1000 a month through adsense in 9 months.

If you came here looking for low cost startup ideas, here are 140 startup ideas that you can browse through.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Startup Idea #32: Trading as casual games

This is cool. It also unlocks one missing piece in my market making strategies. What if we used this strategy for other well known markets such as carbon trading, using causal games as a bait for others to engage in market trading and building liquidity. This could be a new take on market making.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Idea generation #12: More food for thought

Embedded QR walls: Accidental capture of QR codes - implications for advertising and branding that are useful or entertaining to the users? How about streaming music if the QR code is captured in a club?

Digital recycling for charity: This is so radical.

Another killer from rebang: Selling experiences

No idea if all these means but sounds interesting. Will google all these terms and see what comes up.

Idea generation #11: Pricing social connection

This is very very interesting. Using market mechanisms to obtain social capital...LINK

Type rest of the post here

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Idea generation #10: People tag-open source social networking

Dave Winer is right. We need to have an open architecture where people can attach labels or tags to their arcs or connections with other people. Imagine De.licio.us for relationships between people.

Let's drill down a bit here to clarify my own thoughts. Imagine where I can bookmark any person I see on the web, be it through facebook, twitter, Flickr, Ning etc with a label that I can describe my relationship with him. The service will then organise and display all the tags in profile page. It will also pull in relevant content from wherever the user first tag the person.

It is still vague though. Need more thoughts here.

Type rest of the post here

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Idea generation #9: Aggregation plays

I have been trying to think of interesting aggregation plays. Here are some of my draft ideas:

- Across media aggregation for vertical: Get videos, comics, blogs, pictures from different media sites but focuses on similar topic such as a particular animation, drama or game series.

- A hype machine for flash games: To be different from Kongregate and similar competitors, we need to be think more in terms of attention allocation. What else should we aggregate beyond the content to make it easier for the users to get what they want? How about making it easier to download bundles of games to mobile devices? Or how about aggregating games that are mentioned by well known developers?

- Aggregating numbers rather than posts? How about aggregating all the forecasts made by the research companies and allow them to be compared, not only with each other but with their accuracies as well?

- Techmeme for API discussions: Programmable web is the default place for APIs but the discussion is generally dried. We need to need to aggregate conversations that have a bit of technical discussion as well as lots of ides to be more interesting. Something like this. So what kind of code we need to write to piece all this interesting conversation together?

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Idea generation #8: New forms of medium

Scribd is pioneering a new medium. See bubblegen for why it can be disruptive.

What if we extend this to other forms of medium?

Music scores

Annual reports: They are a medium to communicate corporate information. Problem is they are not readable.So, how can we leverage markets, networks or communities to make the information more transparent? More plastic? More being able to encourage conversations i.e. connect consumption

Friday, 30 November 2007

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Startup Idea #31: Toys 2.0 ideas

Stardolls is the inspiration for this toy 2.0 post. I have a few ideas on how to develop this concept.

Idea #1: This idea focuses on games and any other media that have a ready 3D model. We aim to inject plasticity into the figurines, making them customisable. The microchunks are in three forms: (i) postures of figurines, (ii) clothing of figurines and (iii) sensor of figurines.

The last point need further explanation. Imagine figures which can react by actions or voices to other figures that have a prior relationship based on their characters in the animation or games. This is interesting as we are leveraging on the social graph of virtual characters to potentially enhance the social graph of the real world users.

updated: 30 Nov 2007
Somebody is already doing (ii) above. Toys 2.0 is already on its way. The question we have to ask ourselves is why has the above not taken off? No knowledge pool? No viral economies?

updated: 12 Dec 2007
Wow, this is exactly what I was saying except that it has limited community building and customisation. As I said, toys 2.0 is coming.

Idea #2: Bundle a physical package where toys can be remixable via microchunks of their physical parts i.e. different legs, hands, weapons et al. The package should encourage users to submit pictures of their customised toys to our site where the information can be shared. We of course allow users to buy more parts to expand their customisable ability.

Idea #3: We can build a community site where users submit their creation of toys that are made of recyclable materials. See this blog for cool examples.

Idea #4: Web linked toys. See this post of an example. This post gives another perspective. Bringing physical toys with connectivity into the web.

Idea generation #6: Avatars adaptable on social behaviour

This is cool.

Type rest of the post here

Startup Idea #30: Platform for action scripts that allow physical interaction between avatars in virtual worlds

This is huge! (LINK).

What we have here is the potential to create a new form of market: Action scripts for physical interaction between avatars in virtual worlds. Such form of interaction touches the heart of social capital and leads to connected consumption in the emerging media of virtual worlds. The opportunities for new markets are mind staggering. Just consider the few ideas below:

A microplatform for users to produce their own social animation script; a marketplace for selling and trading of social animation scripts; a smart aggregator to filter the scripts; a reconstructor to rebundle the right set of scripts for different social settings; a data analytics application for the scripts.

See the opportunities yet?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Startup Idea #29:

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Startup Idea #28: E-textile market

This article talks about the e-textile and how close we are to commercialising this. If we talk the full spectrum of 2.0 models and apply them in this market, there are lots of interesting things we can do..

- a micro community with a reconstructor toolkit: give away or sell the toolkits for users to design their wearables. Have a website for these users to then display their creations as well as educate others on how to create their own wearables
- a threadless model: we fixed the perimeter of the wearable technology and let users submit their designs. We will then manufacture the most voted designs
- marketplace for programming: fixed the wearable design but let users trade the programmings that run within the wearables.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Idea generation #5: Creating new market exchanges

I post in startup idea #18 that we can provide analytics to new markets. On further reflection, that is missing the big picture. While that idea is still worth doing, the bigger value creation will come from creating new marketplaces in areas where there are strong economic gains to be realised. This site tracks such developments.

I have list some interesting markets being created:

Stickk: Marketplace for weight loss
CCE: Marketplace for carbon trading
certificateswap.com: Marketplace for exchanging gift certificates
SpotScount:Marketplace for selling and buying of temporary parking space
ParkingTicket.com: Contesting parking tickets.

Most of the above sites are not true exchanges like what we see in stock exchange. Hence, the opportunities here for new wealth creation is tremendous.

There are also untapped markets. How about the following:
cellphone numbers
journal articles
lead generation

Here is a list of interesting markets that can be developed.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Startup Idea #27:


From bubblegen in 2004 comes this insightful post that I think is still relevant today:

Death of the Sitcom
Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Bravo to film a new reality show about the making of a sitcom. What they should really do is massively distribute the search problem - air different pilots and leverage distributed prediction to more efficiently find the next great sitcom. If, that is, it exists.

I don't know whether there is such a service today but it will be a killer idea. A feedback mechanism for content providers, be they professional studios or creative, will help them tremendously in getting early reactions on their product. It also allows business intelligence to be gathered on the next potential hit.
Updated: 1 Dec 2007, 11 Dec 2007
After thinking through, I realise there are already distributed platforms. Think Youtube, Revver, MetaCafe and countless video sharing sites. The key, as I mentioned previously is to provide a coordination mechanism. We need information extraction technology here. If we can build such a technology, the next step is to have a predictive model based on these aggregated info to identify the next hit. Sort of like how Monitor110 gives user tradeable actions before the investment news hit mainstream.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Startup Idea #26: New music label

This article highlights a very interesting idea. Brand owners who own major retailing channels have the potential to become the new music labels for independent artists. What is missing to connect the two is a marketplace. In the spirit of bubblegen, we are using a marketplace to coordinate actions of parties such that it is just as efficient for an independent artist to sell through retailers as to do so through music labels.

What is needed on the supply side are hardware or software to make available their 'retailing space' for music. We create the middleware i.e. the marketplace for independent artisits to select the retailers that they wish to play their music on. Retailers can pre-screen the songs to ensure conformity with their brand before they are aired in the retailer's outlets.

On the consumer side, they have the option to instantly purchase the music they heard via their ipod or mp3 players. Alternatively, the music can be free for download if the consumer purchases certain items from the retailers.

Updated: 6 Dec 2007
This idea is not that far fetched if we use this example. It is saying: look guys, we will support your music via advertising. Is it far fetched to stretch to: hey guys, i will promote and sell your music in my store!

Startup Idea #25: Transform inefficient networks into markets: finance edition

Companies like Monitor 110 and Clearforest create content derivation applications. They rely on inferring structure from unstructured data to get investment related information. While this is a good service, users have to pay to assess them which limits the growth.

What I am proposing is an open sourced approach. We leverage on the same methodology but make the information free and build communications tools around them. Let the community discuss on our recommended actions and suggest alternatives. The service may evolve into a MySpace for the investment community.

Updated: 27 Jan 2008
A bit more strategic here. How to use the above to alter the value chain of equity research, rather than just becoming another research tool? Here is one direction.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Startup Idea #24: Comments and services

The idea stuck me while reading this
Sad to say, my queue at Netflix is empty.

Okay, so you've been reading this blog for years, you know what movies I liked, probably don't have much insight into movies I don't (hint: I like most movies).

And now that we have easy comments (thanks to Disqus), it's easy for you all to tell me what your favorite movies are.

What if the recommendations from your comments are linked to actual services. Say, if I receive recommendations for a movie title, can I order immediately from NetFlix? In order words, can I mash the APIs for a comment system like Disque with the API from Amazon or Netflix to give you services when you are most likely to purchase it?

The idea goes beyond the simple mashup application scenario. If services are decoupled from their destinations and flow to where they are likely to be purchased, it makes a very powerful way of doing ecommerce. Can we accomplish this?

Updated: 1 Dec 2007
Facebook's Beacon is sort of what I am suggesting (see this post). The difference is that while Facebook's system is closed, our system will be open which is a huge strategic advantage.

Startup Idea #23: Game models

Updated 29 Dec 2007
Why are we not seeing the various interesting business models and innovation happening in music being applied in the games industry? This means a ripe area of startups.

One I can think of straight away is the network model such as Lala.com. We can offer an upfront small payment to game developers to convince them to release their games for free on our network. We then ride on other sources of revenue to recover our costs. These sources include: figurine printing, merchandise, mobile wallpapers, et al. The value add is inter-connect all these different sources of revenue into a one click software.

Updated 12 Dec 2007;
Dropped the previous idea as I found out there are already existing services out there, specifically brandpulse and blogpulse.

Startup Idea #22: Cleaning contact database using social software

Most companies have problem maintaining a reliable and accurate contact management list. People move on, got promoted, migirated, change industries et al. It is difficult for any one company to keep track of all these changes without changing substantial resources.

My idea is to rely on social profiles such as those found in LinkedIn, Facebook et al to help companies automatically 'clean' their databases. Our software will match contacts in any contact management software with social profiles. Once the software detect any changes to these profiles, it will automatically change the information in the contact database.

The key challenges in this idea are: integration with various contact management software, powerful people matching engines (we can rely on the many people search engines that have surfaced such as Spock as well as those found in social network). Not easy challenges but not impossible. Worth a shot.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Startup Idea #21: Network for fashion estores

Update 18 March 2008

Create a network among independent fashion houses to cross sell products in their blogs or websites. In this network, whatever blog/site sends a lead to the seller, it will receive a part of the sales proceeds if the sales is made. In this way, the network effects can be multiplied across the independent fashion houses.

For the consumer, it means being able to view a wider range of items across the networks, rather than having to go to individuals sites. Hence, we are allocating the attention of the user efficiently through this network model.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Startup Idea # 20: Decentralised attention market for news

Updated: 19 Feb 2008

Took away the previous idea of using clickstreams as inputs to attention markets.

Dave of scripting.com posted a great idea: making a tool that allows community to start their Digg clone as easily as starting a website. My view is that it would be more viral if the there are 2 other components:

i) making a digg widget so that this function can be part of the current community, rather than having to start another new site, which is what a lot of Digg-maker is doing
ii) allows webmaster to appoint people who can submit articles. These will be the editors of the community-specific digg
iii) allows customisation of style sheets. very important for integration into current sites

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Startup Idea #19: Recommendation 2.0: scenario based recommendation for fashion

Current fashion discovery sites oriented toward searching based on concrete attributes of the product (e.g. price, color) or the user (as in Collaborative Filtering). Such orientation completely ignores the scenario of where the clothings will be displayed, the overall fit of the clothing as well as the current items owned by the user. In reality however, users do consider such factors in making purchase decisions.

The idea here is to design an online fashion site that incorporates these factors in its product recommendation system. We will surround this site with game like mechanisms to make it sticky.

Updated: 20 Nov 2007
Why is this idea powerful. It represents a new class of reconstuctor. As mentioned in bubblegen, the ability to rebundle objects create more value because it reduce transactional cost for consumers.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Startup Idea #18: Information intermediaries for new emerging market (tickets, sports)

The technology of the digital age is driving an unprecedented explosion in the ability to create markets in anything. Trade anything. Not just physical goods. Not just financial instruments. But ideas. Events. Outcomes.

The emergence of these kinds of markets will -over time - impact how we view and interact with the world in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. They will fundamentally alter the current world economic and social paradigm.

With the emergence of a market-like system in traditional closed industries, there is a need for information intermediaries that help to make the markets more transparent, more . Think of how the financial markets have spawned innovative research services like research recap, monitor 110

The current emerging markets in my radar are: tickets for events, sports, digital media, online advertising, lead generation and mostly interesting, human talent. The examples of services you can built for say a sports market include:

- blog aggregation: smart aggregation of research oriented blogs with tabs for different types of information (research recap). For sports, this will be blogs that cover player and game statistics, manager strategies et al. We can combine this with the Techmeme model to allow users to read the conversations in addition to the blog posts. See here for a list of such blogs.

- extraction of information from unstructured date i.e. blogs, forums, messaging boards etc: to surface actionable trading ideas (monitor101) from the mountain of untamed data in the web.

- last.fmm model to marry implicit data collection with recommendation services. For sports, this will allow users to find people with similar club/player interests, what they are betting on, et al.

- distribution platform: distribute exisiting aggregated information to different delivery channels i.e. RSS, email, twitter, instant messaging, social feeds et al. This idea differs from the first by focusing on the unbundling and rebundling of aggregated content from channels, rather than on the unbundling and rebundling of content from sources.

- panel forecast (Comscore model): create a large enough userbase to divine outcomes and sell that information.

- blogging platform: the typepad of investment blogging. Come with analytics, market data, and whatever information the blogger needs to do his work. Ad supported of course.

The possibilities are ming boggling.

Updated: 23 Feb 2008
My first idea is to create a reuters for virtual item trading market. See this article

Startup Idea #17: Arbitrage selling through via live video

Even with ecommerce taking off, there are still many items that require a local presence for purchase. Paintings by local artists is one example. We see many independent artists, especially in the Asia where their paintings are not available online.

A business can be built by using Justin.TV style of service to serve buyers. We can arrange for a virtual shopping session where live video will be stream and broadcast to buyers on the products they are otherwise unable to purchase. For example, we can arrange for a video session to visit painting galleries or roadside stalls where buyers can make their purchase of paintings via telecommunications.All videos will be made available online for buyers who are unable to attend the live sessions.

Updated: 5th Nov
As an extension to this idea, we will build a platform that allows other people to create their live 'shopping channel'. Think how Ebay enables the creation of numerous sell side business and you will have an idea of how this platform can enable many individual businesses to arise. Our own channel just serves as an example of how such a business can be run. The opportunity comes when other users join in the fun.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Startup Idea #16: Brands sponsored widgets

Updated: 30 Nov 2007
Cleared the previous idea on last.fm for micro learning since I could not figure out how that is different from having a personalised or 'branded' RSS feed.

Create a marketplace for brands to sponsor widgets on social profiles. Users can to choose which widgets they prefer. No advertisement here. The interaction of the user with the brand sponsored widget IS the advertisement.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Startup Idea#15: Last.fm for stock picks

Updated: 27 Dec 2007
This idea takes the lastfm approach of utilizing "web 2.0" technologies to deliver insights to stock picking. The idea is to collect and analyse stock investment among social groups, communities et al.

Examples of benefits include:
- seeing all the stock investments by your friends in an aggregated and structured way?
- seeing all the people with the same investment style as the user? and to compare which potential stock investments can lead to the most reward?
- seeing the stock related news that your friends/groups are reading?
- seeing the most common route about the level of risk/returns that that I really want? What do people invest to achieve that level

Now imagine you layer on even more interesting data, especially with job boards. For example, once you have determined the career path to follow, our service will recommend, similar to how Lastfm works, the set of jobs that will start you on this path.

The important thing is to get the structure and presentation down, which means we would have a pretty valuable asset on your hands--a kind of "last.fm for stock investment".

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Startup Idea #14: Virtual currency in real world enterprise solutions

A lot of business efforts have been focused on using real world currency on virtual world items or actions. However, the reverse of using virtual currency on real world actions might also offer business ideas. One such opportunity is in the enterprise space. I can imagine, for example, using virtual currencies in a staff reward system. There are a few companies that employ instant rewards to employees for well accomplished jobs. A virtual currency system can be implemented to let managers give out such rewards in a more timely manner. Employees can then redeem these currencies for real financial gains at the end of financial year. The advantages of such a system is that virtual currencies relieve HR of the complications of financial administration and at the same time provide timely motivation incentives.

Beyond HR systems, virtual currencies can be used where there is a need to allocate resources. These resources can be physical i.e. conference rooms, contract staff or virtual such as employees' attention i.e. emails, meetings. There is definitely much room to explore here.

Updated: 24 Nov 2007
What we are doing is introducing economic efficiency into an otherwise inefficient market i.e. the firm. If we frame our thinking in this way, we can actually do a lot with the idea here.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Startup Idea#13: Open source CAD

Provide an open source CAD. Autodesk, the market leader in 3D CAD, commands over a billion in revenue. If we change the model of the industry, similar to what MySQL did for the database industry, we can potentially disrupt the entire CAD market.

See article for related thoughts


Updated: 26 Feb 2008
See this link for the most pirated software. Signals the pent up demand for an open source CAD system.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Startup Idea #12: Branding 2.0

Updated: 4 March 2008

Will unite the startup idea#12 and startup ideas#16 under the umbrella of branding 2.0 since they are different possibilities of dominant design

Branding is this age of cheap interaction and coordination, is about enabling true conversations to take place between companies and users. It is about making advertising more useful to the users. In this prosumer generation, brands must engage consumers by giving them a playground for them to remix, to recreate, to build upon, to improve, to personalise the products as how they see it. It is letting consumers decide what is important to them and what they would like the companies to do to serve them better.

The opportunity here is to create a dominant design of how such interaction/coordination will look and feel. Below are several ideas:

Blog aggregation for remixed brands:
A mix of squidoo/wikipedia et al where each brand has its own page, filled with examples of how users have remix the brand. It is a form of blog aggregation, but focusing on collecting content about brands being remixed. See this blog, Counterfeit Chic, for great examples. We will then take the outside.in approach of bundling each brands under a category like fashion and send them as RSS feeds.

There are a couple of revenue models. One is to develop a marketplace for these consumer generated brands like etsy.
The other is have an aggregated 'industry' page, filled with individual brands of the same industry. Companies then compete, in an auction like marketplace, for the rights to communicate at the 'industry' page level.

Brand sponsored widgets: (See startup idea #16; link above)

Conversation tracker:
Develop an application that allows companies to track conversations in the blogosphere that relates to the company's products. These conversations can be converted into emails, sms et al that allows managers to respond and have a true conversation with the users.

An useful article talking about the market for 'self-made' items.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Startup Idea#11: Reconstructor for lacking content in search log analysis

Updated: 22 Nov 2007
Completely dropped the previous idea as it is not interesting enough on a strategic and economic level. The replacement idea is this: to have a last.fm type of application to automatically that plugs the gaps as revealed by search log analysis.
(See blog post here for how useful search log analysis can be)

Current search log analysis tells you what is missing in your content, what is the content needed to fulfill the long tail of search queries et al. The greater value is when the application can immediately suggest sources of content to plug the gap. This form of reconstruction has result in tremenduous value creation

Dropped Idea
This idea links up the growing popularity of virtual worlds (see cyworld, club penginue, world of warcraft) with real world chores. A simple virtual world can be created where children gain points and powers, not through accomplishing virtual tasks, but completing tasks in the real world.

Parents can assign tasks to the children in the areas of household chores, learning activities or physical exercises, who can complete them in exchange for points. These points can then be redeemed by the children in the game for points or powers in the virtual game. Parents will prepay the points in the game.

Alternatively, physical world rewards can be used to replacement the virtual worlds. The site can be tied to ecommence sites where children can preselect the gifts they want to redeem. The site then takes a commission for every item redeemed.

As a product expansion, such an idea can be extended to adults. Wifes can set up items to be completed for husbands who will receive gifts for finishing the tasks

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Idea Generation #4: Web as a banking platform

Making the web into a banking platform (whether they like it or not)

Last week, my company, Wesabe (which makes a personal finance community site), launched a REST API that allows anyone to get their bank or credit card data in XML, Excel, CSV, or a bunch of standard financial formats. Tonight, we launched an open source Firefox extension that allows anyone to automatically extract data from their bank every night, and upload it to Wesabe, regardless of whether their bank provides automatic download or not. Both of these features work for any bank in any country, as long as they support one of our export formats (OFX, QFX, QIF, OFC, Quicken, Money, and a few others coming soon). Data in, data out, free and easy.

There's a basic Web 2.0 story here, which is simply that opening up APIs and embracing the web as a platform is a great way to empower the people using your service. It's been amazing to me to see one developer after another approach us about using the API, even in its early form. But, while obviously I'm totally biased, I think think there's a deeper story here, too, and I thought it would be worth calling out some of the things that make the Wesabe API and Firefox extension releases different and interesting.

First, we've gotten a lot of interest in the Wesabe API in large part because the bank and credit card industries are so tight-fisted with their data. This is why I called my blog post on the API release, "Your bank has a REST API now (shhh! — don’t tell them)." Other companies have done well with their APIs by owning a large set of data and letting people at it through the web; we're doing well by liberating data from the Phantom Zone of the bank web sites, and making it available to the people who already own it -- the banks' customers. It's easy for us to offer value to our API users since the companies that currently store financial data do such a fantastic job of putting up barbed wire around it, in the form of archive access fees, download fees, obsolete data formats, and just plain bad programming. Making all of that data available, consistent, and free is value enough.

Second, we've taken a data model from the financial services world and flipped it on its head -- fighting fire with fire, you could say. In the world of credit reporting, creditors voluntarily report on their experiences with consumers to centralized credit bureaus, and these credit bureaus providing ratings of each consumer, to let other creditors know whether that consumer is a good or bad credit risk for their money. We do exactly the same thing, but in reverse. Consumers voluntarily report on their experiences (using the Firefox extension and other tools) with merchants to us, and then we publish ratings of each merchant to let other consumers know whether that merchant is a good or bad value risk for their money. People like to talk about the web providing individuals with more power through collective knowledge, but I think this is one of the best, concrete examples of how that story could really work.

Third, it matters a lot less to us that you use our web site than that you use our API. We know that there are plenty of people who prefer to manage their money in Excel than any other way, which is why Excel is one of the formats our API provides. We think the best way for us to provide value is not to reimplement Excel, but instead to collect the most transaction data and put that data to work for consumers, as described above. Instead of just thinking of this as software above the level of a single device, we're thinking of the Wesabe database as valuable to all of our members whether they ever visit our web site or not.

Finally, by using Firefox as an automation engine, we're avoiding the trap of paying for basic data aggregation, and instead building community tools to make data accumulation a free outgrowth of joining the site. Where Web 1.0 companies would pay some enterprise service for each sync of data, we're using a community-driven approach to make data download fast and easy for everyone -- for free, which lets us provide open APIs and other features, unencumbered.
None of these approaches are unique, but taken together, they offer a lot. The financial services industry has relied on data being hard to get, to bring you back to them for information, and to make it easier to change the fees that make up so much of their revenue. Their web sites, while popular for bill pay and balance checking, certainly reflect a deep reluctance to have anything to do with the web and its users. Exploiting that reluctance is a great model for startups to pursue.

It's fun for me to see other startups going down a similar path in other industries. For instance, Get Satisfaction seems to be taking a related approach with customer service, another industry with a SuperMax approach to data. Free the data and flip the model, and you can make even the stodgiest industry into a web platform participant -- whether they like it or not.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Startup #10: Personalised Brouchures

Online advertising is personalised and targeted (Adsense). The idea is to build such a system for direct mail brouchures, which currently is mass produced. The current technology infrastructure allows such a system to be constructed. The components of this system conmprise:

i) Build a digital library of assets to create thousands of versions of the brouche for the same company. This library can be built up either through offshore outsourcing or through automated software.

ii)Using data about consumers and computer algorithms, the server will allocate the relevant advertising message to be printed at the brouchures to every person.

iii) A printing system that can print individual brouchures that is economical. Companies like Moo have proved that such a printing system is feasible.

More simply put, the goal is to transform advertising from mass messages that people ignore into personalized messages for each potential customer.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Startup idea #9: Next google

Updated 7th March 2008
Too similar to the first idea for toys 2.0 so decided it.

This is a great idea. As content distribution convergences and users view content on multiple devices, the application or devices or pipes that sits on top on all these distribution have the potential to be come the next Google.

Updated 10th March 2008

A list of companies already doing this:
Project Rialto,
Front Porch

Startup idea #8: Market exchange for media and other service/products

Updated: 30 Nov 2007: Scrapped the previous idea and have replaced it with this one.

This idea is about defining new market exchanges between media producers and producers of other services/products. Some recent examples of startups in this area includes:

Firepoll: free iTunes, ringtones etc in exchange for taking surveys
Mochilia: free mangazine/newspaper content for bloggers in exchange for advertisements
BrightSpot Media: free movie rental from BlockBuster in exchange for viewing advertisements.

What we can do to one up these examples is to further notion of markets. These startups do not provide coordination mechanism i.e. price, liquidity or information transparency etc. All these are vital points for us to hit.

As an illustration, let's take price. By simply doing a model where users decide on the number of say polls or surveys they want to take in exchange for a free movie etc, the implicit price will immediately inform us about aggregate market preference. What we can do with this information is nothing short of revolutionary. More to come...

Startup Idea #7:Platform for user generation enterprise applications that goes beyond APIs and includes RFID, GPS

Mash ups in the consumer and enterprise space are now common. Most them, however have focused on using APIs as the 'ingredients' in creating applications. A future extension, and one that would definitely yield more interesting applications, is to go beyond APIs and include more technology blocks such as GPS, RFID, sensors et al. A platform that allows users to simply mash these technologies with web APIs would be interesting to say the least

There are a couple of resources here that talk about enterprise mashups. While the focus is in mashing up web servcices or data, we can see that there is definitely potential for mashing up the above with additional technology pieces. A mash up for example that take sales data and GPS data on their customers would give marketing managers a useful application for tracking the relationship between sales generation and customer movement.



Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Startup idea #6: Superdistribution for mobile content

Here is a concept that I think is on the brink of taking off: superdistribution. Applying this to mobile content gives a whole new meaning to word of mouth marketing. The problems needed to solve is still cost: cost of uploading and downloading cotent over the network.

Mixercast is an example of how superdistribution can work in the online world. Mobile is another matter. I am currently working on a peer to peer platform but have not found the answer to the cost problem.

Need more research here.

Updated 7th Nov: No progress has been made on this idea. Something is holding back the realisation of this idea which I wonder if it is the reason I mentioned above. Recent example of startups trying this includes Tamago as well as established music labels such as Sony.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Startup Idea #5: Ad-supported blogs for comics

Updated 7 March 2008

Discarded the previous idea on product placement in comics (too small a market and leverages no edge competencies)

To reinvent the comic value chain, it is better to engineer it using markets, networks or communities. Similar to RCRDLBL, an ad-supported network can be created to support blogs of comic creators. With such a network in place, we can do some pretty cool things like:

i) smart aggregator i.e aggregates content and filters it to drive content novelty to users
ii) reverse syndicate i.e. allow aggregated content to be syndicated out to individual blogs
iii) create a new form of mediation/sociality that builds on micro comics?

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Idea Generation #3

Found a list of 50 business ideas by a VC. For reference. LINK

Type rest of the post here

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Startup idea #4: Platform for developing location based games

I have been spending the past week touring the west coast of US and meeting some interesting companies and VCs. As non-disclosure agreements, I of course cannot discuss anything about them in public. However, they have stimulated more ideas which I will be putting them here in the coming days.

Location based games are coming more and more prominent. The issue is that they are usually one off event. The idea here is to develop a game development platform where users can easily create their very own location based games using simple rules and markers. The game, when completed, can then be sent to their friends for playing. Advertisers or advertising agencies can also use this platform to easily develop their games to promote their products or brands.

I foresee the platform to have an interface that is similar to google maps. Instead of tagging information, the tools will be used for developing the game. There will be a mobile engine that will take the the finished game to the mobile devices.

Updated 23 Nov 2007:
What is missing here are the microchunk elements. How to make the platform such that it allows microchunking to happen? Is it to share codes? character designs? music? If i can figure the microchunk elements for a game platform, I think the potential for exploitation is huge.

Updated: 5th Nov
I just know of a platform called 'where' which allows location based applications to be built on top of it. I wonder if this platform can be used for the game engine I mentioned earlier this year.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Idea Generation #2: Startup Ideas from other blogs

Found some startup ideas today while browsing the web Throught I put it here for refernce. (original post link)

There are way too many Web 2.0 companies out there. Some provide useful services, like Flickr or YouTube, but some are simply copycats, badly executed unoriginal ideas. The Web 2.0 bubble seems to be, thankfully, deflating now, with some companies already going out of business as they realise that Web 2.0 is not magic and if you just offer free services, then, well, there’s no money in that.

Here’s a list of Web 2.0 business ideas. Five of them. Hopefully these will inspire people to try something new and interesting and maybe some of these will turn out to be viable business ideas.

#1. Shortn

If you’re like me, then you read Digg and Slashdot, you surf del.icio.us and reddit and a whole bunch of blogs. Each Digg story is basically a link to some longer story somewhere and a quick introduction meant to draw the reader in. Do stories like this look familiar?

Joystiq takes the Inquirer to task over their recent article about the PS3 being “slow and broken.”

Okay, so, what’s wrong with the introduction and how can we improve it? If you’re interested in that article, then what do you want from it? Facts, right? Quick access to the list of facts presented by Joystiq in support of the PS3. Shortn would, in essence, be a community-edited article distillation service. Goes something like this:

Someone submits an URL.
Someone submits an informative “executive summary” of the article behind the URL.
Competing summaries are voted on by the community.
The best summary for any URL is made available through the Shortn API and on the Shortn website.
We are living in all kinds of noise and people who write 2000-word articles to hide a 2-sentence point in a pile of smart-sounding fluff are simply evil. There are dozens of articles each day that we’d like to read, but don’t have the time for. A community that creates informative summaries of each article would be a great timesaver.

#2. MetaSwarm

Do you like early rockabilly music? What about squid? Ever eaten any? Everyone knows the films of Darren Aronofsky, but ever seen anything by Mikael Håfström? There’s a lot we would probably like if we were exposed to it.

And there are a lot of things out there looking for an audience.

MetaSwarm would essentially be a meta-Web 2.0 community. People sign up and get to betatest new Web 2.0 services still half way in development. Web 2.0 service builders get betatesters and early content producers. With, perhaps, awards for most useful bug reports and such.

#3. AcidR

We have picture-sharing communities, video-sharing communities, football-experience-sharing communities, car-experience-sharing communities, and so on…

How about also sharing drug experiences? Describe your wildest trips. Post pictures of yourself high on all substances known to man. Rate your experiences with different drugs. Have others rate your trip stories. Had a bad trip? Share it with everyone else! At the end of the day, we can produce charts showing which drugs are the most popular and which produce the best experiences. Yay!

#4. Jizzr

Let’s face it. Most community-driven Web 2.0 services utilising AJAX and XML and whatever the fuck is hot right now are simply old classics like ratemypoo in new clothing. You have an “attention economy”. A good example is DeviantArt. Look at some work of art and add it to your list of favourites. Then, 90% of the time, the artist will look at your profile and your art, and leave you a comment saying “thanks for the fav!”

Web 2.0 services shouldn’t be some high-brow elitist movement. Stuff like ratemypoo needs AJAX too. You need to enable the community and stuff. Besides, consider if a jizz rating community becomes popular enough. “Honey, this splat here is shaped like Australia! Don’t move, I’ll get my camera!”

Bah, noone appreciates genius these days

#5. MetaCompany

Back to serious business now.

MetaCompany is an online community website that lets your build your business right there on the web. TopCoder and eLance already provide employment services. You can find professionals willing to do stuff for you on there. Now, combine this with the possibilities of online project management and collaboration environments like Basecamp. Then consider this scenario.

You need a quick website made for whatever purpose.
You log on to MetaCompany.
On MetaCompany you write a short description of the website and use it to hire a programmer and a designer.
You write the text that will be the content of the resulting website.
The programmer you hired uses the MetaCompany versioning server to store the code and to generate daily or weekly reports.
When you’re done with the web page, you can hire a sysadmin via MetaCompany to set the site up or you can do it yourself by finding a hosting company via MetaCompany.
Project finished!
MetaCompany is all about bringing people and companies together to provide a one-stop source for entrepreneurs.

Need a poster designed for an event? Hire a freelance designer via MetaCompany. Want to make a game and later sell it to a publisher? Find freelance coders, artists, and sound people on MetaCompany, manage everything online. Want peformers for a concert? Find bands in your area and listen to their CC-licensed tracks online.

It’s all about enabling people.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Startup Idea #3: Community driven ads

Updated: 30 Nov 2007

The previous idea of user generated ads is replaced with this more thought out piece. Basically, the entire idea is stolen from here. But hey, since nobody I know is doing anything about it (except maybe for the Youtube-adsense integration thing). Why not try something?

What I would like to add is this: rather than just releasing ads onto a server as suggested in the post, I would built a Getsatisfaction model. This means communities can be built around particular brands or companies, rather than just asking users to produce ads without a anchor point to build network effects from.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Idea Generation #1: Future of Social Networks

As I was writing this blog, I realise some of my thoughts are not even ideas, but grounds for future ideas to germinate. Hence, I am decided to create a new cateogry called idea generation where I collect materials from the web and post them here. The aim is to stimulate further thoughts on the subject. Ultimately, this should lead to more innovative ideas.

Startup idea #2: Search applications

This idea was inspired by an Business 2.0 article I read a few months backon search applications (read article here). While the article highlights the opportunites in improving search without coming up with a better algorithm, it tiggers something related in my mind.

There are now hundreds of search engines as well as search functions with all sites including ebay and amazon. What applications can be built on top of these results queries? In my mind, there may be a market for a new Nielson. What Nielson has done for traditional media, this new company should provide in the new media space. How is your product doing in Ebay? What prices are being transacted? Did it get positive mentions in Digg? Was the product site heavily tagged in De.Lic.Ous? How many sites have mentioned your product as determined by Google?

These are all questions waiting to be answered. It needs only somebody with a hell of engineering skill to link it all up andprofit from it.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Startup Idea #1: Asean Facebook - Opportunities and Issues

Facebook clones are a dime a dozen. Yet, the concept is too compelling for me to resist taking a crack at differentiating the product.

While there are many facebook clones in some countries, I have not seen the Facebook concept being applied across different cultures with different languages.

The aims of this post is to document my thoughts on how to differentiate the current Facebook model and features with Asean context. The opportunity here, to me, is to provide a compelling feature that takes into account the fact the Asean countries, excluding Singapore, are generally poor with limited career opportunities for graduating students. If students in these countries can be tied with opportunities in Singapore via the site, there is an angel there that I think can be exploit.


Resources: Current Facebook Clones
-Germany: http://www.studivz.net/
-Australia: http://www.studentface.com.au/auth

Updates: 18 April 2007

Upon further thinking, I think there are 2 potential projects embedded with this idea.

The first project is to be a http://www.match.com/ or http://www.jobster.com/ that specialises in matching students from ASEAN to companies in Singapore that requires their services. The Singapore companies might view them as cheaper labor or they might require them for overseas expansion.

Value added services for this will then include things like linking successful overseas applicants with quick and easy clearance of legal requirements such as permits et al. The features should have things that current job listing sites lack. A social networking feature can also be integrated to help overseas students adjust to Singapore culture.

The revenue will not be based solely on successful matching. The travel commission the site can earn is a good potential cash cow.

The second project will be more similar to facebook. The new feature will be a multi-language translator that allows students from different parts of ASEAN to network. A Thai student for instance will input as Thai but a Malaysian will see the output as Malaysian. All these automated via IP addresses.

Introduction to my startup ideas

This blog is started to track my thoughts on startup ideas.

I believe that ideas, when first conceived, are not the best candidates for startups. However, over time, I discover that through refinement and continuous integration of new thoughts, ideas become more viable and in the worse scenarios, become complete duds.

So, this blog serves as a mechanism to help myself refine ideas. Comments are welcome.