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.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Idea generation #42: Information gap in healthcare, mapvertising opportunity, connecting fans through tangible interface

Information gap in healthcare: This is great series of NYtimes articles examining the lack of evidence-based choice of treatment. One particular article on hip replacement pointed to the lack of a national database as the cause of rising problem of faulty replacements. The database acts as a early detection system for unproven products and missing such a system severely handicaps the abilities of doctors to know what works and what not.

A 2.0 solution is to create a community where users can input their conditions after certain medical treatment. The community can be seeded with opinions already existing in message boards and other communities. With such a community in place, the information it produces can be used by healthcare practitioners in general.

Mapvertising opportunity: I wonder if it is possible to create a plug-in where google map users can specific their map 'ad inventory'. An ad network can then pick up these inventory for processing and ad targeting. An adsense for maps. Worth a thought.

Tangible interface: This is cool idea! Embedding online media through a card interface is brillant. Imagine if we layer an authoring layer on top of this where fans can create, remix, mash and combine such cards for their favourite bands, artists, designers, celebrities, anime, game characters et al, we are enabling a new way for fans to connect to each other. If all these can be massively distributed through widgets at social networks, we might be able to give companies like Moo Cards a run for their money.

Startup Idea #78: Small idea-Marketplace for websites

This NYtimes article on flipping websites inspire a thought: if websites are becoming more like virtual properties, what startup ideas we can employ from the real estate properties?

Search Engine: If more and more people are selling their sites, there will be a need for an Indeed equivalent to help users find the best deal.

Pricing: Liquidity is going be important in a young market like this. Hence, there is an opportunity to create a Zillow for pricing websites. Alternatively, creating an Igglo for websites is also a good way to generate pricing information.

Intelligence services: A favourite theme of mine - create a Reuters alike to service the traders of this market. Aggregate information and trends to help traders decide whether site is under or overvalued. Charting prices, volume et al is also helpful.

Social networks: Create a Covestor service for traders with good record to help manage the investments from other users. The increased funding can assist these traders to purchase bigger sites with more growth potential.

I am sure there are plenty more ideas on this theme. Drop a comment if you have any : )

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Social network for fighting malaria

I have briefly mention about this before: using social network to fight malaria. Today, I want to take a moment and round up some of the very innovative 2.0 efforts in solving this problem. Through this summary, I hope to come away with some insights that will be useful for future startup opportunities.

Before we begin, let's take a look at some facts about Malaria. It was forecast to affect 300 million people worldwide in 2007 and contribute to one in five childhood deaths in Africa, according to the World Health Organization. According to reports, one child dies from malaria every 30 seconds in the developing countries. Most cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa, but parts of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe are also affected.

Part of the reason for the high death rate is the lack of medicine. It is here that I want to highlight a social enterprise called HealthStore Foundation. It combines microfinance with established franchising practices to address the simple problem of “getting the drugs to sick people when and where they are needed,”.

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review:
The Minneapolis-based foundation gives healthcare workers microloans to open their own for-profit Child and Family Wellness Shops (CFWshops), which distribute medical products and services to remote communities in Kenya. Applying the basic principles of successful franchising, the foundation then trains the franchisees in uniform procedures, carefully selects locations, and conducts regular inspections to ensure quality and consistency. The franchise can also exploit economies of scale to obtain safe and effective drugs at low costs.

Such a powerful idea that is rooted in network models. Speaking of which, the Clinton Foundation might need to apply such thinking in its attempts to lower the costs of Malaria drug purchase. It is striking deals with drug manufacturers to provide lower costs Malaris drugs for the patients. While this is something worth admiring, I feel the approach of 'doing deals' a bit outdated, strategy wise.

Instead, I think the approach by Unitaid might be the right one i.e. leveraging on patent pools to allow for cheaper medicine. If they can somehow create the right mechanisms for others to innovate/remix/recombine on these patent pools to potentially create cheaper medicines, I think the value that is unlocked can be explosive.

Finally, I want to highlight how powerful information revealation is. Look at this index that compares how major pharmaceutical companies differ strongly in their efforts to provide people in low-income countries with affordable drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. This is wonderful as this is the beginning of how transparency will undo many of the corporate 'evilness' from the industrial era.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Startup Idea #77: Sports business 2.0

The global sports market is now a sizable aspect of the economy. As this market continues to grow, there are plenty of opportunities to get into the game. I have developed some ideas on what a startup can do. Here is the list;

Player Trading: Player transfer between clubs is not new. What is astonishing is the value of those deals and yet little sophistication in the trading tools. This is a huge opportunity. Who is going to be the Markit for the player transfer business? To supply clubs with vital market information, player statistics as well as all the necessary documentations and compliance reporting.

What about an exchange platform to coordinate the buying and selling of players. Player transfer is currently a time-consuming and close door affair. Is it possible to make it open, like an stock exchange where the value of the deal is open to anyone and trades can be executed effortlessly?

Thinking a step further, how about a derivative product based on player transfer to allow clubs to hedge their risks of non-performing players? Using data mining techniques to properly price and allocate the risks can be a compelling value proposition.

Investment bank for sports: There is a viable business to build technologies that help businesses that are exposed to sports risks (i.e. ticket sellers, hotels, sports merchandise, venue holder et al) to manage those risks (hello WeatherBill) . A sports merchandise store, for example, should not face the risk of slow moving inventory simply because it selected to sell merchanides of a losing team. Its business in selling, promoting et al of merchandise, not in picking winners of tournaments. Hence, that risk should and can be properly hedged.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Startup Idea #76: Forums 2.0

I first thought about the potential of message boards when a business plan from a startup landed on my table. He was trying to marry the features of social networks within the vibrancy of the message boards. I thought this was the right approach but somehow felt that he was missing a bigger potential. In my mind, that potential is to enable the community to do stuff together and that means a whole set of tools that build upon the current forum software, to enable communities to organise information, find each other and coordinate their actions.

i) A Ning or Blogger for message boards: Lefora is a step in the right direction (See screenshot below). If this get enough traction and open ups its platform, lots of interesting things can happen.

ii) Techmeme for forums: We need a way to enable forum users to track the hottest discussions in forums. There can be many different versions of Techmeme, each tracking different themes. If each of these can be streamlined to form FriendFeeds or Twitter like services, it will add a lot of value in terms of attention allocation. An alternative version of this videato become a De.cli.ous of forums where users can tag their discussions through a simple plug-in.

iii) Enabling threadless-like participation: This is granddaddy of all the opportunities. If each forum can, through the use of light weight coordination mechanisms, be coordinated in a threadless-like manner for different consumer goods, the value this unlocks is going to be awesome.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Idea generation #41: Resign food aid, innovative markets,

Innovative markets in eco-services: While the articles talks about the financial innovations from an investment bank's perspective, we can easily imagine how a more 2.0 service can look like. A decentralised peer-to-peer funding model (like Kiva) for entrepreneurs in the green space looking for investments in carbon projects. The profit from selling the carbon credits can then be shared among the investors. Worth a thought!

Fixing food aids: This article highlights the problem (and opportunity!) in the current food aid model. This line below is especially telling.

It means fixing health systems, improving the delivery of nutrients in the food chain, educating people about hygiene and other unpopular and unprofitable jobs.

These problems are real. I wish I can think of something that can leverages on 2.0 to solve these issues. I leave you with some vivid images of what is really worth thinking about.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Idea generation #40: Fighting obesity with games, udeas from VCs, water economics

Video games fights obesity: Can we construct an open source system for every kid to have a Wii type of gaming system for free, supported by advertisements? This system should be linked to marketplace where activity games can be uploaded for sale by developers.

Ideas from VCs:When the money men speak, you better listen....or shouldn't you, as argued by Umair Haque.

Water economics: This is a great blog on the economics of water trading which I have discovered. For those who believe in the edge economy of markets, networks and community, this should be an interesting read. His recent article on the water scarcity and pricing nails it perfectly.

Saving energy by exposing usage information: The power of information organisation. It is easy to use this model for other markets such as water and carbon.

Startup Idea #75: Comparision site for drug order

SAN ANSELMO, CA - MAY 21: In this photo illust...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeRisks in ordering drugs online: A clear case for market design principles. With rising health costs, it is reasonable to expect more and more people going online to source for cheaper alternatives. Unintentionally but not unexpectedly, there will be a corresponding increase in the number of counterfeit drugs.

So, what kind of opportunities are open to a startup to help rectify the problem?

I see an opportunity to build a JellyFish type of comparison sites for online drugs with a built-in reputation system for information revelation. It is also important to create a risk index for sites that have not been rated, similar to what Zillow has done for housing: creating liquidity in the market. Designing such a market driven incentive will be more productive than a top down approach IMHO. Besides doing good, there is of course the $75 billion market that you can tap into : )

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Friday, 18 July 2008

Startup Idea #74: Small idea: Market for API access

As web services move toward open access, the use of web APIs inevitably will follow the same trend. As a service becomes popular, the burden of API calls will cause slowdowns and even crashing of the main service. While it is possible to remedy this problem by using additional servers, another approach is to design an economic solution: markets for API access.

I see this market evolving similarly to Amie Street. The initial batch of API access is free. As demand increases, the subsequent user has to pay a certain amount of fees. The fee will increase along with each additional user, until the point where the limit is hit. This is where it will get interesting.

Imagine now that there is a market where developers (or speculators) can start trading their access right like shares on the financial exchange. The opportunity here is to manage these exchanges, akin to how Intrade provides free prediction markets.

Business model? Give the software away for free. The revenue will come from aggregating the price information from these markets. Who will want these information. How about investors? The price information can be a good forecast for what are the potentially successful web services.

Alternatively, there is also an opportunity to build a derivative market on top of these exchanges. Sell these derivative instruments is going to bring in quite a large sum of $$.

This article talks about how Twitter is relieving its access problem by restricting access. I think a better solution is the one I highlighted above.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Idea generation #39: Open source law, mobile phone to change cancer care, real 2.0

Law goes open source: As the web continues to commodities data, companies such as Fastcase will disrupt the LexisNexis of the world. The next step will be interesting. If such data continues to become cheaper and maybe even free, we can build powerful services such as Farecast for the law sector. We can even create law insurance to allow people to hedge against the risk of not winning. Eventually, we might have markets where legal can be freely traded and hedged.

Managing symptons by mobile phones: I will want to use this technology from a social point of view. Use mobile phone to enable users to share their pain and sufferings. Cancer treatment is a painful and long process. The social structure which can be enabled by the mobile phone applications (imagine twitter) can provide a form of relieve for the patients.

Social network to fight malaria: Wow. What can I say but... brilliant. If you want to create new markets, this is the way to do it.

Can cell phone end poverty?: It can and is already doing so.

Wakoopa: The last.fm of software. What about the last.fm for real issues?

Startup Idea #68 (Part II): Personal carbon trading

See part one of the post here

We are definitely seeing more and more companies providing tools to the research and rating side of the market. Carbonflow is one such company, providing solutions which automates the verification, delivery and distribution of GHG or CO2e offset credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency-based programs. I also came to know about World Energy, a dominant player in the exchange part of the game.

The question in my head is: where are the 2.0 players in this space? Am I missing anything?

Monday, 14 July 2008

Startup Idea #73: Product 2.0

NabaztagImage via WikipediaEver since I read reBang's post on product design 2.0, I can't shake off the feeling that this is going a very rich area for new forms consumer products. However, I can't place my finger on what to do until I bump into Olinda, a social radio (Nabaztag is another example). It is the moment where the lightbulb in my head suddenly turns on.

If I read rebang's post correctly, a truly 2.0 product has to reflect, enhance and even transform the social experiences of users (either cooperative or competitive). It is to understand that such Experiences are the driving forces behind massive adoption, not merely being able to connect to the Web.

Following from the above, I wonder if there is an opportunity here to be a form of boutique product company that specialises in creating affordable items that are designed from the ground up to be 2.0. One way is to design products for existing online communities (Moo Cards is a great example of how physical products are tied into online communities, although it is not 2.0 enabled). The physical product can then enhance the virtual social experiences of the users.

Top of head, I am trying to brainstorm on the type of products that can be 2.0 enabled to fundamentally changed its value proposition.

i) Weighing machines: Similar to Nike+, let your weighing machines transfer your daily weighing results to a site where you can track, compare, do mashup, share et al your results. Moreover, the machine should have displays or buttons that allows users to instantly compare their weighing results against the average of your height, friends, country et al the moment you step on the machine.

ii) Digital photo frames: While there are a number of digital photo frames in the market, there are not many that are 2.0 enabled. Even if they 2.0 enabled, the most common functionality is sharing pictures among friends. I believe there can be richer experiences. What about the ability to unlock virtual items based on the numbers of photos you have uploaded to your frame? These items can then be used to enhance or disfigure your friend's pictures in their digital frames. Alternatively, consider the simple ability of a button to only display the pictures your friends are currently displaying in their digital frames

I am sure there lots of ideas but I can't think of any right now. The bigger problem is how do I interrrelated the concepts above with the business models of markets, networks and communities. Maybe an API for users to create their own applications on these products?
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Sunday, 13 July 2008

A wishlist for WWGD

I have been looking forward to Jeff Jarvis book, What Would Google Do (WWGD), since the day I knew of its existence. Beyond a doubt, I think it is going to an enlightening read, to say the least. What I hoping is that Jeff will also cover industries beyond yesterday's tired definitions. Industries like those mentioned by Tim O'Reily.

As an incentive for Jeff, I will start posting about the WWGD principle to these industries in future posts. Think of these posts as a fan's wishlist. As a preview, let's look at detecting infectious disease. Applying the WWGD principle will lead the following idea:

The most time consuming in modeling is data collection and the actual crunching. Why not have a platform that provides the raw data and the computing resources? Let the rest of the community work on the modeling itself to produce better prediction models for infectious diseases using online data such as clickstreams, new mention et al. These models should be open to allow for modification by other users. Through these distributed research, it may be possible to have better prediction models in lessor time.

More in future posts.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Idea generation #38: Tim O'Reily on 'be good' and other 'be good' ideas

Great week as there are a couple of interesting reading materials that surface to my attention:

Tim O'Reily on 'Be Good': It is good to see high profile bloggers like O'Reily getting behind Umair Haque's vision of bringing 2.0 to solve real issues. Below is a nice list of issues that warrant a 2.0 makeover. I have blogged about a couple of ideas on some of these topics:
Financial literacy: Great article by the economist on the need for financial literacy. I fully agreed, and looking at the mess of the current markets, have to concurre this is a real issue waiting for a 2.0 solution. What are the best 2.0 startups out there in the education market? Can we apply their models here?

Small businesses not giving healthcare coverage to employees: I blog about this a couple of months ago and suggested that a network model is the right one to use. This article just confirms the need for it. See also my related post about group purchases

Questionable practices at rating agencies: One market that is clearly in need of a disruption. This should not be hard. If people can build an encyclopedia through collective intelligence, I don't see why we cannot do it for rating agencies.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Startup Idea #72: Data driven: Creating new markets

Continuing the push for data driven startup ideas, I am thinking of how to leverage on online data to form create new forms of industries that lies outside yesterday's definition.

Intelligence on emerging infectious diseases: using online content to trace and predict the movement of infectious disease is going to be a killer. The next thing is to make it easy to plug that information into a country or a city's alert/medical/disease prevention system. Make it into a network where these critical information flows. As BubbleGen has mentioned, whoever make it easy to amplify the flow of data is going to be the winner.

Similar efforts can be found here (Global Public Health Intelligence) and here (Google's Predict and Prevent Initiative).

Forecasting terrorism: A network of analysts sharing information to enable forecasting of terrorism. Great idea! Networking these information into insurance calculations, monitoring systems et al will yield rich startup opportunities.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Startup Idea #71: WWGD: Fashion edition

American journalist Jeff Jarvis at the 2008 Wo...Image via WikipediaJeff Jarvis has been blogging about his book, What would Google do (WWGD), and how such thinking can reshape different industries. I have been having fun reading these 2 particular posts, one on remaking restaurants and one on remaking banks.

This got my mind itchy and, with a few minutes to spare, decided to apply WWGD thinking to fashion, an industry
plague with surplus inventory and all sorts of problems.

i) Treat each piece of fashion as a platform and give it for free. Let users create fashion mashup by adding pins, clip-ons et al through an easy to use interface. You make $$ on selling the accessories;

ii) Make your production facilities as the platform. Allow users to submit designs. The best voted design will get manufactured and sold;

iii)Collect data from virtual world fashion to surface the preferences of consumers for product designers. The same idea was articled in this Forbes piece on how Zara can use Stardolls as a form of market research tool.

iv)Give away tools such as OptiTex for free to allow open innovation. Use such technologies as the base to build the Blogger equivalent for users who want to create fashion pieces.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, 4 July 2008

Startup Idea #70: Data driven tools for enterprises

(Read the first post here)

In my previous post on how the abundance of new data will transform job functions, I focus mainly on what new sources of data are available and the opportunities in creating predictive analytic business to harvest these new data. As I explore further in data driven businesses, the opportunities become so much bigger. In this post, I am going to rave about the kind of enterprise businesses that can be built.

Risk management: The availability of data is going to reveal the hidden risks that are embedded with each function. Take IT for example. There is now geninue risks in employees leaking confidential information. How about surfacing the transfer of these information to alert IT managers that too much information is resting in too few people? What about HR and turnover rate? Can we surface the information on whether is any department suffering from too little or too much turnover, relative to industry averages? All these risks can now be surfaced and managed with the current technologies and the availability of data. This is the opportunity: building a Riskmetrics equivalent for each job functions

Forecast: Companies such as Farecast and Delaycast have shown us the value of using the abundance of data to build powerful forecasting tools. I believe forecasting tools will become important for job functions within any organisation. Logistics managers will love to have a Delaycast equivalent to tell them the probability of delays for their shipments. Recruitment managers might need to have a Farecast to tell them the best period to recruit. Sales personnel will be delighted to have a tool telling them the best time to make a sale call. The possibilities are plenty. We just need to line up the options to weigh the best startup opportunity.

: We definitely visualisation and analytics to help users make sense of all these data. Sisence is good example of how to take advantage of a new source of data by building its entire analytics business around it. Hpwever, the model is not perfect. I believe future successful analytics businesses will look nothing like Sisence or Google analytics as they will develop new forms of interfaces to take advantage of new types of data (myBloglog is a new form of interface for human traffic).

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Startup Idea #69: OpenID for avatar

I always supported the idea of portability. There is little sense in forcing users to key in their information in every single web service they signed on. However, customising your avatar is even more painful. Hence, an idea I am toying with is the concept of OpenAvatar (See OpenID).

While the current favour is on avatar portability, my personal view is that this approach is too hard to be achieved. My thinking is to have an open standard where the characteristics, not the actual avatar, will be portable. These characteristics can be seen as 'meta-tags' that describes the avatar and can include examples such as gender, skin colour, clothing colour, et al. With these portable meta-tags, each game can provide their users with similar looking avatar, despite different game engines.

With these meta tags, we can actually create a lot of cool services. How about a De.cli.ous version where users can search through different avatars through tags (assuming the OpenAvatar engine have the ability to take pictures of different avatars)? We can also allow users to add tags that instantly alters their avatars across different games. Finally, these meta tags can be mergered with OpenID which will then provide even more convenience to the users.

Regardless of whether my idea works or not, portability is going to be very important. There should be more experiments trying different approaches to achieve this. Let's hope it happens.

Idea generation #37: Exchange for internet capacity, billion doller idea for twitter, disintemediation of analysts

Market for internet capacity: The age of markets. The interesting thing is to apply markets to areas where it is not obvious. Things like HR recruitment? (more on that in a future post)

How Twitter could be worth a billion dollars: Interesting angle. And we are long overdue on Paypal 2.0. Could Twitter be it?

Who needs analysts?: The disintemediation continues. Open source research to the research market will be what blogging is to the publishing industry. Will there be a need for a blogger, technorati, techmeme et al for research or will current tools suffice?