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July 2, 2009 / TildeWill

Three Ideas

I recently posted about wanting to start a business in order to exercise parts of me that have been sleeping in San Francisco. I realized I already have three ideas laying around.

Idea #1 – A queue system for libraries. Sure, you can reserve books now, but you can’t stack ’em up and take one off when you return the previous one. This would also mean doing away with late fees and due dates. Eventually people could get suggestions on what to read next. A later version might even include a subscription sevice where books get mailed to your door – keep in mind people don’t read nearly as fast as they can watch a movie.

Pros: This is the kind of idea that could make a lot of money. From money that users, advertisers, libraries could potentially pay, there’s all kinds of revenue streams. It’s also the kind of thing that could unify a divided national library system, and breathe new life into dead-tree books.

Cons: This is the kind of idea that costs a lot of money.There’s also a high bar to get libraries to change the way they do business. I feel like the sales/implementation effort would be far greater than any technical effort. Also, the market is really saturated – there’s tons of card-catalog vendors as well as many new services that are “netflix for books” that aren’t connected to libraries. I’d also need to get into the world of Venture Capital, which I understand how it works, but I don’t know where to start.

Idea #2 – Puppy Rental. I swear I posted about this idea months ago, but I can’t find it now. Anyway, the basic idea is that girls find puppies cute enough that they’ll stop and pet ’em. Dudes in the city may not have time and space for a dog, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t benefit from an icebreaker, so he comes to me, rents a puppy for the afternoon and walks him in the park. The service encourages being honest when she asks if it belongs to him, or he can say “I’m walking it for a friend”. But if he finds himself on the hook, or they fall in love and want the dog that brought them together, the pups would be for sale when they got beyond puppy size.

Pros: Cute girls, getting a fellow man a date, puppies, and fairly easy to start up. A great business for a crowded city.

Cons: Not really a cash cow. One person could make a living with 20 dogs, but that’s a lot of dogs. Plus I feel like some animal rights people might take issue.It would also mean moving somewhere that I could have a lot of dogs, and be close to a park.

Idea #3 Fencing Club to end all fencing clubs. 3 stories, 8 strips per floor. Pro shop. Locker rooms with showers. Rent floor space to the college(s), local club(s), and high school(s). Always have the best floor, best equipment, be where the best want to go. maybe even toss in an on-site residence or some temp housing for visiting coaches.

Pros: I know fencing really well. Really well. I’ve run a smaller scale business like this before. I really like good fencing. I also feel like this would be a “if you build it, they will come” kind of thing.

Cons: Making money in fencing is hard. The building/land in Indiana would be $1mil at least. It isn’t the most expensive idea on the list, but it probably has the longest recuperation time. Since this isn’t really a “get rich quick” plan, it means I’d be looking at business and personal loans to get this idea off the ground.

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