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Free business ideas - looking for partners (jonathanbrun.com)
28 points by jbrun on May 8, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 28 comments

I like the airbnb.com for desks idea. I recently got myself a small office in a co-op and I thought a website like that would be really useful.

The only question is - what's to stop AirBnb from simply re-purposing and rebranding their technology to do this exact thing? That was my initial concern when thinking about this idea.

What stops airbnb from re-purposing their tech? Nothing.

The technology to do this is relatively trivial compared to the task of getting businesses to use the site.

I'm sure I saw this in the UK - maybe http://www.deskspacegenie.co.uk/ but there seem a few results. The lack of traction and options available on each site is telling.

Nothing really, but it is a different market so the cost is not that different for Airbnb and a start-up.

Cool. I'm in a similar situation. Is it a business co-op or a housing co-op?

Some of these ideas are pretty cool.. here's my take if you care to read:

#1 is a great idea. Really really great idea. There are a couple of things to consider (I'm sure you've already thought of them) - mainly even healthier restaurants have unhealthy items and the reverse applies to unhealthier restaurants. There ought to be a way for limitation and inclusion. Attemtping a partnership with Yelp might be of some use interms of trying to keep partner restaurants honest.

Also, like any association - the guidelines of this healthy-restaurant-coupon-association will be public and under intense scrutiny - especially from the big boys in the food industry.

#2 - This is a bit crowded right now.

#3 - I don't know if this is already being done and if so, in what capacity, but.. there are many resources for building confidence, empowerment etc... this will be a marketing-heavy project.

#4 - So now rich people have even more escape route incase they blow up the world ten times over? :P. I think its a fantastic idea... fear sells. This is a well-known fact.

#5 - Pretty cool. How about a cross-roads style exchange program built into a basic-goods store instead? I bet someone like IKEA could probably run this (not sure if it has already been pitched). This has cool written all over it. One might even get away with running it like Netflix (order a care package... it comes with a box that you can return the whole thing in).

#6 - Neato. I'll second that AirBnB can already do this with their existing tech... but why would they want to? Unless they're really looking to expand their business horizontally. On the other hand, craigslist could really do this and they wouldn't be shifting focus at all (its just office space for rent).

#7 - A way to "humanize" them isn't good enough. We're talking about putting people's pictures and stories online - I mean, its bad enough that these people have zero privacy. There have to be massive benefits for them to want to do this... why should I, homeless Joe, tell you my story? Whats in it for me? Whats in it for anyone?

There's a spreadsheet of people available to join a startup floating around on HN. I'd highly recommend contacting some of them - there are some amazingly talented people on it!

Anyone got the link? Anyone...? :)


Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. I agree with you on most of your points.

I think this is the document you are thinking of:


Thanks for your interest and time.

I think the Health ticket one is great. With current rates of obesity, people should be forced into eating healthier when they can't manage it themselves.

Here's a couple ideas of my own I've never had time to implement:

1) A solution for (web based) businesses that intelligently auto-detects and flags suspected negative activity before it happens using behavioral analysis. I've got pages and page of writing and diagrams on this. Originally developed as a concept around Paypal security but applicable across most websites.

2) A Social Network related to the pay it forward concept promoting compassion among people.

3) Google Voice has an app for Android and Blackberry, but not iPhone/iPod/iPad. Voice may be very difficult, but just making a web interface that looks and acts like a native application to send and receive SMS messages on iPod touch or iPad would be huge.

4) Configurable status boards such as Panic's( http://www.panic.com/blog/2010/03/the-panic-status-board/) or Cultured Code's (http://culturedcode.com/status/) that mesh easily with popular project management systems like Basecamp, etc.


I should have been more clear at first, but my idea is going beyond that. Their web app is sad, perhaps in an attempt to make it work in too many arenas at once. No push notifications, difficult UI, lumping messages together but required scrolling through every message just to read the newest etc. I could go on, but the point is made.

#5 and #6 are very good ideas.

On #5: Don't just aim for students. Anyone renting an unfurnished apartment who doesn't want to fill it with stuff (e.g. because they're just there for the summer) should be able to use the service. The domain Unfurnished.com would be ideal (might be pricey, though).

Here's how I'd implement it: Sell the items, but offer a partial refund on return. (Less risky than rental, for both parties—obviously for the seller, but also for the buyer if they wind up needing the stuff for longer than expected.) Specialize in light-weight, durable items that can be shipped economically: air mattresses, plastic tableware, folding furniture. Include a pre-printed shipping label in the box. The pitch: "Zappos for apartment stuff." (Just checked, and ApartmentStuff.com is being parked on.) Ideally, the stuff should be custom-branded.

Devil's advocate here.

1. Maybe this would work in European countries, but I just don't think it would work in America. You're just going to cause your employees to become more disgruntled as they will feel like you're taking away a fundamental personal choice.

2. Meetup.com. I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to organize much faster than that.

3. What is the recent obsession with stopping bullies? I don't have any real thoughts on this other than it seems to be catering more toward the recent media obsessions than anything real. People will always be bullied. Unless your website allows kids to hire a huge, jacked guy to come beat the shit out of their bully, it's not going to help.

4. If there is a catastrophe, how will the rich people get to the bunker in time? Won't the roads, planes, etc. all be out of service?

Regarding the doom bunker: it's very impracticle since in a doomsday scenario it won't be easy to take a plane etc. A better idea would be a rescue/support service that in case of a disaster like hurricane, earthquake or civil unrest will come in helicopter and evacuate you (or drop supplies etc).

Related to the homeless page, we see in reddit sad stories of people in desperate situations asking for help. Sometimes they are true and sometimes they are fake, so an idea (non for profit) would be to have a network of volunteers checking out the stories (with web, phone or even in person)

Interesting, can you point to any of these reddit stories?

I had an idea for something similar to EventChase but it would been a tool for existing organised teams. The weekly task of checking to see who can turn up to the match and possibly finding replacements could be largely automated and it is actually a simpler problem than a pickup game. You'd basically just have to sell the team organiser on this and they would enforce usage within their team. No real need for 'network effects' for it to be useful. Once you had a base of sports enthusiasts things like organising scratch games and even 'scratch tournaments would be possible.

The fightbullies and rich person's bunker are amazing ideas. I would run with both of them and see if you can combine them somehow. If rich people feel bullied, they can go into the bunker.

The rich person bunker is particularly devious. Good luck getting a refund when martial law is declared and the cloud of Gulfstream Vs descend on Saskatchewan only to discover Auschwitz style accommodations run by a bunch of high school jocks.

1 and 6 have sincere potential. I'm an advocate of anything that involves getting people healthy.

thanks for the comment, i tend to agree.

4. A Bunker for rich people during a catastrophe

So, it would be like the arks in 2012? That turned out well for them, especially that part where everyone was fighting each other to get onto the boat.

It worked a lot better for them than for the billions that drowned.

Besides that, it was only a movie. Maybe rich people should live in a bunker all the time?

That way they won't waste time when the catastrophe hits.

For the people that survived, of course it went well. And it is just a movie, but you have to agree that some would likely resort to violence if they had to save their family and there was a bunker that would allow them to do that.

There's a whole series of video games predicated on this notion: http://fallout.bethsoft.com

Just my two cents: I thought ideas #1 and #6 were really good. #1 seems like it's "in" right now...the sooner you could do that, the better.

thanks for the comment, i tend to agree!

I left a comment on his blog but it seems to have been deleted FML.


Just replied to your comment on my blog, not sure which one you were. I had a ton of spam to filter, sorry for the delay!


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