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Startup Ideas - July 2011 (wesleytansey.com)
91 points by tansey on July 12, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments

"Does this fit me" has been a dream of mine for awhile. Imagine a world where everybody's clothes fit. Where clothing can be spontaneously gifted, and you'll be sure it fits like a glove.

I think he sells himself short here. Women aren't the only people that have to hunt for a fit. I'm a tall, lanky guy. Most medium shirts are too short, and my shoulders swim in a large. Like any good scientist, I've trialled and erred my way to brands that fit (thank you American Apparel medium 50/50s), but this discovery process is a pain in the ass. Here's the upside, browse through clothes online, and everything fits, see how it looks on someone with your shape.

There are some big challenges of course. A brand's sizing will vary from design to design. I bought a pair of Nike 11s that fit, after trying another Nike 11 that didn't. Then, how consistent is the sizing after manufacturing, after washing?

Sigh, somebody start this, and I'd love to help.

A couple of guys I went to school with are doing this for shoes: http://www.shoefitr.com

Yea CMU! Their tech is sick. I expect Amazon to snatch them up.

Another one is Clothes Horse. They're trying to solve this problem using machine learning: http://www.clotheshor.se/

I love this idea - which is why I co-founded Clothes Horse ;) thanks rw and gsiener for the comments! Hopefully you'll see us everywhere soon. Hit me up if you wanna get involved - @dwhittemore on twitter

was trying to sign up using the form on the website, but cant seem to submit the form :-(

+! for Clothes Horse. They've been hosting fit parties for a while now to collect a ton of data on what fits who and are turning that into shortcuts for sizing.

Fit parties! Excellent, sounds like they're on the right track :) I bet you could lure a pretty good seed of testers by offering free beer. Even more testers by making it coed. Actually, how do you go to these parties ;)

I thought of another use for this article. It would make a good interview question: which of these products would you be most proud to be a part of?

I have been wanting to build this for 5+ years as well, exactly as described: find clothing-item overlaps between what I say fits and what others say fits -- the items we don't share can be thus recommended. Who cares about the actual numbers? If I love 32-32 in Levis STF 501s, and 33-32 in Banana Republic Gavins... and you are likewise 33-32 in BR Gavins, chances are great that 32-32 in Levis STF 501s will be a win.

But major problems: clothing even within brand-lines changes regularly. Annual or semi-annual updates. Manufacturer changes. I have found size changes within colors even (BR boot cut chinos in khaki versus brown; major differences). And then identifying the clothes in the first place. We going to be scanning bar codes?

Also getting support from the retailers -- both on sharing data and collecting it (they have much better chance of getting data from customers -- attach the web address to the clothes tag). But this will compel more online purchases and reduce return-churn, so they have an incentive to participate and monetize this.

Clothing seems to be a big pain point for a lot of people. I've pondered going so far as to start a clothing company that makes clothes that fit certain criteria, including doing mass customization for knits. I'm not currently in a position to seriously pursue such an idea. For now, I am just adding info to a blog and wondering where to go with this. And gather links/notes.

Have you considered just getting clothes that will fit? Both http://www.modasuite.com/ or http://www.indochino.com/ offer custom-tailored clothing at reasonable prices.

I have considered that, though I haven't seen these two sites before; thanks for the links. One that I've seen like this is http://www.blanklabel.com -- they even have an iPad app Dress Shirt Designer (though the springboard shortens the app name to "Dress...Designer", embarrassing).

Here's the obvious drawback: you're pretty much limited to running shoes and suits. But then, these are some of the more risky expenditures, and it's even more crucial for these items to fit than it is for your sweatshirt to fit.

Still, I can imagine a lot more money being spent on clothes if all it takes is an image and an impulse. When the clothes arrive and they fit...then you don't feel like an jerk.

Not a new idea: http://www.myshape.com/ Website is having serious issues right now but they've raised a boatload of cash over the past 4 years.

No not new, but I haven't heard of myshape.com. I wouldn't call them a definitive test.

TechCrunch says they've raised $28 million since 2006. That is a boatload of money. They should split into at least two companies: one to represent and engage the users that will pay with their personal information, and another to integrate retailers with a suitably featured API.

If it becomes popular for people to store the entire laundry list of their personal information online (even something mundane like an inseam), then there is plenty of work to be done to upgrade the universe of e-commerce out there into such a store. It's a natural place for Amazon, eBay/PayPal, Facebook, or Google to be.

Love the idea as well, even commented on the blog (something I rarely do these days). My partner and I might be interested in hacking on it too. Now if we can get tansey to do our ML~

I honestly think there's room for more than one company to make money in solving clothing pain points :) I'm glad others picked up on this idea too.

I'm worried that a lot of these ideas are taking Paul Graham's adage of solving simple problems a little bit too much to heart. The amount of effort that would be expanded into these ideas - and various other start-up ideas nowadays - generally appears to me to be more than it's worth.

I suppose my point is that entrepreneurs are spending too much time solving mundane, every-day problems which aren't that bad as opposed to looking at the big picture. I mean, don't get me wrong, I recognize that not everyone is going to build the next facebook... but if we don't strive for that, doesn't that eliminate the risk - and ultimately, the charm - of entrepreneurship? Or am I just bitter?

I'm starting to think it might just be the latter.

> not everyone is going to build the next facebook... but if we don't strive for that, doesn't that eliminate the risk - and ultimately, the charm - of entrepreneurship? Or am I just bitter?

First, I really wouldn't say Facebook was a big idea when it started. It was about getting Harvard students laid, with some long-shot plans about connecting the world together gradually over time. I could come up with some half-baked paths that a few of my ideas may follow to become a huge company, but of course that is more about luck down the road. I like to focus on ideas that can solve a problem right now and make money.

Second, risk is not a binary concept. You have an efficient frontier of risk/reward points and you simply choose your spot along that line. If you want to start the next Facebook, you might be looking at 1,000 competitors. If you want to build a Settlers of Catan clone, it's more like 3. There's still risk, but it's greatly reduced, and with that reduction comes a reduction of potential return. Feel free to swing for the fences-- but every team needs guys who can get singles and RBIs, not just home runs.

Happy to hear some examples of ideas that you think have sufficient potential and charm. :)

Good points. I guess I'm not as concerned about entrepreneurs pursuing ideas which are inherently doomed, as much as entrepreneurs grasping for straws.

I'd like to think the idea I'm working on now has sufficient potential and charm! :-)

I actually agree with you, and have been wondering the same thing myself.

However I would say these ideas are not necessarily that bad to practice on. I mean for people who are serious about getting into web stuff, then projects like these could be a great way to learn the ropes. Doing a project from ground up has always been IMO the best way to learn a new language. I know that I will basically be doing this with one of those ideas or a similar one.

With regard to the source control for recipes, I've been trying to get an StackExchange/Reddit sort of thing for recipes that includes some wiki editing off the ground for a year and a half. Haven't had much success, but working on version 3 in my spare time now. Maybe with a nicer design (a real logo) and a core written in Zend as opposed to Cake things will pick up speed more. Here's the current version: http://www.fridgetofood.com

Cool idea and nice looking site!

I think the reason why Github is a better model than reddit is because of the developer-centric model of Github. I use Github because it's how I manage my own code-- it's first and foremost about me. The social aspect of it is what makes it go viral when a cool library is pushed, but that's a vitamin, not a painkiller.

With reddit, it's more of a nail-biting, "gosh I hope people like this" sort of model. Its focus is on the community and a link is a temporary (usually < 1 day) talking point for people.

I think chefs treasure their recipes and carry them around for life. They know what they like and they're happy to experiment/learn from others, but it's mostly about mastering their own skills and creating their own recipes.

For Reddit, a person can evaluate the quality of an article very quick and simple democracy pushes it to the top. Also, once I have read the article, I usually don't care to ever see it again. With recipes, it takes longer to evaluate, so the credibility of the person recommending it has more weight. Also, when I find a recipe I like, I want to keep it for life. "Browse Emeril's recipes" sounds like a site I want to see. (This may be exactly what you were saying, not sure)

Well, Fridge to Food attaches a StackExchange style reputation to people (that carries more weight than reddit karma) and does have a page where you can see user's recipes (similar to SO). Really it pulls more inspiration from StackExchange than it does from Reddit.

I entered a 48 hour startup competition with source control for recipes. I won 3rd out of 8 or so teams, mainly because I didn't have a good strategy to penetrate the market (massive competitors like All Recipes, or branded ones like Betty Crocker hold the stage now). Everyone loved the concept though, and combining it with an Ingredients->Mobile Grocery List would be useful for just about every one.

I suppose if anyone's interested, I'd be willing to carry the idea further. I'm a technical guy, with experience in RoR and NodeJS and Android, although I'd love to explore the business side of things more.

I've had this recipes based on what you have in your kitchen idea for many years. I made an awful looking prototype in 2006 to which my sister introduced me to competitors: supercook.com and a few others that have the same concept. So now I decided I'm going in different directions but still have the aim to have a large open storage of recipes and food.

Sadly, I don't have my website up yet since I had to make architectural decisions to accommodate massive data input for example.

You and me have the biggest problem: chicken and egg. :D

Tip: If you're going to use random recipes as frontpage, try not to show them without pictures as it makes your website looks incomplete/tacky.

Good call. I'd had it default to newest queue for the front page. But most people who arrive probably aren't going to be interested in the newest recipes, but rather the best recipes. Made the change.

Yeah, we do have the same problem pretty much. It's definitely a chicken and egg thing. That's why I demoted it from startup to side project and got a job. There's way too much competition and there's too much of a chicken and egg problem for one guy to make this fly.

Looks nice!

For recipes that you don't have any pictures of yet, seeing the site logo is really confusing. Why don't you instead show a generic icon/clipart image for the class of food (a cup of soup for soups) or pull something in from google images or flickr?

Anyone interested in building this with me? I'm a intermediate Rails developer but pretty good at design and front-end stuff..

Love the idea of github for recipes. I think it'd be great to share and build recipes with others. Actually, the github/social version idea could work for a lot of stuff in theory (e.g. music, design, etc).

The crowdsourced editing is already done. http://www.cloudcrowd.com/

I've got a pickup lines site (http://worldsbestpickuplines.info) which would be easy to adapt or clone to the "Pickup Stories" idea - I think I'll do it. Thanks for the idea!

Awesome! Drop me a line when it's up and running!

done! slightly modified from the original idea: http://hookupstories.net/ now all it needs some content! any hn'ers got some good hookup/pickup stories???

> Rewarding Jobs: A jobs site that only posts jobs with a more altruistic slant...

I think http://www.idealist.org/ already fills this niche

Several of these appear to already exist (such as the crowdsourced editing).

Then there is your webcam deal that hits a personal pain point - anywhere sufficiently exotic will be Mega expensive to get a signal out of. Heck I'd pay for 50 webcams to be installed throughout Rocky Mountain National Park myself if it weren't that only a satellite uplink would work for most locations and a couple hundred a day adds up to real money quick :-)

Sure, it would be ideal to have a webcam mounted right on top of Pike's peak, but I think that's not required. I'm sure somewhere like the Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs has a sufficiently awesome view of the Rocky Mountains, though. :)

Perhaps. But if I'm more interested in checking our Bear Lake, or the summit view from Longs Peak (rather than the view of Longs Peak from 30 miles away), or some of the waterfalls along the Glacier trail, then there isn't anyplace where I can get that. And if a service ever comes along that DOES offer that I will be happy to give them a fist full of money because while I can't afford to work in or near the park, I'd love to be able to take a virtual hike when I'm stressed out.

If you fund my next trip to the Diamond, I will gladly place that webcam for you :P

But how will I get the pictures back from that webcam on demand and for a reasonable price? I wouldn't mind paying for both of us to go up there if that was going to be the lion's share of the cost. But since the trip is maybe 1% of the cost when you have to use a satellite uplink...


I'm a huge fan of the Video Creation Contest idea. I think 99 designs is awesome and I think having a good landing video is just as important, if not more important(at least in the beginning), as having a good logo.

Friend of mine posts ideas in http://fundprojectswith.me/ There ideas are easily converted to projects with less dollars (500-1000).

I'm going to post these ideas there now:)

Can someone explain the "Rydex for the global markets" idea? I don't understand what Rydex does at all.

Sure! I just wrote up a lengthy explanation of the idea: http://wesleytansey.com/elaborating-on-the-global-rydex-idea...

Thanks - that's very useful

User Manual Creator


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