This seems more like 25 Startup Ideas for 2042.
> Build a database for biology.
Better than Entrez/NCBI? They have a ton of data. Yes, not particularly user-friendly in the way the web community might be used to, but it has all of the data and biologists know how to read it. What would you add? (Yes, there's a lot to add -- but it's not a matter of a prettier UI, and NCBI does have an API already that people find usable).
> Reading DNA in vitro
What does this mean? Sequencing DNA without extracting it from a cell? Why? Sequencing is largely a solved problem now. Costs are dropping faster than Moore's law, and there's literally a thousand vendors who will do it. Even synthesis is advancing so fast that people are beginning to talk about not doing subcloning anymore and just synthesizing the entire construct! (Note that just because we can synthesize kbp oligos now doesn't mean that they're biologically useful in much other than bacteria and yeast, though... pesky things like epigenetic modifications and nucleosomes/genomic DNA packing... among others.) Also, the extension of "writ[ing] DNA sequences into plasmids using the capacitance of the cell wall via [a] nano tube" seems a bit far from current technology.
That said, I think these are important problems and I'd love love love to see more people working on them versus more web and iphone apps! This was not the list I expected to see, which is awesome. But the biology-related ideas don't come across as being communicated with much sophistication.
I have a feeling he just has a bunch of ideas but doesn't know how they'd actually be implemented.
Though, I am using the new IDT geneblocks. I even got a discount on an order, so now ordering 500bp double stranded fragments is actually cheaper than assembling oligos. It's nuts.
OpenPCR is a good example of frugal engineering applied to the space. I hope to see more attempts at making this hardware cheaper and accessible.
Regarding the spec on the Database. User friendliness would be a start, can you throw in what you would want to improve - I'm interested in your ideas?
The company "ion torrent" caught my eye regarding the in vitro DNA sequencing. It disrupts Halcyon Molecular and could cut the cost down even quicker.
The fact is you really can't do much with a PCR machine. Sure, you can identify your friends boogers. But it only reduces one tiny aspect of overall cost. Add a centrifuge, a flow cytometer, a gel box, some incubators, and then maybe you have a functional 'garage' lab.
But again, you don't achieve much by having immediate in vitro sequencing. Not sure what the point is.
The real barrier then is literally funding and the capacity to do the research. And that's exactly what my startup is doing.
If you ask a science researcher to be able to do the research outside of his lab, the size of your potential audience falls to fingers on one hand.
At least Bill and Melinda Gates foundation does better in pushing a goal with their own agendas. This seems like an unfocused attempt to throw money into the pit, though money always helps.
So, as a researcher, I've learned that researchers are the best ones who can dictate their own goals. That's freedom that hasn't been seen yet, and there's a very simple solution. Just execution is very difficult.
Including every random nutter with a grudge against society who wnats to make their own viruses and bacteria. I do not think this is a good idea.
User friendliness would be a start, can you throw in what you would want to improve - I'm interested in your ideas?
"lookin 4 a technical cofounder"
I think the most promising method is DNA nanopore tech (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanopore_sequencing). It doesn't require labeling, amplification, and, I suppose, could be done in vitro. Maybe that's what the article is referring to?
I'm not 100% sure on this, but it also may be much more accurate than current methods since it doens't suffer from many of the biases present in current next-gen sequencers.
I'm working on my PhD in computational biophysics and this is truly an exciting time to be doing cutting edge bio-stuff like this. Sometimes I think people will look back on the 2010's and say this was like Silicon Valley in the 70s and 80s... the beginning of something big.
"build a holodeck"
"We see the VirtuSphere as version 1 of the Holodeck and the ultimate portal to the matrix."
Retirement for not-so-rich people
Shipping (in developing countries)
Customs (in developing countries)
Utilities prices in Northern countries
Digital democracy (removing corporate influence on elections)
The more countries that adopt this the better.
While in theory it sounds like a great concept, the key to realize is that no "AirBnB for Activites" can ever be an "AirBnB for Activities." What I mean by that is: the part of the "AirBnB for X" business model that makes it work is the part where you have a very low marginal cost to renting out an existing resource that, presumably, is getting very low utilization. I.e. a car sitting in a garage, an empty couch. The marginal cost of renting those out... is basically zero. However, with Activities, the resource at play is actually time! A person needs to take two hours out of their day to offer a walking tour, cooking class, etc.
Arguably, time is the most scarce resource we have. People value their time highly, which means the marginal cost (in this case the opportunity cost) of them offering an activity is very high. Add to that the fact that individuals do not benefit from any sort of economy of scale, and that most likely means that they cannot compete with businesses on price (which is arguably where AirBnB is winning in its biggest market, NYC).
So of course, I'm not saying an "AirBnB for Activities" is not possible, but some fundamental problems make it significantly more difficult than one might initially expect. Personally I think Vayable is doing a great job, but time will tell...
Oh also, AirBnB took something that already was happening (sublets on Craigslist) and just rebranded/made it better. Not much "Activities" activity going on on Craigslist. It's mostly for services, like painting, plumbing, car mechanics, etc. So you sometimes question if the demand actually even exists?
Anyway, I could write a loooong post-mortem on Skyara but you get my point.
How are these sites overcoming the chicken and egg issue of attracting interesting activities from locals? Gathering enough visitors to the site to make transactions meaningful?
It's a serious question and one that's not secret sauce, I'd argue. The execution of your business and that of any sticky viral hooks you can build in will leave you at the winner's circle years from now.
So I like 7, building a database of biology but to tackle that head on would be impractical (financially). That is the end goal that we have at my startup, but we are starting out by helping labs manage their reagent and chemical inventories first. Sounds mundane but the eventual goal is to get to a crowd-sourced global database for biology. Remains to be seen how it pans out.
My point is that such lists of top X ideas can be useful but often the biggest challenge is plotting the trajectory. And often the path is not a straight line.
Also, I've been meaning to contact those guys at Quartzy too. Can I also get in on the strategic partnering?
We have some very real problems in this world, but all you seem to care are iPhone/Android apps and stupid websites (copied from one another I guess).
One thing software people always forget is how expensive it is to perform R&D on real, physical things. Software is practically free to produce in comparison - your big campus of 1000 engineers, with free lunch and masseuses, is practically free in comparison to say, the cost of developing a new drug, or introducing a revolutionary new jet engine.
I don't think it's necessarily true that VCs only care about iPhone/Android apps, but they honestly cannot afford to invest in "real" engineering. The risks are just as great, and the stakes are far, far higher, beyond the deep pockets of many angels and VCs.
Perhaps investors look at FB, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and think that these 4 statistical anomalies are examples to follow, and thus fund companies with similar ideas?
On the other hand, I have a hard time believing that the "real problems" aren't being addressed by anyone.
We are running a biological data warehouse, with a clean API in 4 languages. The problem is that the source data are incredibly messy and you have a lot of "blank" values. People then do not know if data are missing or if there really are no data to begin with. Who does the curation?
Running as FlyMine, metabolicMine, RatMine, YeastMine, TargetMine etc.
This though: Bitcoin - "Let the IRS/FEDs be involved and stick to the law." You need to file under Things that will never happen. The U.S. will not permit a rogue currency.
I am not being cute here, but the power of any government is their monopoly on violence. That assumes, however, that the government knows whom they are up against.
What if the next generation cryptocurrency was truly anonymous? Then you wouldn't be able to stop it, even if you wanted to.
We spend our lives accumulating valuable knowledge and relationships.
Then we allow our elders to just die and let that knowledge and their relationships die with them.
Why are youngsters forced into teaching jobs, when they have no life experience to novate to kids?
Find a mechanism for achieving a solid transfer of knowledge from the elderly to the young (the caveat being the young need to be taught to reason for themselves and filter out the less useful bits)
For the record: sending kids to school does not equal them being educated or learned.
Though you may have not thought of something: wisdom (which is what you seem to be referring to) works something like this:
wisdom = knowledge(experience(actions(decisions * time) * time) * time) * time //why do I always end up writing lisp?
We spend our whole lives developing our wisdom, but we also spend our whole lives learning how to acquire it, and how to understand it.
How do we transfer something that strictly depends on time and discipline (when time is undefined for all, and discipline is lacking)?
I love the lisp... can I post it on twitter? What's your twitter handle?
I do not use twitter, but you can feel free to tweet it. Just send the profits of the tweet to the FSF. =)
BTW - people are working on this in the US, though it moves more slowly due to state by state regulations
As someone who is itching to start an e-learning startup, what would be some ways to implement this?
For the user-created lessons, maybe have an IDE-like enviroment with a domain-specific "programming language" that enables non-coders to easily create educational modules and upload them. Think SCUMM but for the e-learning domain.
As a teacher, I'd love to see this done well. But it seems most people who go into these ventures either don't get education, or don't get technology. It seems there is a pretty small group of people in the world who really get both fields. It's also hard to put together a team of people who get both. And finally, the profit motive kills a lot of education endeavors. Education is fundamentally a human right, and profit motives tend to exaggerate the achievement gap. There is plenty of room for new thinking in this area.
Your second big problem is getting anyone to actually contribute a lesson plan in a way that is consistent with the format you're trying to structure things. People aren't going to make one from scratch for you, for free. So you either pay people or accept all manner of half-baked, duplicate lesson plans.
They have presences in USA, but have exploded in the UK because the Usury laws are less restrictive.
And that evenings Channel 4 news piece where the industry spokesman talks about it.
In Finland we have tens of companies offering short term cash loans based on text messages. I know few of these guys. If well-executed, these companies are money making machines, but they have very little of moat. You can enter this industry easily, if you have enough cash for initial advertising.
Long story short: I don't want to start a startup that sends me to jail or regulatory hell if it becomes successful.
If anyone wants to buy coinpur.se, let me know. :)
Current DNA logic gates can already do sequence recognition as sensors in vivo but also provide flexible signals.
Also, there are already standardized part registries out there, like BioBricks.
And lastly, a YC for biotech wouldn't work because of the time frame, but even more so because of regulations. Anyone can build a device or drug, but it's all proof of concept until you put it in a lab or clinical study.
Oops, also that there are a bunch of academic bioCAD programs. Tinkercell is one that does extensive simulations.
Someone here stated the moore's law for sequencing. Which while true needs disruptive startups for each transition. Fortunately or unfortunately these startups dont work like an intel doing similar drudgery year after year to continue doubling... each major leap happens by a radical switch of strategy. As he states the case of Ion Torrent, each step centers around an awesome breaktrhough. But it also raises the question... Will the cost of computation become a bottleneck for a 99 cent genome. Sequencing and synthesis are a lot more useful than just medical diagnosis. Let us not undermine the value of a 99 cent genome or a 1 cent genome sequencing/synthesis capability.
Some of us are out here developing physical things and process technology and nobody wants to give us a second look. Putting things in boxes isn't sexy enough, unless you're Apple.
NASA is no startup!
A few are a ways out and even then are hard sells (even w/ holodecks, how would you sell them? Home, arcades? Who's the market and how much money do they have? Hardly a slam dunk) I'm thinking the 3do times 100 for holodeck development/productization.
Yardsale isn't bad, but Craigslist is pretty close as is (my gf goes crazy when she sees yard sale signs (instant, location based discovery) but she checks craigslist too.
A bunch--I'm not sure what they mean. Even the education one is much harder than it might seem, at least as a business. Im really rooting for codecademy and the like, but they've got a tough road as its hard to get most people interested in educating themselves, and even moreso to get them to pay.
How about starting with a market with money and a problem and working backwards?
There are several Health focused YC-clones: Rockhealth, Healthbox, Blueprint, etc.
Also it's not clear what "Etsy for IP" means, there are already stock photo libraries, sites for selling code snippets, sites for selling brandnames, etc. Is there a particular type of IP you're thinking about?
Health focused YC clones are out there, there are no bio tech focused ones though.
On the Etsy for IP. I never felt much of a community with stock photo websites. I suppose this site would pull together all forms of IP under the platform.
In general, I think in the startup space, even subtle variation on the idea and positioning (given great execution) can lead to a winning startup.
A couple of mine are:
- Repurpose the top floors of parking garages to incorporate green space in urban centers
- Black Hole Taxi: Marketplace for on demand user video (eg - I pay you a fee to walk around the grand canyon)
- Open spaces that are free co-working CS learning centers for middle and high schoolers (I'm working on one in Los Angeles)
- Mixergy for the rest of business (eg. the BUSINESS of yoga, the BUSINESS of real estate brokerage, the BUSINESS of photography) not just how to do 5 new poses, hold a better open house, craft a better photo
...I'm pretty sure you're not going to save much mass by soaking in a year of sunlight...
 for example: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=10...
Adwords/Analytics is great, because you can see exactly how much money you're spending, and exactly how many sales/conversions/downloads you're getting for that money.
In the print world, this becomes much harder to measure. I'm looking at easy ways to make that happen
I've thought about this one myself. Seems like an industry ripe for disruption too: with complex, expensive systems from a monopoly player (ADP). Can anyone offer some insight as to why we haven't seen startups in this space?
"Welcome to Wonga. We can deposit up to £400 in your bank account by 20:39 today. Representative APR 4214%."
Cost of implementing this idea: your soul, your self-respect. Even if you pour all of the proceeds into "build a holodeck".
The same could really be said about all of technology.
Personally, I try to view my life as an RPG. Ie levelling up, acquiring awesome loot, raiding with my loyal guild mates, etc. Fun life analogy.
Perhaps it could work like D&D except the Dungeon Masters are more like life coaches. They create the quests (goals) and decide how much experience each is worth. The toughest part is that you can't really compare the players against each other since in life you really don't all have equal opportunities like you do at the start of a video game. But, people are really motivated by competition so maybe there's a way to make it work.
We're working on that right now at munchery.com
Sounds really intriguing. What would it look like?
BTW, from what I've read of Bank Simple, this isn't what their model is. From their FAQ - "Can I use Simple with my current bank? No. Through your relationship with Simple, your money is held in an FDIC-insured account at one of our bank partners."
As a VC, I would never fund any of these. How about these twenty-five ideas for starters.
1. Combine local and real-time. (Google isn't)
2. Combine the cloud with viral marketing (Amazon isn't)
3. Disrupt green with crowd-sourcing. (Power companies aren't).
4. Curate blogging (the "blogosphere" is so wide it becomes meaningless. Get the stratosphere of the blogosphere).
5. post-pc disruption. (Fingerpaint for iPhone - 1 guy, VC-ready company. needed a mac to develop. give an Indian with no mac, no pc, nothing BUT an iPhone enough tools to disrupt post-pc)
6. scale photos. Flickr doesn't.
7. the Google of Facebook. (G+ is the Facebook of Google. Where's the Google of facebook?)
8. empower html5. (Where's the Adobe of HTML 5?)
9. the skype of documents. (Google Docs isn't it)
10. the apple of automobiles. ("iPod integration"? Give me a 'brake').
11. bring the cloud to ultramobiles. ("ultrabooks" are a joke, and the cloud is too big. Find a way to make ultrabooks/macbook airs the macs of iOS)
12. the reddit of shopping. (eBay is not it).
13. disrupt ad platforms, virally. People are sick of signing in and getting information collected (Google starting to suck)
14. one word: Firefox. (Firefox isn't it).
15. one word: Office. (Office isn't it).
16. one word: ultramobile. (MacBook isn't).
17. one word: ultralite mobile. (iOS isn't it)
18. one word: TechCrunch (TechCrunch isn't it)
19. one word: Banking (Banking isn't it)
20. one word: Trending (Analytics isn't it)
21. one word: Microblogging (Twitter isn't it)
22. one word: Dating (plenty-of-fish isn't)
23. one word: Family disruption, aka Whores. (craigslist isn't)
24. one word: disrupt paradigms. (YC isn't).
25. one word: cloud. (the cloud isn't.)
what is this, some kind of a joke? Can you even tell anymore. Disrupt this.
Thanks to the increasing powers of computers and developments in machine learning, a bunch of things which will change society in unimaginable ways will come from biotech. Aspects including principled drug design and anti-disease techniques that will make modern medicine look shamanistic, ethics of performance and intelligence boosting therapies, blurring the line between adoption and parenthood - what does it mean to be a parent if you have tampered with the genetic expression of your child so much that they share little genetic similarity to you? Increasing ability to interface with machines. People are gonna be doing it, will you need to evolve your morals or get left behind? How do you stop people from settling at local optimums, mass producing the same sets of traits and ceasing in exploring the genetic space?
Bans and censure - some will say some things shouldnt be touched but if there's any lesson that can be gotten from fantasy novels its that having a category of black magic just gives more power to the less principled. More polarization between the haves and have nots. Security - how to defend against synthetic plagues. Technology moves on inexorably. Our ability to handle the dangers of the coming age will decide our fate. Moral dilemmas like if we show ourselves incapable of surviving, is it ok to engineer compassion, long term thinking and rationality at the expense of the ability and freedom of will to choose such?
And I suspect I'm not the only one who's concept notes folder includes outlines for 4 and 12.
Some of the others might be jokes or further fetched, but this is obviously not, and you'd be silly not to see that this is going to happen soon.
I love your idea and I think we can make it work in this climate.
Build an objection detection system for all 100,000 objects a human can recognize.
Build a photo-realistic face generator.
Build a chatbot than can pass the turing test.
There are already plenty of biology databases, it's just that people don't know yet what to make out of that data.
Build an Etsy for Intellectual property
They stole my idea! I think it's good time to build that
How about ideas for those of us who aren't scientists?