Product ideas

For a long time I’ve written down every single product idea that’s popped into my head. Occasionally I’ll go back through all the ideas I’ve written down and do some contemplating. In some sort of semi-regular fashion, I’m now going to try to post the most recent ideas I’ve written down. I’ll also try to go through each one and evaluate market / need, feasibility to build, whether or not it currently it exists and if it’s worth building. All of this is geared towards thinking about new product even more than I already do and getting closer to once again scratching my entrepreneurial itch. I really need to build something new.

A chrome plugin to go through my gmail account and automatically give me a list of sites where I’ve created logins.

After the Heartbleed vulnerability was exposed, I went through and updated the passwords to every online account I could think of. The exercise of just trying to list all the places I had accounts was difficult. It would have been convenient if there was a Chrome plugin to just scan the last few years of emails to my personal account and return a list of places I most likely had an account. It would also be useful to know how many places I had random accounts that I wanted to delete to clean up my digital footprint.

While I could see a need for this, I can’t imagine anyone paying money for it. I certainly wouldn’t pay. While it could be a fun weekend project, it would probably take quite a bit of work to get it to the point where it was accurate enough to provide significant utility to a user. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything similar to this existing already, but if you know of something, let me know.

3rd party user discovery for Snapchat or just make it stop loading so slowly.

The second part was partly a joke, but Snapchat loads so incredibly slowly for me. I suppose it is loading 720p and higher quality video, but it still seems unreasonably slow, even on wifi. The real potential product here is around user discovery. I get that part of the allure of Snapchat is that its pseudo-anonymous nature doesn’t allow for follower counts and leader boards. With the recently launched emoji feature and the resulting hurt feelings, maybe they are trying to slowly warm up their users to the idea of a basic follower count.

I remember back in the early days of Twitter the only way to find users to follow was from the very narrow suggested users list. Lots of people (myself included) were writing lists of “top twitter users you don’t follow” and lists of users from small niches. One of the keys to enjoying a social platform is finding good content to enjoy. With very basic features around finding users, it was tough to find people to follow. Along came Digg founder Kevin Rose. He launched WeFollow.com as a side project and it quickly became the place to find users to follow and the place to get listed as a power user. It was quickly acquired, although the terms were never made public.

While Snapchat’s user discovery features have improved, they are still lacking. Unless you know the exact match of a username or have the person in your contacts (and they’ve connected a phone number to their account) there is no other way to find them. Just like Twitter, circa early 2009, there are tons of blog posts and subreddits touting top users on Snapchat you should be following. There isn’t much else though, not beyond word of mouth.

Take a user like @caseyneistat for instance. He’s this incredible filmmaker here in NYC. I follow his work in general, so I’m aware that he’s constantly making snapchat stories (and posting them to a YouTube channel), but how else would you become aware of someone making great content like him? There’s also the brand component, I’m sure there are lots of brands that would put resources into developing content which can reasonably be found organically instead of paying exorbitant placement fees to be included in the official discover feature.

I think this one could be worth building, if you could figure out how to properly rank people using an almost anonymous service and know a bit about user acquisition. I can’t really think of a good method to do this outside of requiring people to register for this hypothetical snapchat user discovery site and then asking them to replicate the users they follow on the real snapchat. Seems like quite a bit of friction in exchange for not much reward. Maybe you could build custom user stat pages that include the auto-follow QR ghost and some basic stats that people could then link through other social profiles. Another route could be to have a Snapchat social icon that would sit alongside the other typical ones (FB, Twitter, etc.) on the web and on click it would pop up the QR ghost for people to use. This could be a valuable feature to incentivize people to sign up and be listed in the first place.

A basic mockup using TheVerge.com as a template showing how the embedded feature might work for users.

Having a high amount of traffic the first way to monetize that comes to mind would be paid placements in different areas for users trying to gain more users themselves (most likely mainly brands). I hate to use the “get big and figure it out later” mentality for thinking about how this would make money. Maybe at the end of the day this is more of a feature than a product and you don’t want to be entirely dependent on someone else’s platform. Snapchat could launch a feature overnight and just put you out of business.

When I scroll to top of twitter timeline — instead of showing random tweets from my followers’ followers, show me the list view of trending topics instead.

This isn’t really a product idea so much as a gripe about Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Twitter, but lately they have been injecting a bunch of random tweets into my feed. I can understand the ads, but if I wanted to follow to see those tweets, I’d follow those users. Seems like showing the trending topic list instead of random tweets and random favorites would be a much better method of getting users to engage in with the app, although perhaps they have some data on number of users you follow being a better indicator of how engaged you’ll be and that’s why they are trying to push people to follow more users.

Why one of these weed delivery services hasn’t named itself seedless yet is beyond me, lost branding opportunity.

Ok, not a product idea, just a bad product joke. Instead of Seamless it would be called Seadless. I have quite a bit of risk tolerance, but I’d draw the line at selling drugs. Building a business like Uber that breaks archaic laws which exist to maintain monopolies is one thing, building a business where you run a serious risk of going to jail is another. Not worth it in the least.

Apple Watch band exchange / subscription service.

This past weekend I finally got around to scheduling time at the Apple store in the West Village to try on Apple Watches. It was quite the surreal experience. Last night I finally decided which one I wanted (Black on Black Sport) and bought it. Most of what took me so long to decide was obsessing over the band options. I ended up going with the cheapest one because I get the sense I’m going to be replacing this thing every year or two.

I’m so ready for this to ship.

It’s only a matter of time before a service to exchange watch bands pops up. I was originally thinking something more like Rent the Runway for bands. You want the $600 band for your watch for a nice event one weekend? Just pay $20 and the service will let you use one for a few days. The demand for the service only goes up as more bands are released. There could be other business models as well, maybe you’re tired of the band you’ve had for the past few months and you want to send it in and get another one. Maybe you just want to be on a subscription where you are constantly able to cycle your bands in and out. If you believe third parties will make bands (which I certainly do), just like they make cases for other Apple devices, it seems like an even better bet.

There’s a definite need if the 4–6 weeks of delay on shipping Apple Watches is to be believed. Personally, I don’t want to get involved with anything involving physical inventory though. I’ve been involved in various ecommerce projects before and doing logistics on physical inventory is a nightmare compared with digital goods. If it wasn’t for that apprehension, it seems worth building.