10 Startup Ideas to Solve Everyday Problems
I’ve never really considered myself much of an idea person. However, that started to change when I began thinking differently about where good ideas come from. After reading a few articles and watching some videos on YouTube for my Comm 579 class, I learned that the best ideas come from thinking about solutions to everyday problems. So, I started to talk to people about their problems (in a non-therapist kind of way). Luckily, I surround myself with very interesting people who encounter all sorts of challenges — from my sister who works with deaf students, my friends who are starting a Podcast about superheroes in LA to the elementary school kids I work with who hate reading.
After a few conversations, some via Skype, here are 10 problems and some possible solutions:
1. Knock, Knock! It’s College: The traditional way of educating students and parents about college is through long workshops, which are often held during inconvenient times. These seminars typically have very low attendance and can be impersonal. A different way to deliver this content and educate the entire family is through a home visitation program. Trained personnel would visit families to share information, help students through the application process and answer financial questions in the convenience of their own homes.
2. Top Baker: Everyone is always looking for new ways to celebrate their birthdays and engage in some fun activities with friends. Employers are also on the lookout for new team building ideas and strategies to ensure work teams communicate well with each other and can develop better working relationships. The solution is to create a baking center where people can work in teams to bake cakes, cupcakes and other tasty desserts. This center will be open to teams who want to work on developing relationships and also to kids and grown ups who are looking for a new and exciting way to spend their birthday or other special celebration.
3. Healing the Homeless: People who are homeless sometimes suffer from other illnesses and diseases, including mental illnesses. Finding a place to live is a priority and they don’t have the resources or the urgency to find help for their mental disorders. Art therapy can help homeless people who suffer from mental illnesses tackle their conflicts without the use of words. This type of approach would introduce clients to a different method of healing; one that focuses on expression and isn’t as formal or traditional.
4. From ASL to English: Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are taught American Sign Language in order to communicate. This language is all about communicating in concepts, which is different than Standard English. As a result, when deaf students write, they do so in concepts. The solution is to develop software that can translate students’ signs into coherent and complete English sentences. This will help deaf students learn to read and write Standard English.
5. “Follow Me” to College: No matter how many workshops, reminders and flyers teachers create to inform students about upcoming deadlines related to the college application process, students will either ignore them because they are unappealing, procrastinate because they are too busy or completely forget the info. The college application process is hard enough to navigate through, especially if you are a first-generation student who has limited resources at your school and simply too overwhelmed with assignments and extracurricular activities to remember all the steps. The solution? Have students create fun and engaging videos, vines, GIFS and pictures to post on social media with deadlines and important tips about applying to college. Short, fun content developed by students for students would be a sure way to get the message across.
6. Touch-screen ordering: Language barriers are a reality for many people in this country, especially for the deaf community. While there have been many tech advances that have made it easier for deaf people to communicate, ordering food at restaurants can prove to be very challenging, especially at the drive thru. One solution would be to install touch-screen kiosks at the drive thru. This technology would help make the ordering process less frustrating and more accurate.
7. Read and Level Up: In the era of smartphones, television, iPads and laptops, fewer kids are reading and spending more time on electronics. Kids no longer read for pleasure, actually many don’t like to read at all. But they love Minecraft. Solution? Create apps and games that include character backgrounds and short stories to go with the game objective in order for the player to earn more coins or badges, unlock new features and move up a level. Stories and articles could be coupled with short quizzes to check for comprehension.
8. Food Deals on Wheels: Shopping for food and making your own dinner is usually a healthier alternative than fast food or take out but grocery stores are not always accessible or convenient. In fact, many areas in Los Angeles are known as food desserts due to the lack of healthy food options. But what if the grocery store came to you? A mobile grocery store that would drive around residential areas could solve the problem of accessibility. This “store” could even accept EBT to make it even easier for low-income families to afford healthy food.
9. Dwelling for Doers: Small business owners and entrepreneurs like artists and craftspeople can usually make good money selling their items at tradeshows or craft fairs but unfortunately for many of them, it is an expense they cannot afford. Many of these shows travel and take place in different cities and states. A solution would be to create an online platform similar to Airbnb but strictly for craftspeople to seek lodging and host other artists during fairs and shows. This would help these entrepreneurs save on expensive hotels while building relationships and sharing best practices with fellow artists.
10. The Community Hub: New public schools in Los Angeles are equipped with state of the art facilities, modern libraries, gyms, large community or parent centers and some even have a swimming pool. However, these schools do not open the use of their facilities to the community. One idea is to establish a public-private partnership to allow the nearby residents access to the school facilities after regular school hours. Local librarians could volunteer at the school library, the police department could patrol the area to ensure security, nonprofits could offer programming to students and their families and the whole community could gather for informal get-togethers. It’s a win-win.