Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If I were going to start a company...

I spend a lot of time talking with entrepreneurs online and offline, and many times the conversation ends up being about what types of companies would be good to start during these rough "economic" times (where investors and customers are hard to come by).

So, I decided to through some ideas into this blog -

First lets talk at a high level about what "type" of company would do well (before we actually throw out some business ideas).

First, the startup costs need to be low. It's a hard environment to raise money, especially around an idea with no product. So your best bet is to stick with Internet-based businesses. Second, the overhead needs to be close to zero. You can't have fixed costs killing you every month. Third, no inventory or big cost of sales. Fourth, the price point needs to be low (both business and consumer products).

So now, that we have a framework to work with, here are some ideas that I think have some potential (but still need some fine tuning):

1. WEBCASTING - This is the future of video on the web, and there is something intriguing about live video over the web. Companies like Stickam and UStream launched platforms that allow your to stream - but this is just the beginning. There is money to be made here in both consumer and business markets.

2. SOCIAL MARKETING - This to me is a no brainer. Anyone with some basic internet skills can build a nice business offering services to businesses by managing and marketing their social networking profiles. This includes mySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Every company should have an active presence on all these social networks, but they don't have the time or know-how to effectively build networks, communicate news and events and turn connections into profit.

3. PHONE APPS - If you have the technical know-how (or a friend who does) get working on building apps for the new generation of phones like the IPhone and G1 (Android) Google phone. This is a new frontier with limitless possibility. There are so many application ideas yet to be had. There may be a hurdle making money (unless your app takes off) - but eventually the model will mature and there will be "gold in them hills".

4. GPS (Where are you?) - GPS is now everywhere (phones, cars, etc). The idea of "location" is big and has a lot of potential in being the base for millions of application. Anything from "where's my kid" to "where was this picture taken" will be killer apps of the future. Everything will tie into GPS - and location will be a new piece of data we come to expect with anything and everything we see on the web.

5. IPTV - Youtube is just the beginning. Start thinking more about the content than the delivery of content. Just like industries of past, you need to learn that content is king, and platforms become commodities. Find ways of creating or getting your users to create dynamic content. Build a brand, and launch a media company that is 100% Internet. TV over the Web ("IPTV") will change the way all of us think about television in the future.

There you go... Five reasonably good ideas (or at least directions) where I could see real potential, and they are all somewhat market-proof. You can provide a lot of value for little cost, and ultimately scale the business as much as you can in this climate.

We are entering into a new phase on the web - and it is shifting from one side of the brain to the other... the "Creative Web" is rearing its head - and I think we will see the next set of millionaires and billionaires spawned from the Creative Side, and not the Plumbing side.

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