A Smarter Way to Shop For Cars

Buying a car (new or used) is a pain point for many people.

Why? Because it’s a big purchase and there’s a general distrust of car dealers.

Although the Internet has brought about increased transparency, and made it more difficult for dealers to gouge buyers, there is still a lot of room for an improved car-buying experience.

New Cars

For new cars, the system I’m thinking of could be like a reverse auction system. A customer would enter the car they’re looking for, and dealers would bid for their business.

This is easier for new cars because a certain model of Camry for example is the same at Dealer A as it is at Dealer B.

Dealers would know they are in competition with each other and would have incentive to offer their best price. And customers, knowing the “bids” of all the nearby stores, would have better confidence in knowing they’re getting a good deal without having to haggle.

In an important contrast with other car shopping sites, your personal contact information would NOT be sold to the dealers. There’s nothing that pisses off customers more than getting hounded by salespeople when all they’re trying to find out is an honest price.

The system could have feedback mechanisms in place to reward good service and communication. And to punish dealers who abuse the system.

Used Cars

For used cars, the set-up would be a little trickier, but may be even more valuable. Instead of searching classifieds and other websites, customers could enter in the car they’re looking for either by model or type.

For example, you could put in Ford Escape 2006-2008, under 70,000 miles. Or you could input Small SUV, under 70,000 miles.

Similarly, dealers could then compete for your business in an open and transparent way.

Everyone wins. You get a better deal with less effort, and dealers get access to hot leads and only have to pay when they make a sale.


You’ll need to build a tracking system in which you earn a commission on each sale generated through the site, much like an affiliate marketing set-up.


Business Ideas: From the Weird and Wacky to the Wildly Successful

People come up with business ideas and inventions all the time. Some are life-changing, for instance, where would we be without the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?

But others not so much. If you need more convincing just check out the hit entrepreneurial TV show, Shark Tank.

If you haven’t seen it, it works like this: someone has a business idea but lacks the money, so they have to convince a panel of successful and wealthy business experts to invest in the idea.

Amongst those that didn’t win any investment were beer flavored ice cream and doggie treat tins. In the UK version of Shark Tank, called Dragons’ Den, one inventor came up with the DriveSafe Glove. In terms of how it worked, it wasn’t too difficult: it was a single glove which the driver put on the right hand to serve as a reminder when travelling abroad to drive on the right-hand side.

There’s also been cardboard beach furniture and edible greeting cards for pet pooches.  This invention was called Greet Me Eat Me – and it did exactly what it said on the tin. Pet owners would send edible card to their fluffy friends whereupon the dog could eat it.

And then there’s SuperKnees. They look a bit like roller-skates but are strapped to your knees. Why would you want to do that? Well, inventor Stipan Saulich reckons they increase work potential and reduce knee stress as well as being time saving devices.

But if you’re looking to make more money, without the hassle of coming up with an invention, then it might be worth considering working for yourself. This could involve retraining, for example learning a trade or skill, both of which are ear-marked as areas where there are jobs.

Heading into 2013 who knows what the next big thing is in business. There’s been plenty of chatter about green issues, so could it be something with sustainability. Or perhaps another Apple must-have item. And when it comes to setting up your own business, there’s nothing to hold you back – gender, race or even age.

Take Ashley Qualls. Back in 2004, at the height of the My Space boom, Ashley set up WhateverLife.com. Ashley, who was then 14, tapped into the idea of personalising people’s profiles and teaching coding and graphics design. Her site went onto become a massive success, garnering more traffic than the readership of established teen magazines such as Teen Vogue and Seventeen. And at one stage, it even scored more hits than CBS.com. Such was the draw that Ashley was offered, but declined, $1.5 million plus a car to sell the site.

Another successful teen entrepreneur was Edinburgh-born Fraser Doherty. By 18, Fraser had set up his own jam business, Super Jam. It successfully tapped into the surge in healthy foods, using fruits like cranberries and grape juice instead of sugar. Beginning with trade shows and farmers markets, Fraser, the brand went on to be stocked nationwide in the UK, thanks to a deal with British supermarket chain, Waitrose.

Of course, there are always those other ideas:  those wacky ones which are just that, wacky. And for that we’re still grateful, because you never know where that creative spark will lead. And if we were all the same, the world would be a dull place.

On Demand Business Advice Marketplace for Entrepreneurs

There are lots of small business owners all over the world, in every vertical, that would benefit from talking to someone with a wealth of experience in their vertical. And they want to talk to that person right now. The alternative is to spend lots of time networking and finding people to talk to. Even then, the chances that the person they find will be a) knowledgeable and b) willing to speak to them and give strategic advice are pretty minimal.

Entrepreneurs and business owners already are paying for an introduction to these contacts — now they are paying for them in time rather than money.

I’d pay money to be able to get on the phone with someone extremely knowledgeable about startup law. Or human resources. Or the travel industry.

Additionally, it’ll be a good lead source for these experts to speak to more potential clients.

What it’ll take:

  • Profile pages for the experts, and some way to prove they are trusted and knowledgeable
  • Search interface to search areas of expertise, and see who is online right now and ready for a phone call
  • Some way to collect payments
  • Passion and tenacity :)
  • Marketing chops to find both the experts and build a real brand consumers trust

Voomly, but specific to knowledgeable business experts.

Yes, I’m willing to pay for a connection with the right expert. Are you?

[Photo via smartpassiveincome.com]

How to Increase Your Revenue for a Youth Hostel

Do you run a youth hostel? Do you want to find ways to make more money than you are currently making?

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Sell beer (no brainer)
  • Sell water
  • Sell local tours
  • Organize a pub crawl
  • Start a bar inside (& sell lots of shots)
  • In-house tourist guides
  • Charge $1 for sheets
  • Laundry service (laundry costs while traveling)
  • Start a chain of hostels across multiple cities and cross promote
  • Negotiate special deals (& affiliate program) with a few local restaurants
  • Airport / train / bus pick-up and drop off

All in the effort to provide the perfect hostel

Beer Delivery Marketplace for Fraternities

Do you have a liquor license and sell beer? Do you want more customers? Do you want customers that order several hundred dollars of beer at once? Is there a fraternity nearby?

If the answer to all four questions is yes, then you should start a beer delivery service.

The concept is pretty simple. Fraternities have large parties, which require lots of alcohol. At Sigma Phi Epsilon from 2002-2005, we purchased between 30-90 cases of Keystone Light and Keystone Ice at a time for our parties. We made large purchases on average 4 times per month.

Certainly delivery is more convenient than having to find a truck to go pick up the beer. Beer stores nearby want fraternity business due to the large order sizes. Charge an additional fee in exchange for delivering large quantities of beer.

From the fraternity social chair’s perspective (the person who organizes the parties), the ideal scenario would be to input the desired order into an online form (for example – 40 cases of Keystone Light and 20 cases of Keystone Ice) — and get quotes back from beer stores within X miles. The quotes would contain the quantity of beer (& brand), as well as what the delivery would cost if they choose that option (delivery should be optional).

What’s required:

  • Liquor license & store
  • Nearby fraternity
  • Truck and labor to deliver up to 100 cases of beer
  • Email & phone
  • Software chops to build a simple request and respond marketplace (if you want to go the extra mile)