“Travel Date” Match Making Service

If you’ve traveled by yourself, it’s all but inevitable you’ve gone on a “travel date” at some point during your travels. Unless you are a total hermit and stay in your room and don’t talk to strangers.

Travel dates are exactly what they sound like — a “date” with a fellow traveler to discuss travel and life. Even though you inevitably ask the same questions over and over regardless of the traveler, travel dates really are a great way to pass some time and get some fresh perspectives in the process. Sure, there are the occasional romantic dates that start from travel dates – but it’s certainly not the norm. While the early stage discussion is always the exact same — ie “where have you been, where are you from, how long are you traveling, where are you going next, what did you do in city X, etc” — the end almost always is unique. The goal of the early stage discussion is to identify a few common interests outside of travel. If there are none? Well, it’ll be a boring travel date.

I’ve gone on “travel dates” with multiple travelers in this fashion – the most recent being having a few beers in Vientiane with a 24 year old from English web designer as a result of connecting through Couchsurfing.org.

The actual business idea related to “travel dates”?

Create a matching making service for travelers who want to meet other travelers, and figure out a way to cut out the first part of the conversation from the equation — ie connect travelers based on some shared interests outside of travel rather than just based on geography (which is how most travel dates originate now).

Revenue model:

  • Ads
  • Charge a “per meeting” fee (it’s got to be small)
Challenges:
  • A travel date service seems more like a “feature” than a real business
  • You need real critical mass of travelers all across the globe
  • Incentivizing travelers to input their interests (or anything else) is not easy

Is this a business idea? Or a feature idea?

Inspiration for this travel business idea came from Christine Amorose’s tweet earlier today and Wandering Earl’s post.

Content Curation for Any Extremely Niche Industry

I think — HOPE — everyone agrees with me that there is value in content curation. If you don’t agree, you probably won’t like this business idea.  The idea is one I first mentioned this idea on my personal blog, but I wanted to expand on the idea a bit here…

Particularly in an age where the web is littered with useless crap (IMO), finding sources of news that cut out all the useless news in a given vertical is valuable to me. That’s content curation. At a high level, the business idea I’m referring to is to follow the most influential individuals in a given vertical — meaning Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and whatever other platforms are prevalent in their vertical — and summarize the absolute most relevant/interesting/important conversations and links that they share. There ARE people out there (like me) who want to follow that news, but don’t have the time to wade through everything to find the nuggets of value.

Why I like it:

  • Time intensive, but no capital is required beyond building a basic website, and an email service like MailChimp or AWeber.
  • Builds your personal brand and credibility
  • It can be done from anywhere with an internet connection
  • It works with ANY vertical. Travel. Ecotourism. Microfinance. House Sitting. Astronomy. Budget travel. NASCAR. Barbie dolls. Handicrafts. Seattle Mariners. You get the picture..

Challenges to Overcome:

  • ALL the data is public (at least in the beginning until you start to get offline tips from your audience), so anyone can easily out-curate you.
  • You need to get to know the influencers and build real relationships with them by providing value to the discussion

Business Model:

  • Charge a few dollars a month to individuals to sign up for the mailing list. once you have a few hundred paying subscribers, you start to have a real business.
  • Curate for free — and monetize your audience later with consulting, selling other products, affiliates, etc

What do you think?

[Photo via iloveseo.net]

Personalized Daily Deal Aggregator

Like most people, I subscribe to several “daily deal” sites — Groupon, Living Social, etc.  The problem is 90% of the time I have no interest in what they’re selling, so their emails mostly end up being digital clutter in my inbox.

What if you could create a customized web or smartphone app (or still email) that allowed users to select what kinds of deals they were actually interested in.  For example, just in the past couple days I’ve gotten emails for:

  • Brazilian Blowout (I don’t even know what that is!)
  • Facial Peel
  • Unlimited Yoga Classes
  • 1-Hour Massage + Chiropractic Care
  • 56% off Speaker Dock + Hair Products
  • 20 Yoga Classes
  • 3-Day Football Camp
  • $100 to Spend on Fabric
  • Family Photo Package
  • $20 for $60 of Flatware

You get the idea — there’s no targeting on these messages which means it’s a huge opportunity for someone to create it.

Your business is to aggregate and categorize all the daily deal feeds, and then send to subscribers based on their preferences.  Pretty simple.  Instead of getting a half dozen (often) irrelevant emails, people get just one (hopefully) super-relevant email.

Conversion rates go through the roof and you’ll typically be able to make an affiliate commission on each sale you refer.

A “BETTER” Social Network IS Possible

From Fred Wilson’s The Next Generation post:

Another eighth grader said he wanted to build a better social network, one that was based on the things that interested him and one that would connect him with kids around the world that were interested in the same things.

I have to agree that a BETTER social network is possible. Heck, anything – except defying gravity – is possible. Like this eighth grader Fred mentions, I desire a network that connects me with like minded individuals all across the globe. I want a network that identifies people who share my same interests, values, and habits (microfinance, social entrepreneurship, web, travel, non materialistic, etc) — no matter where they are located in the world. I want a network that knows where I am in the world (being the traveler that I am). I want a network that recommends very specific people who I should reach out to when I get to my next location. The PERFECT social network would identify potential “best”/”great” friends. All WITHOUT making me spend any time scouring the web for people to meet. I’m certainly more than willing to do some research, write them a custom request, etc. But finding the people who I know I will relate to in the first place is a hugely time consuming process right now. They are certainly out there, there’s just no central spot to find them — instead they are scattered on niche sites all across the web. Facebook helps me keep in touch with the people I already know, but it doesn’t help me meet new people.

Yes, competing with Facebook to build a better social network isn’t going to be easy. Then again, nothing worth doing is easy. Facebook’s shelf life isn’t going to be infinity — eventually another social network will come along and capture the crowd the same way Facebook did a few years ago. You just have to figure out how to be that social network…

What does a BETTER social network entail to you?

Premium Web Hosting Solution

It seems that everyday I see someone looking for a new website host that’s reliable. Witness the Tweet I just saw:

It might be time to find a new place to host… Anyone with recommendations for a top notch dedicated managed hosting company (or cloud)?

To me, that means there is an opportunity for someone to enter the web hosting market and fill a void that no one is filling adequately now.

Why doesn’t someone charge MORE money than web hosts like Dreamhost, Bluehost, ZippyKid, and GoDaddy are charging now, build the service right, ensure backups are done right, keep servers online no matter what at speeds unmatched by anyone else, provide great customer service 24/7, and dominate the market?

Oh yea. That execution thing.