Five areas have been getting me thinking about startup opportunities lately:
Creating value from public content.
Stocktwits is aggregating and providing analytics on tweets about stocks. Major brands have dozens of tools for measuring sentiment, mindshare, and more from brand mentions in almost any online context. With thousands of posts per second to twitter alone talking about products, media, events, websites, politicians, and more… what other opportunities are there to index, analyze, and create value from publicly-posted content?
Whether the goal is making more money, finding new friends, or just feeling good about your self, everyone has personal challenges that don’t have clear repeatable solutions. But that doesn’t mean tools and structures can’t be created to help. Right now we’re seeing a growing number of ‘quantified self’ tools on the rise, primarily around productivity, fitness, and nutrition.
Note that many of the most successful tools aren’t digital recreations of specific methods (e.g. the GTD method, P90X, Atkins diet), but instead are method-agnostic tools that help to capture data, and make it easy to understand (e.g. RescueTime, RunKeeper, LoseIt).
There’s room to do this for other areas of personal improvement, providing tools that make planning, visualization, and tracking easier for the increasing number of people pursuing conscious self-development.
Making content creation easier.
The genie is out of the bottle with inbound marketing, and every company is learning it must produce content to educate, entertain, and attract the attention of customers. Infographics are not a trend any more than blogging itself has been. Companies need help crafting good visuals, blog posts, even tweets.
Tools that provide design assistance, writing assistance, research assistance, or even inspiration assistance can become much more valuable when combined with domain expertise and a web app model of continual improvement, updates, and additions.
Suites of tools for digital professionals.
Aviary, Fog Creek Software, 37 Signals have all created tools that individually solve relatively small problems for a relatively small portion of a larger market. Digital professionals around the world share similar titles, yet need very different tools from one another depending on their industry, team size, experience level, and more.
Rather than building and marketing a one-size-fits-poorly mega-app, there are opportunities to build modular tools for the growing number of information workers: virtual assistants, analysts, content producers, community managers, and marketers across countless new platforms (mobile, social, video, etc.).
Small town / rural economies
I’m from a small town in North Georgia myself, and I can tell you that it’s a difference of night and day between my hometown economy and that of Boston, or Atlanta, or even a mid-size city like Savannah. I don’t underestimate the difficulty of scaling a venture across enough small towns to make it profitable, but difficult is not impossible.
Finding inefficiencies that can be reduced, or opportunities to reconnect small towns to the benefits of globalization and the information economy, is a challenge that must be met by someone in America. Why not us?
I’ve been thinking about interests instead of ideas because ideas are easy. You’ve probably had several just from reading through the prompts above. But ideas are also limiting. It’s much harder to find people who want to work on a particular idea than it is to find people who are similarly enthused about working on something in an area of interest, or even just working with someone who’s interested in similar things.
This week I’m headed to Founder Matchup and Boston Startup Weekend, hoping to connect with some developers and designers who feel the same. If you’re interested in connecting (there or otherwise), drop me a line: jay [.dot.] neely [@at@] socialstrategist [.dot.] com