Some people have no trouble coming up with ideas… it’s true – ideas are cheap. But what about ideas that people are willing to pay for? In my opinion, those ideas aren’t cheap – they’re valuable, and hard to come by. Unless you have spent a lot of time in a certain industry or niche, it’s hard to come up with real solutions to real problems people will pay for. There are billions of people on this Earth, and chances are someone has created a robust solution if it was a real problem.
That said, here are some ideas that I haven’t seen yet. They’re not just random ideas, they’re ideas I’m willing to pay cold hard cash for.
1) Web App Logs as a service
With Rails or any other application framework, it’s easy to write to logs. The hard part is parsing, searching and filtering those log files to find what you want. Recently, I’ve been building an app that crawls a bunch of websites using proxies. If a certain proxy fails, I want to log that. But at the end of the day, if I want to see which proxies failed, and how many times, I have to do a bunch of grepping. I’d love to see all this data in some fancy GUI, with dimensions I can filter and order by.
Ideally, this service would be a web service, where I can POST my logs (I would recommend using the delayed_job gem if you’re using Rails). As an addon, it could also email certain logs (such as a major failure) to me.
I know there are some services out there, such as Coalmine, but I haven’t tried them. It’s definitely a real problem for many developers. This is something I would gladly pay $20/month for, and something very attractive for developers in startups, or anyone working in a “build it fast” mode.
2) Content Insight as a service
Content marketing has become a very popular marketing strategy this year. A major problem though is coming up with content ideas that others will want to share through social media. Let’s say I am writing for Men’s Fitness, and I want to write an article about the Paleo Diet. That’s a very general topic, how do I know what people want to know about Paleo?
One way to do so is through searching through Twitter and various forums to see what people are asking about Paleo. But wouldn’t it be great to have all this information through a website? Where I can see what popular articles about Paleo are being shared for the past 30 months. Where I can see what popular questions people are asking in Q&A forums and communities.
Mix this with a social media analytics service that can analyze all my Twitter or Facebook followers, and see what type of content they usually share. Is it predominantly videos? pictures? blog posts?
If you talk to people in the social media and content marketing industry, you’ll know that coming up with ideas for compelling content is a very hard problem.
3) Competitor Analysis through Twitter
This one is probably the most useful of all my ideas, but arguably the riskiest, and the hardest to implement. Twitter imposes harsh limits on its API, but let’s ignore that for a second… imagine if you could gather a bunch of metrics on all the followers for a specific Twitter account. For example, suppose your competitor is WebEX. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a list of Twitter users who follow WebEX, their geographics, which ones are most likely corporate customers, which ones are most likely journalists, etc? Furthermore, what if you knew which specific corporations are following them, for how long, and what industry they’re in.
Once you have a list of followers, you can follow these people, interact with them, and in the future try to convert them over to your product. The possibilities are endless. This type of competitive analysis exists for other verticals such as links (OpenSiteExplorer), but I think this type of analysis would be even more useful in getting leads.