« Free Startup Ideas

February 17, 2020 • 4 min read


A good way to come across startup ideas is to observe your own pain points and log them. So, I’m starting a public idea logbook here. I’ll keep adding to this thread over time.

Link to thread on Twitter →

1a/ Todo lists with built in priority order: If you have 10 things to do today ,  prioritize them for maximum impact. Take into account how much time each item will take, their relative impact, etc. and generate an ordered list of todos.

1b/ Few sub-ideas: Compare tasks on a 1–1 basis, and then by how much: 2x, 10x, 100x. Similarly ask how much time it’ll take: 1 day, 1 week or 1 month. Data entry interface for this will have to be quick and fun for it to get used at all.

2/ Neighborhood chat groups for millenials™: Walk into a geofence to join the your area group. Spend time to earn higher status. Similar to Nextdoor, but centered around group chats and fun messaging features, not around people complaining about safety issues/selling things.

3/ Real-life subtitles: Useful for traveling. You can continue speaking English, and they can speak French, and you can just read each others’ subtitles. Start building this today with ARKit. Be on stage when Apple finally debuts their AR Glasses in 202x :)

4/ AR Shopping Helper: Yet another ARKit idea. When you enter a store like Whole Foods with a grocery list, it tells you exactly what’s where so you can follow an optimized route and go pick up things. Worst case, Amazon will buy you when Apple’s AR Glasses come out.

5/ Remote-working new moms/dads: New parents in tech have to return to work much sooner than they’d ideally like (say a year). Remote work isn’t new, but it’s getting easier, gaining adoption, and this could be an interesting beachhead.

6/ LunchClub, but you “meet” only for a Zoom call. I get the advantages of meeting someone in person, but I end up sending Calendly links to schedule a call instead when the LunchClub matches (or I) have to cancel (happens more than half the time!)

7/ Text editor for businesses: Import/write a draft, solicit feedback, Grammarly + Hemingway, and then publish to company blog (WordPress/MarkDown), Mailchimp/Drip, LinkedIn, Medium and so on. Oiling the cross-publishing/formatting/scheduling pipes can give a 10x UX improvement.

8/ Next flight app: Show the next flight to get to a city. Useful for folks who’ve missed their flight, and also for premium last-min travelers. It could be an interesting beachhead into the OTA market — very similar to HotelTonight, but for flights.

9/ Browser plugin to indicate paywall links: Add a small ”$” next to links to any paywalled news resources. Bonus: Make the $ green or red based on whether you already subscribe to the paid source or not.

10/ Browser plugin to add some standard shortcuts to any site (j, k for navigation; ⌘+k for Alfred/Spotlight-style help, etc.): Browsing Hacker News should feel like using SuperHuman 🚀

11/ “Well-researched” ideas exchange: As a developer/hacker, it’s hard to come across painful real-world problems worth solving. On the flip side, most veterans in any industry have an “only if someone can solve this” problem ready to be handed out. Connect the two.

12/ Quora on Twitter: Scrape accounts that consistently ask good questions, and make a better interface to archive the crowdsourced answers. Similar to ThreadReader app, but more focussed on Q&A instead of threads.

13/ Snapchat stories, but for audio: It’s like listening to voicemails that auto-delete within a day. The teenagers don’t even know what voicemails are and might be into it! 🤷‍♂️

14/ Snapchat stories, but text-only. Or call it Ephemeral Twitter: what’s shared changes when it auto-deletes within a day. This and the previous idea are both about adding some interesting limits/restrictions to Snap/Insta stories (akin to Twitter’s 140 chars or Vine’s 6 secs!)

15/ Generate a route to roam a new city based on your friends’ Instagram feeds: 20-somethings love telling their friends how much they loved their recommendations. Make the flow smoother. FB will eventually block (or buy) you if it works (Travel recs + photo check-ins)

16/ Autotune for CSS: A smart linter-type tool that can catch common usability problems like painfully small tap targets on mobile, >70 characters wide paragraphs on desktops, inconsistent CTA button styles, misaligned boxes, and other atrocities.

17/ App for writing letters: A long-form messaging app with artificial delay built-in. Yes, it’s an email, but it takes 3 days to reach and costs 50 cents. You can check your app inbox only at home (geofenced). Retain the exciting parts of sending a postcard/letter! 😊

18/ Remixes for UI Design: Give the Sketch file of your project to other UI designers to let them remix it “in their style”. Similar to how music producers remix each other’s tracks. Get better at UI design by seeing how someone else makes it better.

19/ Minimal News: Text-only news aggregator with 30 informative, non-clickbaity headlines. Similar to text.npr.org, but more multi-source, and much more readable and personalized. There’s magic to the no-nonsense text-only style of Hacker News.

20/ A way to access just the Table of Contents of all the popular non-fiction self-help books. Come to think of it, most of them can be summarized with just the TOC, plus a line or two per chapter.

21/ Medium, but with GitHub backup: Or call it GitHub for text/publishing. I still prefer the UX of writing in a clean WYSIWYG editor to publish on a blog on my own domain, but want the posts backed up on GitHub (with the revision history + issues/PR’s). Closely related to #7.