Yesterday’s startup idea brought up an interesting dilema that many entrepreneurs are bound to encounter. Where do you draw the line between making a profit and staying true to your core beliefs?
Let’s start with an example. Logan has a great idea for a startup that maps Flickr photos to a Pandora stream to create a customized slideshow for your music (i.e. if you have chill music like Jack Johnson, you’d get a stream of beach pics). The site starts off slow but after the first year it starts doing pretty well, maybe pulling in 15-30K in profit each year from AdSense revenue. Not bad, but a few years down the road Logan’s neighbor hears about the extra income he’s earning on the Internet. She picks up a video camera from eBay, hires a few…ummmm…professional actresses, and within three months she’s made more than Logan has total over 5 years.
That’s a pretty obvious example, but where is the line? If write a blog that provides advice to Texas Hold ’em players, that’s fine. But what if you write software that uses previous knowledge of online poker hands that makes suggestions whether to bet (and how much)? Or if you set up a botnet to control 7 of the 8 positions at a high stakes table?
Where do you draw the line? Have you ever had an idea that is a pretty solid money maker but conflicts with your morals? Please post any stories in the comments section, I’d love to hear them!