Brainstorm – Illegal Ideas

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Coming up with a new startup idea every single freakin’ day is hard.  To keep the ideas flowing, I’ve got a variety of brainstorming techniques I like to use.  One fun excercise I’m trying out today is thinking up ideas that would be awesome…except for one tiny little detail – they’re against the law.  One caveat to that: although the idea might be against the law, I want to keep it within some ethical bounds.  No ninja-for-hire or sites here.

First idea is an easy one.  It would be a Napster-like site where you could download any song, movie, or TV show ever made.  Forget torrents – the content would be hosted on a *fast* centralized server for downloading content, which would also be available online for instant streaming.  This would be hands-down one of the most popular sites on the Internet. 

The closest I’ve seen to this idea is the new  These guys have gusto – they’re basically paying the up-front costs to allow users to play on-demand streaming music in hopes that enough people buy the album from their site.  It’s a race to see if their user base can swell big enough for them to get bought out before they run out of funding.  Check it out while it lasts!

OK, next idea.  Disclaimer on this one: I don’t use or advocate the use of any non-legal substances.  With that out of the way – a site where you could purchase a small amount of a special type of herb that would be delivered fresh to your door within 48 hours.  Maybe just enough to fill your perscription or weave a small hemp potholder or something.  🙂

Here’s one’s that a little less obviously illegal – a social networking site that pays you for each new member you recruit.  Here’s how this could work.  You pay $5 to join.  For every friend that you recruit to join the site, you’d earn an additional $2.50.  For each of their friends that they recruit, you earn another $1.  And for the friends of friends of friends, another $.50.  In other words, a classic pyramid scheme.

OK, now let’s do the math.  Let’s say you pay your $5, you convince 5 friends to join, they have 5 of their friends, and those users recruit 5 of their friends.  The total you’d earn would be 5 * $2.50 + 25 * $1 + 125 * $.50 = $100 (thanks, Instacalc!).  As site owner, you’d earn a minimum of $1 per new user and have a built-in recruitment engine that would grow your earnings exponentially. 

Now it’s your turn – forget about those pesky laws, let’s hear some of your illegal ideas in the comments below.


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