Category Archives: Ideas

Startup #92 – Dysfunctional Family Tree


<editor’s note:  this idea is currently in the running to win an idea contest over on the ridiculously fabulous Cambrian House site.  If you like this idea, click here to vote and help me win!  And now, on to the idea…>

This site would be based on the very popular and highly viral family tree sites (i.e. – but with a twist. Instead of creating yet another boring “Mother” “Father” “Sister” “Brother” tree, imagine having the ability to cast your friends in a fake family tree, featuring such notable dysfunctional family members as “Innappropriate Uncle Kevin” and “Batty Aunt Betty”.

Users would create the tree using their existing friends list from a social network of your choosing, and any friend you add would be encouraged to add on their own branches – eventually creating a massive forest of dysfunctionality.

Jump on over to CH to read the comments and learn more.  Thanks for your help! CambrianHouse, Home of Crowdsourcing

Startup #88 – Prize Patrol

bigcheckI was at the Microsoft company meeting last week and they were giving away a wide variety of awards.  I was hoping to win “Most Likely To Succeed”, or maybe the coveted “Most Improved”.  Of course I didn’t win (not even the congeniality prize!) but it did inspire today’s idea – a site where you could award fake prizes to your friends and family. 

The basic concept is pretty simple.  It would be set up just like an eCard site where you could browse through a list of humorous awards (“Most Likely to Get Plugs”, “Most Deceitful MySpace Photo”, “Best Suit/Top Hat/Oversized Novelty Check Combo”) or create your own.  The site could stand on it’s own and the awards could be sent via Email.  Or, better yet…wait for it…a Facebook app!  Bet you didn’t see that coming.

I got me some cats!!!  Ridiculously cute…

Startup #86 – Predict Me Elmo

pleo.jpgPicture this.  It’s Thanksgiving Day, 2007.  You’re sick of watching the Lions getting merciless beatdown yet again, so you flip to CNN and catch a story about a Sunday school teacher who gave a Million Dollar Drop to a short-order cook in order to get her hands on the last “Let’s Dance” Barbie.  You jump over to eBay and realize that the current bid on a “Bratz Forever Diamondz” Cloe doll is up to $280 with 5 hours still remaining (retail price: $29.95).  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to predict the must-have toys for the ’07 holiday season?

Today’s idea is a site centered around the idea of predicting (and consequently selling) the must-have toy of the upcoming holiday season.  First, users would join the site during the “off-season”, which would be approximately May – Oct.  Users would submit items that they feel are going to be holiday hits, and other users would vote to determine the top picks.   

As the holiday season starts to get closer, users could take advantage of the list to go out and pre-order the items they feel are going to be top picks for the holiday season.  When the holiday season rolls around, users could put their items up for sale on eBay, and post a link to their eBay auction on the “Predict Me Elmo” site.   Parents who don’t mind spending a little extra cash for the convenience of getting a hard-to-find gift could then visit the PME site, search for the hot toys (or view the top-selling toys), and access a list of the eBay auctions where they could place bids on the must-have toys.

The site could generate income by charging a monthly/yearly fee for sellers who are looking to post items on the site, along with contextual ads placed next to the auction items.

Speaking of cashing in on must-have toys, note the pic of the Pleo – if it weren’t so pricey ($349) I’d be getting on the pre-order list for that bad boy today…  🙂

Startup #85 – My Perfect Pet

lolcatrenderer2.jpglolcatrenderer2.jpgRemember this idea?  Check this out:  I love it!

In honor of my recent nuptuals, I’m going to post an idea that I stole from my beautiful and talented new bride.  We were discussing the soon-to-be newest addition to our family (either a dog or cat) and she came up with a great idea for a new site that would ask you a series of questions and then present some options for a pet that would fit the given criteria.  For example, we are looking for a pet that is relatively small, has short hair, could be left overnight without supervision, has a good temperment, etc…   The site would use the filters to display a list of specific pets that might be a good fit (i.e. Cocker Spaniel).

There are a few things you could do to spice it up a bit.  For one, the site would be extremely visual.  Instead of filling out a boring text questionaire, the site would start with a ton of small photos of pets on the bottom 2/3 of the screen, and the top 1/3 would have a series of sliders that you could adjust to choose the various filters.  As you moved the sliders, the list would be narrowed down and the images would scale up to fit the screen.  Also, once you reached a point where you have a pet that meets your criteria, you could click on the pet and the site could pull a list of animals from the local shelter that need to be saved. 


Startup #81 – Ringtone Studio

First off, “Hello CLEEEEEVEEEELAAANNDDDD!” (Cue Spinal Tap). Thanks to Kevin for having me while he is on his matrimonial getaway. My name is Colin and I write the blog Tech(st)books, which you can get to by clicking on the link in the blogroll to your right. I offered my services to fill in and was glad when Kevin agreed to let me post a couple ideas. I look forward to seeing what you guys have to say. With any luck, we won’t burn down the house while he’s sunning in Maui. Let’s get started…



I conceived of this idea while considering how much time people waste on the computer doing things that have little (if any) value once the browser window is closed. Interactive entertainment – a la Desktop Tower Defense or Digg – is big business and despite the fact that there are a zillion different things you can do on the internet, most people will choose to do somethng fun over something productive 100 times out of 100.

Ringtone sales are serious business. I have no idea how many ringtones get sold out there every day, but it’s enough to justify a seemingly endless string of ads during “Flavor of Love” reruns offering to sell me T.I. or Fergie’s latest hit for a mere $1.99 a month. (I’ve been holding out for the music being played by the band in Star Wars at the Mos Eisley Cantina, but so far it isn’t available.) Regardless, people like their ringtones as either an expression of themselves, to impress their friends, or to just here a cool bit of music when the phone rings rather then an annoying factory ringtone.

This idea is simple. Create an online music-creation space for ringtones. Attract users by offering the full functions for free, wherein they can play around creating snippets of music for no charge. Think of it as entertaining “time-wasting” at it’s finest as users are free to toy around with different instruments and sounds. If the user wants to download their “song” as an actual ring-tone, it costs them a couple bucks. Additionally, you could have a ring-tone marketplace built in and share sales revenue with the original composer.

There is a ton of music software out there. Some of this software allows you to connect an instrument to your computer and play music in to it. Some of this software is an empty sheet of music and you mouse-click where you want the notes to go and what instrument you want them to sound like. Why not take the latter of these to create this online “sandbox” where folks can make music? Right now, it’s hardly worth the trouble to hook up your Les Paul to Cakewalk (software) and riff for 15 seconds to make a ringtone. But given the option of using your mouse to make a ringtone with a full iOrchestra while you’re on your lunch-break or bored at work….people might do that. And since ringtones are so short in duration, you hardly have to be Mozart to make something functional and fun.

What say you?

Startup #79 – Coupon Me Plug-In

canadiandollars Quick shout-out to all my Canadian readers.  Anyone Canooks out there?  Anyway, I often watch the web surfing habits of my beautiful and non-geeky fiance to take a step outside my gadget-and-rss-filled bubble and see what issues are out there for the average Joe

Friday we were searching for a rental car and she had a fantastic (but time-consuming) way of finding the best price.  First, she would go to a major rental car agencies main site (i.e.  Next, she would search for the type of car and the dates to get the prices.  Then she did a Google search (I know, I’m trying to convert her!) to find a coupon code for Hertz.  She’d enter in the coupon code, and if the price didn’t go low enough, she’d repeat the process until she found a good price.

If you’ve got the time, it’s actually a great way to get discounts online.  She ended up saving us a good $100 or so, somewhere around 30% off the normal rates, or just around 2/5 of a Wii.  (You might be a geek if…you measure the cost of a nice dinner in terms of gadgets.  You know what I’m talking about.).

So today’s idea is basically a browser plug-in that does that basically automates that process.  When you open up a page with a coupon code, the plug-in searches for the best coupon for that site and auto-fills the code.  Another feature could be a quick Froogle search of other sites that are offering that same item, with links to sites that offer the item for less money than the current vendor.

Lots going on lately, apologize again for the lack of ideas.  I’m getting married two weeks from tomorrow, on the beach in Maui…I can’t wait!  As a result, things will be pretty slow around here until September.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all staying safe and enjoying your summer.

Startup #77 – AdSqueeze

Happy Friday from hot-as-freakin’-heck Orlando, Florida.  I’m on my way off to dinner so instead of posting a new idea, I’m going to steal share an idea from my Cambrian House buddy scrollinondubs (aka Sean Tierney). 

Funny story, I posted a comment on another idea and he took my comment and ran with it, creating a full-blown pitch for a new startup idea.  Wouldn’t you know it, it’s currently in the top position in the CH weekly tournament.  Go check it out and (whether you like the idea or not) please vote and let us know what you think:

Here’s a snapshot of the idea, but you really should check out the link above, it’s got more detail and even a nice little video explantion.

The idea: buy small blocks of TV ads on digital cable, pack hundreds of single-frame adverts which can be viewed by people with Tivo and other DVR’s. Embedded in the haystack of single-frame ads is an ad for a fictitious company. The viewer who spots the fake company and successfully completes the scavenger hunt wins the prize of the day. Companies and small business owners pay low relative cost to run a TV ad and get the benefit of viewers interacting and going to their site to determine if it’s real.

Why it will work: TV advertisers are freaking out because DVR technology makes it easy for viewers to skip their commercials. Rather than fight the technology, this approach embraces the capabilities of DVR’s and turns the TV-watching experience into an interactive treasure hunt. It’s unique enough that it should become a topic of buzz. Not only does it help advertisers restore viewer attention in the face DVR’s, it brings TV advertising to a new market.