I want a new project! (aka: Sagewing is thinking out loud)

Well, those of you who have been reading my ranting posts for all these years know that I’ve been through several businesses in the last 10 years. I’ve created and sold a services company, an offshore development practice, an affiliate network, and done some publishing along the way. I can proudly say that each of those business efforts was profitable, but in greatly varying degrees (to say the least!).

I’ve been dabbling with some projects lately, doing some mentoring, and consulting with startups as they get going. and, I’m always accepting consulting work for the public sector software industry if the price is right, and that keeps me busy at 50% in the long-term. It’s good work, but it’s not that much fun and there’s usually tons of travel.

It’s been great, but I an longing for new, different project to sink my teeth into. I’ve been racking my brain for months - what kind of project to do?

Here’s what I DO know what what I want to do next:

  1. I’ve been a frequent flier for too long. I can travel, sure, but I’m hoping for a mostly online business that I can mostly operate from home (including from Thailand). This seems like a realistic goal.

  2. I want this new venture to involve a subject matter that I am interested in. This isn’t such a stretch because I have tons of interest - business, finance, health, entertainment, it goes on and on. However, I wouldn’t want to start up a network of mesothelioma sites even if they were very lucrative. Something interesting!

  3. No clients. I am done for a while! I don’t want to pitch. I don’t want change orders. I don’t want to maintain relationships. I’m burnt on selling and getting excited about others ideas. I don’t mind services, it’s the client service part that I’ve had enough of.

  4. I am hoping to find a partner or partners who can augment my skills well. I am skilled in business but would love some help with marketing, development, etc. I’m open to anything on this one, which is a main motivation for this post. Lot’s of smart people around here.

  5. I can fund this new venture and would actually prefer it that way. In fact, a dream come true would be to find a partner with whom I could develop a great idea and fund it myself. I’m not looking for a 250k investment, but I could comfortably launch a small business if the long-term outlook looked good. I hope to offer a very strong ownership/partnership with anyone who may fit the bill, and have an excellent existing infrastructure for legal, accounting, etc.

So, what to do? In the past I’ve dabbled with doing a simple writing project and developing affiliate income, etc. from it. But I always come back to the idea that I want something with more upside potential.

I keep racking my brain over this. What to do! I’m excited about something new, and have a lot of ‘OK’ ideas but nothing really grabs me. Inspiration anyone???

I feel you pain because I have part of the same problems that you have plus something else and I have an idea but, unlike you, I am not good at business so I wouldn’t mind to count with your expertise. And it doesn’t need 250K investment.

Been having it for long time, actually.

Actually, I have a few thousand ideas :lol:

edit: keeping it a secret … feeling curious there? :slight_smile:

[FONT=“Georgia”]I agree.

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I got one! Topical anti-inflamatory cream (AKA ibuprofen). Huge business for this - would put Ben-Gay to shame! Problem is, FDA has not approved it in the USA. It is legal in other countries. This would cure everything from muscle aches to acne. I’ll do it with you - like challenges…

Ideas are what I’m looking for. I’m good at keeping secrets, and good at signing NDA’s :slight_smile:

Hje!

For a number of years now I have been working on a project that I think has huge business implications. There are a number of domains where this set of tools could make a real impact and save many folks a lot of problems.

A few examples:

  1. You are buying all the components for a new computer you want to build - are they compatible? Are you missing something? (This is when the idea was “born” - with $2000 worth of cards, and power supply, and and in my basket and I could not hit the “buy” button)

  2. There are dozens of new hand-held wizbangs - which one fits your needs?

  3. Yes! You’d like to consider an Electric car but there are 80 makers and 200 technologies not to mention luggage space - which car fits our family requirements best?

and so on and so on. This technology could turn a kid “designing” his mountain bike seem like a genius before it spits out all the parts for Santa Claus to order… (which is easy as the project has been saved thanks to persistence).

YUP - and doing the work behind the scenes is all the same engine building “virtual models” per a simple “outline file”.

I HAVE WORKING PROGRAMS FOR ALL THE APPLICATION PARTS!

…but I don’t have enough patience to get over the web-front end hurdle.

Help me get over this with the right folks and this idea could make a few people very rich - sorry but I don’t want to go into much technical details - but this is for real. I’m a programmer with 5 document-able “shrink wrap” apps under my belt and I have never seen such wide open potential!

Thunk

PS some technical: I have totally isolated the M (model) from the C(controller) and the V(view) in MCV. We have an “Engine” that can run on any web connected machine and be the "server"for a project - like authoring a on-line technical book that can then detect problems.

I wouldn’t have thought that would be very popular. Voltaren is much stronger and effective for that sort of thing AFAIK.

Actually, I did have this idea… great minds think alike :lol:

I have loads of ideas for businesses and I’m a good collaborator (I’ve worked with several non-profits with crazy schemes) so if you’re looking for assistance I might be able to help, my consultancy business is almost ready to start taking on clients (I’m going to be doing a more complex advice style service like I do on here, cept dedicated for individuals who wanna pay me - audits and such), my book is out on the shelves and selling (really excited about that happening), I’m doing some freelance writing (etc) and I still find the time to assist people here, so I tend to bounce between projects all the time. As I’ve only been in the web scene full time since last Feb I think it’s going pretty darn well so far… but I’m always interested in jumping on-board a worthy cause :slight_smile:

Voltaren is a god send!!!

Now back to the regularly scheduled topic.

Actually, this kind of approach has been suggested to me from time to time. I have considered trying to develop a brand around myself and offer consultant services as a business adviser, specializing in various aspects of the business including legal, negotiation, strategy, process etc. It’s fun and I like working with small companies.

After working with this market for quite a few years, however, I am concerned that this business is quite noisy and there is quite a bit of bottom feeding. As a result, it would be hard to try and get the same kinds of rates/returns on consulting to the web industry that you would see in the software, advertising, manufacturing, etc. fields. Software pays about twice as much for a high-end consultant.

I like the idea of creating products for the web industry, however. I cooked up a plan where I would produce a series of useful materials for web developers/designers and offer full access to those services along with a forum and some kind of a coaching/mentoring system that I would personally participate in. That could work, but I’d need someone else to produce/market the website with me.

While consulting to the web develpment (the sitepoint.com market, really) hasn’t proven to be lucrative, there is certainly plenty of interest for low cost, high value services. These are easy to bundle, too - web designers need everything from sample documents, quick/cheap answers to tax/legal questions, hosting, templates, and lots of other stuff that can be successful on an affiliate basis.

I still like this idea, but doing it 100% on my own is daunting!

It’s an interesting idea. Is building a front-end and developing your own content the way to be profitable on it? I’m not sure about the marketplace, but it seems like if you develop a system that helps users to part out systems like that, your only revenue choices are to either go into retail and sell the stuff yourself or to take affiliate income.

If there is a market to support the technology, you might do much better by licensing out the system and making extra money on support, installation, etc. I can imagine tons and companies who have their own product lines that need an engine to support complex configurations, etc. and might jump at the chance to get a wizard-type interface that will help users on their system.

I can definitely see some value in a system like the one you described. The trick is how to play it - I’d be curious to learn about the marketplace, competitors, etc.

I cooked up a plan where I would produce a series of useful materials for web developers/designers and offer full access to those services along with a forum and some kind of a coaching/mentoring system that I would personally participate in. That could work, but I’d need someone else to produce/market the website with me.

While consulting to the web develpment (the sitepoint.com market, really) hasn’t proven to be lucrative, there is certainly plenty of interest for low cost, high value services. These are easy to bundle, too - web designers need everything from sample documents, quick/cheap answers to tax/legal questions, hosting, templates, and lots of other stuff that can be successful on an affiliate basis.

We’re actually in a similar wave… partially.

My idea included a mentoring area but it is more related to training… a lynda.com or kellytraining.com but with my own style… Basically because I have three types of customers…

  1. the ones that doesn’t know anything at all and want to learn some basics (I mean basics, these people don’t want to be professionals or anything but don’t know what they need to take into consideration when they buy a computer, a camera, etc).

  2. The ones that need training either professional (web developers, software developers, programmers, designers, networking professionals, etc) or for daily tasks at the office (software pacakages like Microsoft Office for begginers and advanced users and similar)

  3. The third is a small group of the second… they need to learn or improve their use of a particular software but they need to do it in English so they get to know the technical terms they need to use, not only the words and terms related to that software, but to their field of work.

This could mean a lot of money in materials and videos/DVDs that could be grouped and sold, plus a lot of extra services that could be related to the courses (as an example, like you said, for web related courses: hosting, templates, basic legal documents, domains registration, etc).

edit: See? I didn’t need you to sign a NDA :smiley: I know, I know, I am so generous. I actually started this project but never finished… it needs time and I didn’t have any resources to stop working for 2-3 months and dedicate it to this particular work.

I’ve had a few responses (via PM, etc.) about creating some kind of online/video tutorial business. This is definitely interesting and probably a growing area.

What makes this hard is that the idea of putting useful videos online and charging for them isn’t really a business model, it’s more of just a ‘this product could sell’ notion. While it’s probably certain that there is a need for this kind of thing in the marketplace, that doesn’t equate to a lucrative business.

Looking at a site like lynda.com, I’m not even convinced that they are all that profitable as they appear to have taken quite a bit of money to grow the company - it’s hard to say if they are making money right now.

More importantly, there is the simple matter of scale. It’s unlikely that one person could produce enough content to make good money unless that person is exceedingly unique and branded as a special adviser. So, to make a model like this work, there needs to be some manner of ‘getting the content’ and keep the quality high. This could be hired out, like lynda.com does, but suddenly things are getting complex.

I wonder if the 3 markets that you cite above would make this even harder- those are quite broad, and what make make it more viable would be to make the target much more specific.

Still, there seems to be interest in this general category of creating useful content geared towards web developers/designers and I share that interest. There’s a winner in here somewhere!

You may be right as I haven’t calculated the actual figures which is something that you should do when you’re serious about a business. I just looked at the costs and not all of them. I simply started to build the site and that’s about it (and of course, it costed me time but not cash)

As a software trainer, I work mostly with the second type and sometimes with the third… The first type comes because whenever I give a lesson, I always have someone asking me about “I need to buy a computer but I am uncertain which one is best, it is always a questions of price”.

For the third type, I have a TV channel that’s interested on this although right now we’re in the initial stages of negotiation so I don’t know where it will lead.

You’re right: You need to subcontract people to teach but, hey, that’s actually what I am… I don’t work for a company but a Professional Training company hires me to teach whatever topic they need and whithin my area of knowledge. So hiring people like me is not a problem.

Unlike lynda.com or kelby training, there would be other areas of profit and not only the courses themselves.

On the other hand, I have a few training companies I work with that wouldn’t mind to use the videos I will create and sell them to their students, or give them away with the rest of the material of a particular course, as long as they can put their logo (in this case, I’ll be acting like a white brand)… I haven’t asked them about support via web but I guess that they may pay if they can offer that to their clients too.

What I know is that the market is there, that they do exist and I am finding them every day. :smiley:

Actually molona, that’s pretty spooky that you came up with that, I was talking to Sagewing in PM on the exact same direction as you mentioned (I even used lynda as my primary example!). The leaning I was going towards was perhaps building a video training community (like you have mentioned) but with perhaps a certification platform bolted onto it. The single biggest issue in web design is the quality of qualifications in the field, most schools, colleges and universities teach severely outdated practices and cannot avoid this issue due to the beaurocracy of learning material approval in which it has to go through a long conga line of checks before it’s approved as suitable for learning. The only online education system which provides specific web related industry training is CIW, which again costs thousands and teaches severely outdated practices (and has become embroiled in scandals over the methods it uses). What I was hinting at was a platform where people could essentially get trained (through videos, podcasts, DVD’s, kits etc) and a testing suite could be built to certify people in what they learn (a secondary revenue stream).

Sagewing: well the most recent profit reports I could find for Lynda show them as being worth approximately $16.5 Million which isn’t to be sniffed at. Thought I do agree that scale would be an issue… building content and communities takes time and videos, kits and other content heavy materials take a lot more time investment than simple tutorials. I would agree with molona that connecting with students on the self-taught or classroom based learning methods would be an excellent method of broadening the user-base and getting some heavy commercial traffic :slight_smile:

Well, if you’re really interested, I don’t mind to go ahead with it… My advantage is that I can handle not only English speaking students but to other markets too… Meaning Spanish speaking languages… and if there’s need of good content in English, you can’t imagine the need for information in Spanish!

I speak many languages… unfortunately all but English are digitally inclined (like HTML) :stuck_out_tongue:

:rofl:

Good for you then that I could take care of the Spanish part :stuck_out_tongue:

Ironically I have experience in developing computer based training materials as well and was considering something similar (although not in the same area as you guys).

FYI I’ve used Captivate at all my gigs.