Thursday, December 01, 2011

Useful VoiP Phone


I keep looking for a good VoiP phone and cannot find one. I want one that has the options that I need.


Very simple: Can use Skype or Google Voice (I do not need the other services that are NOT free), can import my full contact list from both services (and hopefully my smartphone too) without limit (I am tired to hear that I can only import 50 contacts), it is in color so I can easily distinguish my status and other stuff, it allows for multiple users, -of course- it does not requires a computer, it actually does not damage in any way my wi-fi connection, it does not cost more than $100, it has a speakerphone, it is wireless with good technology so it does not interfere with other devices in my home/office, provides the option to stay logged-in.


Lets assume that of all Skype Users (600M) 10% uses Skype-In and need a Skype phone. That means there is a potential customer base of 60M x $100 per phone that is US$6B in a very rough (like always) market size.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Protest Network

[UpdateD: FEB 2013]

I recently remember this post. I want to complain about Avianca, the Colombian Airline, so much lately. Imagine that Avianca has prohibited the use of mobile devices in its flights even when the smartphone is on airplane mode. I understand this prohibition when you are taking off or landing but when you are cruising, it is illogical. I am sure Avianca´s business travelers are pretty upset about this rule (if they are actually following the rule). What seems illogical for me is how can Avianca survive with this rule if most airlines survive because of their business travelers. I am guessing that having a quasi-monopoly in the country helps somehow.



I feel that there is a need for a platform where you can collect complains about anything. I know there are bulletin boards and FB pages, but can we make something better. Something focus on just that (like Quora that launched last year)


Something that has been design so people can find different type of complains by theme, author, geography, company, etc. Probably it has to start by focusing on something so i will suggest starting with business complaints. Right now the way these type of complaints are communicated are through social media in a very disorganized way or in random discussion boards. I feel that there is a market for this platform after looking at several FB pages that are created just to complain or protest about something. Of course this platform will have a f-connect or other links to successful social networks to make it relevant.


I feel that it can have the same potential that trip advisor but for other type of businesses. The business model would probably be a subscription fee charged to businesses to monitor the complaints in the website and create some type of dashboard for them. In terms of business model I am guessing some type of freemium model. Probably starting the paid subscription for large business at $2000 a year. I am thinking that each sales rep can manage 100 accounts so charging $2k will give us a margin of 50% after expenses. I may be off given that I truly door understand the willingness to pay of large businesses for this type of services but I feel that this amount may be reasonable if we offer true value.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Keyless Entry System App

[Update: Jan 2013]

Intellacase is trying to do this exactly. Hope you raise all the funds you need. Help them at Kickstarter:

[Originally Posted: Oct 2011]


I have a smartphone and have a keyless entry system for my car. My wife keeps loosing the keys but (almost) never her iphone. Can we merge it in one?


Can we just include an App that works as my keyless entry system? How hard is that? Or maybe it is easier to have a case that includes the chip so it works.


Again, cars 50M, maybe $20 for each system that will make it US$1B market.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Tablet Car Stereo

[Update: March 2012]

Clearly somebody is listening. Good luck Devium and Thank you Kickstarter for getting Devium up:

[Originally Posted: Sep 2011]


I think we are all tired of not being able to use our smartphone or tablet as our car stereo. I have all my music in my mobile device, all my contact list, everything that I need. Now you are asking me to plug my mobile device to the car system through a simple cable? You are providing me with another screen on my car? Why? I already have a screen, a large screen -actually- if you look at my ipad. Why? I just want to be able to plug my iPad into the dash of my car. Plane and simple.


Develop a box that can be installed in any car that would allow for mobile devices to be plug in. The end result is that the screen of the mobile device will be flat to the dashboard of the car. It is not a cable or something that holds my iPad. It ends up being my car stereo with ALOT more capabilities than my regular GPS/Car Stereo.


Let assume that you can charge individuals or car manufacturers something like $20 for each box. There are 50M cars sold a year. That is a US$1B market. Not bad.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Flash Sales Meet Door-To-Door SalesForce


In Latin America is very common for someone to travel to the US buy clothes and then sell them back to their friends in their home country. Clothes in the US are cheaper than in Latin America (in general). Sadly if you want to import a bunch of clothes to a Latin American country is not THAT easy. In certain cases there are tariffs but in most cases you find wholesalers that own the right to sell that brand in the country. Because most of this wholesalers sell their brands indirectly to small retailers the markups end up being outrageous compare to the price in the US. Even if the wholesalers have their own retail, those location cost a fortunes to maintain and again the markups needed to make some margin have to be outrageous.

In Latin America, women want to buy clothes that are less expensive from a source that they can trust. That is why they purchase clothes and accessories from their friends that travel to the US and bring stuff back to sell.


Initially we thought we can just bring a or a to Latin America and that would be enough. Sadly we saw that there were already several players trying to do exactly that in the largest Latin American markets (i.e. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina). Those players (Privalia, BrandsClub, Geelbe) where already fighting for the excess inventory of all the top brands in those countries. As the Groupon-like in this region, they were fighting to death. In this competitive market you want to be different.

Looking at what works in Latin America you cannot avoid looking at the cosmetic industry that has perfected Direct Selling. The Avon, Belcorp, Oriflame, Natura of this world have leveraged our personalities needs and drive to sell their products.

Combining Flash Sale with Direct Selling seems to be a perfect combination for women all over Latin America. Flash Sale provides discounts on top brands and Direct Selling provides trust in the transaction (something that lacks online transaction in Latin America). The idea is simple. Create a platform like ideeli, gilt and ruelala that can be downloaded to a tablet (i.e. offline capabilities). Provide an inexpensive tablet to your direct salesforce. Create a cost structure similar to avon, belcopr, oriflame and natura alikes. Build your company.


Difficult to quantify but you can probably make more than Privalia today (EUR$168M). 

Friday, July 01, 2011

Post Mortem e-Services


In this new era of emails, accounts and passwords, I feel that there is a need to share key account information with my family if something happens to me. A lot of my important posessions are in an internet account of some sort and not in my apartment. The vague idea that something could happen to me without being able to share the password to this 'memory' e-vault is daunting.


It would be a very basic application that let you set up the account information (login and passwords) that you want to share with your love ones. It may be customizable so you can share certain information with some but not others. The service would be pretty simple, it would ask you every X number of weeks/months if you are still alive. If you don't respond in Y number of weeks/months, the application would run itself sharing the information that you wanted with the people that you wanted. The information could be anything from legal documents (will) to just random files/info (login/passwords, photos, etc).


This would be a subscription model. The user would pay for it monthly until you not longer need the app (i.e. you are dead). I thought about 'death' as the logical milestone event but this could be use in other ways too (I just haven't thought about them... yet). You can probably charge $1 per month for this service (I would definitively pay $12 a year for it). Not sure about how many people would buy it but I'm sure it could become a very nice lifestyle business.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Kickstarter for Kids Education

[UPDATE: JAN 2013]

Since I posted my idea I saw this very interesting commercial from Dodge trying to sell cars through something like a wedding registry (How to Change Buying Cars Forever). I thought that it was pretty innovative. If a car can be sold using this method, ANYTHING CAN. I like even more.

[Originally Posted: Jun 2011]


Parents keep getting too many toys for their children. So many toys that the children end up not playing with them because they are overwhelmed with choices. Friends and Family keep giving parents toys for their children because that is the best gift option (i.e. the chance of choosing a gift being that a toy that the children wont like is almost null). A solution that some parents have opted for is to keep some toys unwrapped so they can be re-gifted later.

Another incredible need that parents suffer from is the raising price of education. Parents have started to invest more and more on education funds to be able to afford higher education for their children when they grow up.


Create a website for parents that can work like a wedding registry. Instead of being for a wedding this website would be for the child´s future education. Each parent can personalize what he/she wants to include in the wishlist but it would be divided in low ticket items (i.e. books for freshmen year) so any Family member or Friend can give whatever amount of money they want to. The money will go towards an account managed by an asset manager that would promise some type of return. The website can be tied to a mobile app that can make it more social so, for example, when grandma wants to give her grandson something, the app will remind her that there is a better option for her grandson: His future education. I am sure I can build on this idea by adding some gamification to the equation plus some incentives from the asset manager, etc., but I am sure you get the idea. It can even work like Kickstarter where there are very low ticket options (e.g. $1) so you can tap into the gift card industry and steal some share from that market too)


The business model is pretty simple. We will charge a fee to the asset manager for bringing money to the table. The Gifting Industry is difficult to size as people purchase stuff without necessarily telling you what would be the use for it. Some sources value the gift industry in the US as a whole at over $300 billion. I am sure even if we take a very small piece of this pie and multiply it by a 1% fee to the asset manager you still make several million dollars.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Community Wi-Fi Network


Since I posted this idea I discovered that there are several projects trying to do exactly this:

[Originally posted on Dec 2010]


The other day I thought about this idea of having a community wi-fi network. I am sure it has happened to you as you are traveling or driving somewhere your iPhone (or other device) will ask you if you want to join a random wi-fi. These random wi-fi networks will change as you continue traveling because you start losing some connections and gaining others.
Now, imagine if all these random connection were tied to each other. So you iPhone would jump from one network to the other like cellphone towers. The only thing that you would need is to (1) be able to standardized all network security and connection settings (2) avoid the free-rider.


The way I thought we could do this is by creating a community wi-fi. You would need to register your own Wi-Fi network to be able to access this community network. This would avoid the free-rider problem. The key problem that I haven't been able to resolve is how to avoid security problems.


It can probably be a subscription model but I'm not sure how much people will pay for the service. It would be more probably something that is free or freemium.

Update [10/2011]: I just heard that there is several of these type of networks around the US. Not sure if they work exactly like I described but they are call similarly "community network".

Friday, April 01, 2011

A Great App for Renting a Car

[UPDATE: Oct 10th, 2012]

Since I posted this idea in 2011 I have discovered a startup that is trying to do something similar: SILVERCAR ( I believe Silvercar was founded in early 2012 as its website in April 26th, 2012 looked like this: Since then they have raised $11.5M from CrunchFund, Dave Morin and Others ( Silvercar is the airport car rental experience reimagined for you, the connected business traveler. They put the power back in your hands, enabling you to bypass lines, avoid complexity and frustration, and drive away in a world-class car at a great price ( @SilverCar is based in Austin, Texas. I hope they do great and revolutionize the (airport) car rental industry. Finally something new in that boring industry!... I cannot wait to see it at LAX and NYC.

[ORIGINALLY POSTED: April 1, 2011]


Would love to have an app in my iPhone or iPad that would help me choose the car at my rent-a-car. Imagine if you are on the plane (and it has wi-fi) and you can browse the cars available in your iPad before landing. The need is simple, lets make renting a car much simpler than it is right now. You normally need to stop by the counter to get your car assign. You normally need to get whatever the person at the counter wants to assign you. In the best cases when you have some type of status you walk to the car without stopping at the counter but you don't have any saying to which car is assigned to you.


What we need is a iPhone/iPad/name-your-device App that would allow you to browse the cars available at your rental car company at that moment in a specific location. Needless to say that the customer wants to see pictures of the actual car in the parking spot so you would need to figure that out. Maybe you start with standard photos (inside and outside pics) and later move to a video camera for the outside view. This would help also with the need to check for availability. We will also need a system similar to the ZipCar system that allows you to use your CARD as the key to any vehicle. You would also need a system that confirms what car is in what parking spot to make sure it is available. This can get complicated in location with a lot of traffic. My take on this is simply have (a) a GPS locator in each car (similar to an iPhone) to guarantee the car hasn’t left the lot and (b) a check-in point that matches each car that enters the lot to a parking spot (this can be done when the person at the rent-a-car is receiving the car).


This could probably revolutionize the rental car industry. You can play it as unique proposition from one rental car company or you can develop the technology/system and sell it to all rental cars.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Working Remotely


As online post-secondary degrees further penetrate the education market, there is a need for graduates of these degrees to find jobs outside their city of residence.  Most of them are not going to be able to afford (or want) to move to another city. There is a need for a solution that would allow these graduates and potential “national” employers to work something out.


The big problem here is that the employer needs different types of control. A software package can solve these issues partially but there is a need for something else. Maybe there is an opportunity for very basic office locations that can be rented and monitored by the employer. A LA-based employer with an employee working in Phoenix could rent a cubicle in the Phoenix location and have access not only to the software his/her employee is using but to the monitoring system in that location.


There are currently 2MM people enrolled in online degrees in the United States. This number is expected to grow in the future at a rate of ~10% per year.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The New Facebook


People are being overwhelmed by emails and marketing from different sites and companies about brand-related communications. You have the groupon and gilt-a-likes sending you discount and promotions every day. At the beginning people liked the idea and open and read every email. After a while people started to feel overwhelmed and aggregating sites started to become popular. Nevertheless there is no real solution today for the need of the people to communicate with their favorite brands.


The idea here is to create an application or portal that can provide some solution to this need. It could be a facebook app or several facebook apps too. I am more incline that it has to be something different. Something not related to facebook. 


The size of this opportunity is relatively large. If successful it can become the sole communication channel for brands, avoiding any other type of new media communication. Everything would be centralized in one location where consumer know they can find what they are looking for. From information, to product and services.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Changing Directions

I have trouble tracking business ideas that I come up with. I forget to write them down or share them with someone. I believe that as you share your ideas with someone they either get better or just discarded. This is a very useful process for any entrepreneur.

For that reason I have decided that I’m going to track my ideas via my blog. From now on, I’m going to transform this blog into a collection of business ideas. Some of them will be really promising; some would be just a basic idea. Given that I’m a consultant I’m going to use a simple framework to organize these ideas.

The framework is as following:

Need: Description of the need that the business idea is trying to satisfy.
Description: How is the business idea satisfying the need?
Potential: A very rough approximation for market potential (customer base, size, or something else)

Let’s see how it goes.