Trip out west

I’m taking some time off to visit friends in San Francisco / the Bay area. If you have any suggestions for places to see or people to meet, hit me up!

A few ideas

I had/have a habit of composing random draft emails to document ideas of mine. I then tend to forget about them, only to discover all of them en masse when I clean out my drafts folder.

Here are a few I found while cleaning out my last batch:

  • A mobile app that allows you to “clip” multimedia digital coupons. For example - use QR codes to clip a coupon from a subway ad (not original), or check in to a TV commercial in real-time to save 15% on, say, your next trip to Macy’s (more original?)
  • Real-time voice translation - dictate something in English into a mobile app, and almost instantly, you can have the app read back that same sentence in another language
  • App roulette: a mobile app that constantly cycles through pre-set trials/demos of affiliate/partner apps (daily, hourly, etc.). If you like the app enough, you can purchase the app - in-app!

Anyone else share this habit? Please do share your ideas if you do - they don’t even have to be startup ideas!

Tags: ideas

An idea for Foursquare

A recommendation engine. Here’s how it would work:

  • User checks in to a venue
  • Foursquare app then displays a recommendation of the next venue to check out based on previous user check-ins after checking into that venue
  • It might be based on categories, i.e. if you check into a hotel, Foursquare might say something along the lines of “17 people have then checked into Bars,” at which point you can tap on that line to view the most popular five Bars (or restaurants, or museums, etc.)
  • It might just be the top five most popular, subsequent destinations. So you might check into a bar in the East Village, and the app would display the top five bars that people would check into afterward, and even display specials for those bars
  • The recommendations can be customized by timeframe, i.e. all-time most popular subsequent venues vs. just for the last month
  • Could be really cool if you’re traveling a new city and you’re looking for things to do

Here’s why I think this makes sense for Foursquare

  • Right now, Foursquare is an afterthought (at least for me). You come to a venue, then you check in. Foursquare doesn’t tell me where I should go next. A recommendation engine can thus drive additional user engagement
  • Merchants can potentially derive more value from being on Foursquare. Instead of just offering specials for the Mayor and other loyal customers, merchants can run specials to lure barhoppers, tourists, etc. to their venue if they appear on a recommendations list (or maybe they can always run a special, but there’s more of an incentive to do it because there’s an “audience” built in with every check-in, even if it doesn’t take place at their business)
  • The potential to offer premium listings - display the top five subsequent venues with check-ins, but also have one premium “listing” that businesses can purchase based on the nature of the previous check-in driving the recommendation

Thoughts and reactions welcome below.

Tags: foursquare

Becoming a Techie

There’s a pretty active thread on Quora right now on how to start a tech startup as a non-technical person. There are 21 answers - and they all vary in their advice - but most of them encourage non-technical people to seek a technical co-founder.

I consider myself reasonably tech savvy, and on the early adopter side of new technology products and services. But in no way am I truly “technical,” and as I think more and more about what I want to accomplish later in life, I find myself wishing I had paid more attention to my intro computer science class in college.

While I don’t think I’m ever going to become a programming guru, I have been thinking about at least learning (re-learning?) the basics. So, if you have any advice on where/how to get started, let me know - would appreciate the help.

Awesome article from the Wall Street Journal on “sidewalk rage” and “angry walkers”

Last Minute Deals

I know, I know. There are a ton of startups out there already doing the “daily deal” or “group deal” thing.

But I’d love to see a company create a marketplace for last minute deals. This idea came to me specifically for events - sporting events, concerts, etc. - but I’m sure there are other applications I’m not thinking of.

Car Insurance Commercials

Have you ever noticed how many car insurance commercials brag about the average amount someone saves every year by switching to their service?

Well of course! Would you not switch if you could save more money by doing so? It just seems like a perfect example of deceptive advertising to me.

In advance of a conference I’m attending this week in San Diego, thought I’d share this piece from Mark Suster on how to make the most of conferences.

Expected Value

I don’t think enough people grasp the concept of expected value. I also think those who do understand it don’t apply it enough to their daily lives.

It’s certainly not practical for anything and everything, but anytime you can reasonably estimate the likely outcomes of something and the likelihood of those outcomes, you should be using expected values to weigh the benefits and costs of a decision.