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What's a product or service you've always thought should exist?
It could be said that entrepreneurs aren’t made, they’re born. If that’s true, looking back, I should have known I was born an entrepreneur — well before I owned my own business. My mind has always operated in a constant state of searching for new opportunities. Oftentimes, I get big ideas about products or services that should exist, but somehow don’t. Once in a while, I decide I have the passion and the means to make it happen. (Hello, first ever cupcake bakery and Cupcake ATM!) Most of the time… I don’t. It would be impossible to bring all my passionate ideas to life. But, it’s fun to think… What if?!
Here are a two fun ideas that never saw the light of day:
When I was a senior in college, going through investment banking job interviews, I had a thought… What if I didn’t wake up? What if my alarm didn’t go off, or I accidentally set it wrong. Sleeping through class was one thing, but sleeping through an important interview — the stakes were much higher. I thought about wake up calls in hotels and imagined having that service available to anyone at home. Wouldn’t that be amazing?! Now, I wasn’t ready to opt in on this idea necessarily, and I’m glad I didn’t because the invention of the smartphone rendered it pretty useless, but it’s an example of the type of thinking going on in my head long before I even had the inkling I would become an entrepreneur. This is what I call magical or “what if” thinking.
Years later, when my husband, Charles, and I were dating, and planning a trip together we bemoaned the fact that while we would love to rent a house — instead of staying at an expensive hotel. There weren’t any websites devoted to finding a good home rental and, even the few that you could find online weren’t to be trusted. We tossed around the idea of a home rental website, where each one was personally vetted or received a seal of approval based on some set of criteria, so travelers wouldn’t be disappointed when they got there. As we all know, someone else had big success with the same idea (hello, Airbnb!).
My point is that through exercising that muscle, the ideas started getting better. And, just by being open to the issues I was facing in my personal life, I started sharpening my instinct for seeing great business opportunities. Now, you may not want to start the business yourself (I certainly didn’t have the appetite to invent the iPhone or launch Airbnb), but you wish someone else would, so that it could make your life easier.
So I put the question to you: what’s a product or service you think could exist?
And, by the way, a “new” idea doesn’t have to be completely original to be groundbreaking. A simple twist, or different perspective on an existing, successful idea, can absolutely deliver a whole new value proposition.
I’m a big believer that the best ideas are already right in front of us — they just need to be reframed.
Of course, I know this first-hand. With Sprinkles, we didn’t invent cupcakes.
In the spirit of fun, let’s think of this thread as a brainstorm, for those of you interested in sharing. And, with any brainstorm, I have a hard and fast rule that there are NO bad ideas. So bring on the ideas, and everyone be kind!
In fact, I’ll go first: sometimes I like to stretch my magical thinking to come up with ideas that are really far out there. I recently recorded a podcast with Morning Brew Business Affairs (released on June 13th, you can listen to it here), where they ask every guest What is your "moonshot idea.” Being a child of the 80s, the musical movie montage made a major impression on me. To the point that I’ve always wished someone could make a soundtrack to my daily life. And — get this — play it as I’m going about my day. Just think about it! “Eye of The Tiger'' playing when you’re stepping into that scary make-or-break meeting, cut to “Walking On Sunshine” when you get the deal and you’re on cloud 9. Now, don’t ask me HOW this would actually work… I just know it’s a service I’d gladly add to my subscriptions. How about you?