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Business Idea Generation

July 10, 2014

Below is a good list sent by a friend that got me thinking about what is next; for the world, for business, for me?  Start with a grandiose goal and find a way to take a bite out of that elephant.

In reading this list there are a number of avenues that are appealing but not at all applicable to me and my skill set, some that are interesting but not something I think I can positively effect in my lifetime, and some that I say….hmmm, I wonder how I could implement the following xxxxxxx.  Have a look and think big.

32 Markets Ready for Disruption

  1. Education: There is a ton of value created by educating the masses in emerging and under-developed markets and those able to capture this value will do very well.
  2. Construction: 3D printing is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream phenomenon. And yet, contractors are still driving their big trucks over to Home Depot.
  3. Insurance: Micro and Peer insurance (everything can be insured, and people can insure other people)
  4. Water rights and distribution: the clean water we are polluting for natural gas wells will soon be worth more than any form of gas.
  5. Loans: who gives them and how people get them (micro and peer financing)
  6. Prime Time TV lineup: this will be all on demand and will change TV advertising forever and in reality, already has.
  7. The legal profession: Simple contracts could be generated and processed by machine at far, far lower cost than a lawyer’s hourly rate. Some legal documents could be modeled as graphs of conditions and outcomes, which could then be compared with tree-diff algorithms and annotated with other data.
  8. Intellectual Property: Consider the black box of patent applications, as well as the aftermarket for IP. “Patent Trolls” is the latest buzz word; individuals or firms pick up bulk lots of IP on the secondary market and file suit against major companies for infringement, hoping for a big win. However, what if there were a more transparent and readily accessible market for IP?
  9. Financial Services & Wall Street: Read what Chris Dixon says about disrupting Wall Street.
  10. Data Informatics: Corporations and professional services firms can pay upwards of six-figures for limited access to certain specialized data stores. While some data pools are proprietary, pulling information from truly unique sources that cannot be duplicated is very valuable.
  11. Politics: Campaign spending alone stretches into the billions when looking at the top 2-3 levels of government. Consider aggregate spending on campaigns at all levels, in addition to significant sums spent on lobbying and other related activities. Disruption would certainly be difficult in this space, but there are examples of companies already attempting, and succeeding in some cases, to disrupt particular verticals.
  12. Real Estate: The fact that a 5% commission is extracted by the brokers for matching buyers and sellers is today’s information age is outrageous. The buy side of the market is very opaque with little visibility into who is interested in buying what and where.
  13. Moving industry: A $16 billion/year industry formed mostly from small players. 50 companies have 45% of the market. The rest are small players, companies with under 10 employees. Frogbox has been disrupting this space recently.
  14. Packaging: In USA alone the CPG industry is $2 Trillion! Anywhere between 10% to 40% of that money is spent for the packaging of the product. That is the cardboard, polythene, plastic, paper etc. meant for covering the actual product. Environmentally focused products could win significant market share in the space if done right.
  15. Recycling: There’s still so much we can do to recycle effectively. There’s a huge opportunity here, but I wonder if we’ll capitalize on it only after we reach a higher level of scarcity.
  16. Landfill Resource Reclamation: As we continue to come to terms with resource scarcity, we’ll dig deeper into our own trash heaps to reclaim re-usable materials. In Indonesia, some people are literally living off the landfill.
  17. Battery Technology: If we can make tiny batteries that never have to be recharged and that don’t cause a nuclear meltdown we will advance tremendously.
  18. Fast Food: The fast food industry is known to deliver more than a quick ready to go meal. Fast food also delivers some of the highest calorie foods eaten during a typical day. Fast healthy food will change this industry. These guys are doing it.
  19. Software Operating Systems: The cloud is gaining ground quickly. OS’s that don’t require booting, installing, or updating by the user are surely preferred over those that do. Of course, you already will find Google & Microsoft here.
  20. Rare Earth Metals: This enormous industry has mostly been pushed into China were extraction labor costs are low enough to be economical. However, with >50lbs of rare earth metals under the hood of your typical Prius or EV – substitutes are needed as China cuts supply (recently announced that <50% of China-mined rare earth metals were available for export).
  21. Payments: While PayPal never quite lived up to its vision of displacing the major processors (Amex, Visa, MasterCard), this area is beginning to heat up again. 2%+ cost for each transaction is the reason $24T of B2B transactions are still completed using paper check. Bitcoin is poised to disrupt payments in a very big way too. This is a crowded space with lots of capital already working to disrupt it.
  22. Low Cost Distributed Energy and Sanitation solutions: Developing countries have a large need for dirt cheap, compact local energy and sanitation solutions, but the same applies to many of the developed countries too. Who wouldn’t like the prospect of generating their own energy with small solar panel or other green energy solution? This is especially true when the electric grid becomes unreliable or cost of energy hikes up rapidly.
  23. Diamond retailing: No major disruptions as of yet. This is a $72 billion a year market. Bluenile.com, the biggest online player, does about $350 million a year in revenues.
  24. The gambling industry: Currently unregulated in half the world (Thailand, India, etc.) and most bettors go through bookmakers with high fixed odds. With online betting exchanges (Betfair, Smarkets) you get the best prices because of efficient markets and high volume/liquidity.
  25. Sewing garment factories: as clothing companies get into “fast fashion”, there needs to be a better way to find, vet and analyze factory capacity and order.
  26. Medical Devices: Most big companies have commoditized existing equipment (esp. Surgical Devices). Much of the new features being added are bells and whistles to justify a price hike or reduce liability. There are a lot of opportunities in their improvement and total replacement.
  27. Healthcare: Simply put, healthcare is not working and it will get worse as the population ages. Efficiencies need to be created or this will bankrupt governments.
  28. Weddings: A $74+ Billion dollar industry that’s fragmented and highly inefficient, probably the last industry left where consumers still shop from a trade show, magazine or Google search.
  29. Business productivity software: Right now, 100s of millions of people are using Microsoft Office on PCs, while their kids are using smartphones, tablets and web applications. The future belongs to collaboration and productivity apps designed for this new reality.
  30. Taxation: The tax system is another system designed for and by accountants. If the congress can get a more simple tax system designed and implemented, the entire accounting system as we know it today will be turned on its head.
  31. Automobile sales and marketing: Particularly at the dealer levels – if you’ve ever purchased a car you’ll realize this industry is completely broken. Car dealers are packed full of sales people who don’t understand the difference between sales and marketing, particularly online advertising and when states are trying to ban the direct to consumer model, you know there is disruption coming.
  32. Mattresses: They cost too much for what they are. Someone needs to disrupt this market. I’m getting a little tired of paying 1000′s for some foam and springs. ;)
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