Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them. - Laurence J. Peter

Friday, November 10, 2006

Online business

(Obviously this blog is dead. Right now I'm going to use it as a place where I can put up a page that people can comment on.)

My flatmate Chris and I have decided to start a business. Our major skills are IT skills (we're both developers at FNZ), so it should probably be an online business.

We have some advantages. As Chris put it, "we have the technical skills, we understand the basics, at least one of us is not a moron, capital is not an issue, one of us is not in any way bound by morals, we know marketing, accounting, business planning and the human psyche. Gotta start somewhere."

Right. We have one major disadvantage as I see it, which is a dire lack of time in which to do it, since we both have demanding day jobs.

We've been thinking about ideas for it for a long time. There's a few major areas we're looking at:

  • A site that sells stuff, like House Of Rave, which is run by Neville of Neville's Financial Blog. The money is made in the difference between the wholesale price of the supplier and the retail price to the final customer. Neville never touches the products; they're delivered from the supplier. He just arranges the sale. He explains more here and here.
  • A site with content of some kind that people want to read/look at. There are two main kinds:

    Of those two, community-generated content sites seem easier.

Chris has an idea and I think it's great. Chris has a problem frequently. He wants to go to a restaurant in walking distance of our flat. He wants it to be Chinese or Indian, with a price range of £15-£25 for main meals. He wants a romantic atmosphere, and he wants it to be a good restaurant, i.e. well-reviewed.

I had a somewhat similar problem recently. Holly and I wanted to get Indian takeaways. I used Google Maps, and it was agonizing. Half the Indian takeaway places didn't have websites. Of those that did, some websites were down. Of those that were left, only half of them had online menus. Argh! It's 2006!

We want to solve this problem. We want to make a site that helps you find restaurants in Edinburgh according to your very specific search criteria. A big draw of the site will be the user reviews, which will also help us tag the restaurants with various attributes (romantic, party atmosphere, etc.). It should be integrated with Google Maps. This business of course is expandable to every city in the world, and to reviewing and locating more than just restaurants (bars, clubs, etc.).

There is some competition in this space, but the competitors all suck in my opinion. Everyone in the world who likes restaurants and has the internet should instantly go to some particular site to find it, just like they'd go to Amazon for a book or eBay for second-hand goods. And that site should be our site.

What do you guys think? Would you use the site? Do you have ideas or criticisms that are related? Please comment!


The rest of this page is just my notes on online business articles.

Influential articles:
Ramit Sethi: The Myth of the Great Idea
http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/archives/2005/10/the_myth_of_the.html

Hardcore:
http://philip.greenspun.com/business/startup-tips/

Eric Sink about the four groups of customers:
http://software.ericsink.com/Act_Your_Age.html

Eric Sink on Micro-ISVs:
http://software.ericsink.com/bos/Micro_ISV.html

Steve Pavlina on making money from a blog:
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/05/how-to-make-money-from-your-blog/

Steve Pavlina on shareware amateurs and professionals:
http://www.dexterity.com/articles/shareware-amateurs-vs-shareware-professionals.htm

More Steve Pavlina articles on software developing, marketing and other topics:
http://www.dexterity.com/articles/

Neville: Stop Thinking About Products
http://www.nevblog.com/2006/02/stop-thinking-about-products.html

Guy Kawasaki on the Long Tail:
http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/07/the_wrong_tale_.html

Paul Graham on causes of startup failure:
http://www.paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

http://www.userscape.com/blog/index.php/site/comments/10_tips_for_moving_from_programmer_to_entrepreneur/

http://www.charliecleveland.com/archives/2006/02/the_innovators.html
http://www.charliecleveland.com/archives/2006/02/want_to_make_a.html
http://developer.popcap.com/
http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/06/27/a-z-of-professional-blogging/
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/06/so_whats_wrong_.html
http://weirdtechnewshub.blogspot.com/2006/07/top-10-dumbest-online-business-ideas.html
www.ratemyteachers.com
http://uncommonbusiness.blogspot.com/

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

This website sucks. We can do way better:
http://www.thefoodplace.co.uk/

12:16 PM

 
Blogger Steve said...

I think that the idea is quite good. I know nothing of your personal situation, but why don't you just take a risk, quit, and do this? It'd suck if you talked about it, and started working on it, and then something else came along. It seems to me that the websites you want to be like take a huge marketshare very quickly, but at the beginning I presume take a lot of startup time and effort.

Read an article about Sam Morgan saying that in the first year he worked 16 hour days, responding to thousands of emails, and tinkering with the website to gradually improve it. I think that that's probably necessary, and so you'd have to put in more time than perhaps you are contemplating.

3:42 PM

 

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