Technaut's Idea Forge was started to fulfil my desire for a more tightly focussed channel in which to present a number of business ideas that I have been thinking about for some time now, and which would only get lost in the clutter of my regular journal. Hopefully the following FAQ will answer any further questions you may have. If not, drop me a line.
Actually, these aren’t yet Frequently Asked Questions, because this is a brand new blog. Rather, these are just my attempt to forestall obvious questions before they get asked. To the extent I succeed, these questions will never be asked, making the term FAQ doubly incorrect, but I decided that Frequently Unasked Questions had an unfortunate acronym, so I stuck with tradition. When I start getting frequent questions, answers will be posted here, and this will slowly become worthy of the FAQ term.
What is this Blog all About? This blog is for the dissemination and discussion of what I believe are viable business ideas that, as far as I can tell, are not currently being actively pursued by anyone. Most of these ideas are based on new technologies, or new uses for old technologies. Some are just ideas who’s times have come.
Why “Technaut”? Well, these journal entries are not only the dissemination of business ideas, but also mark points along my exploratory path into the relationships between business and technology in the new millennium. Since I see myself as a metaphorical astronaut of the technological ideospace, the name seemed appropriate.
Why are you giving away business ideas? Are they bad ideas? As far as I can tell, each of these is a completely viable business idea. I used to hoard these ideas, and kept them close to my chest, sure that they would one day make me rich. It eventually dawned on me that ideas that aren’t shared will never make anyone rich, and I generate them far faster than I would ever get a chance to try them out. After all, life isn’t a zero-sum game; sharing my ideas with someone else doesn’t deprive me of them. Besides, someone might decide that they would like to hire me to make one of these ideas concrete, and they are far more likely to do so, if they know what my ideas are.
Are you giving away ALL of your ideas? No, there is a fair bit of selection going on here, and many ideas have been weeded out. What I’m trying to present here are ideas for ethical businesses that can work with existing (or developable) technology; that have a reasonable profit potential and which I am not currently working on. (This last reason is not because I fear competition, but because it seems unfair to inspire someone to start a project which will duplicate a work in progress.)
You call these “Business Plans”? Where is the market research? Did you even do any? Actually, I call these “Business Ideas”, not “Business Plans”. Sometimes I’ve done market research, and sometimes I haven’t. It all depends on the idea, but usually I haven’t. There are multiple reasons for this:
Market research tends to be expensive, time-consuming, difficult to perform correctly, and isn’t something I'm skilled at. You’ll get better data by going to someone specializing in that field. That isn’t to say I don’t know, or can’t think, of where or how you might sell products using these ideas, just that I can’t back it up with hard numbers.
Market research at this stage would assume that the product is already designed. This is putting the cart before the horse. Most of these ideas can be in any one of a dozen forms and targeted at different market segments. Market research is a reasonable next step to take for any of these ideas that seem attractive, but would have to take the talents of the implementors into account.
Some of these ideas don’t have existing markets yet. Anyone who tried to do market research for the transistor radio or the Sony Walkman or home video tape machines before they were introduced would have found no market. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a demand, just that its not measurable in the absence of a finished product.
Are you going to sue if I take an idea and make myself rich? No. These ideas are being put into the public domain. I would hope to get a credit if you take one of these ideas and run with it, but I won’t even insist on that. My particular expression of these ideas is another matter, and I retain full copyright to that. Please do not mirror this blog or redistribute the text describing these ideas without prior permission. Such permission will not usually be difficult to obtain.
I should probably also point out that I will take a very dim view of anyone trying to patent any of the ideas I present here, as this work is clearly a case of prior publication.
Aren’t you afraid someone will get rich off your ideas? Afraid is the wrong word. I’d be delighted if someone took one of these ideas and made a mint. I won’t feel myself to be any poorer just because someone else is richer.
Why should I believe your ideas are any good? You shouldn’t simply believe anything I write. If you look at an idea and it doesn’t make sense to you, or doesn’t look to you like something that will obviously be profitable, then ignore it and go on to the next. Maybe I have failed to communicate the idea properly. Maybe there’s a fundamental flaw that I haven’t seen that you have. In either case, its not good business sense for you to try it. (That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear that it makes no sense to you. Feedback is important to me.) Even if you do think an idea sounds good, don’t put any money into it until you’ve talked it over with folks with relevant backgrounds. After all, many of these ideas require folks with diverse backgrounds to work together. If you can’t find folks who can share your vision for a project, it’ll never work.
What if I try it and it doesn’t work? Don’t blame me. These ideas are presented “as is”, with no guarantee of success. I know of many good ideas that have failed for reasons having nothing to do with the quality of the idea. Often the difference between success and failure was in the execution or the marketing.
Why the emphasis on Open Source Software? What’s wrong with being a greedy capitalist? Who says these are opposed ideas? One of the side intents of this blog is to show ways that open source projects can be lucrative. Often, open source implementations scale better than commercial ones, and so the potential profit is higher in total, even if much smaller per unit. When the most profitable way to run a project is with closed source, I won’t hesitate to mention that.
Technaut is also known as Stirling Westrup, and maintains a personal blog under the name swestrup. That journal is an eclectic mixture of personal observations, pointers to technical articles, the occasional story or essay, and the day-to-day minutia of a technology analyst and visionary.