Dampened Dragons

Watching the latest series of Dragons Den, you have to wonder whether it’s past its ‘sell by’ date. In last Sunday’s  episode nobody invested anything, and the way one or two of the Dragon’s are behaving, gives cause to wonder whether they actually have any money at all! Add in the fact that the excellent Theo Paphitis has been replaced by Piers Linney, a man who gives the impression that he’s not even confident of his own shoe size (let alone the potential of a business) and it has all the hallmarks of a show on its last legs.

I have a friend who’s quite a long way down the line of developing a rival show for both UK and US TV, but if you have an idea or business  which needs funding in the meantime, why not bring it to us. We have personal funds to invest as well as access to dozens of  ‘angel’ investors on the lookout for the right opportunity. The worst we can say is no!

No Magic Here

For reasons I don’t understand, eBay are becoming increasingly picky about what can be sold on the site.  If you make money selling magic, spells, crafts and incantations your goods and services are no longer allowed on the auction site. The following items are also being added to the prohibited items list: advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions and healing sessions.

I can perhaps see why some of those have been banned, but not others (Not sure what harm conjuring tricks ever did!) However, the point I want to make is this – purveyors of all these things now need somewhere else to sell their wares. Might there be an opening for ‘magicBay’, an auction/sales site dealing exclusively in this ‘banned’ sector.

Not one for someone looking for a quick profit or an easy life, but perhaps something for an ambitious entrepreneur to research a bit further.

The Ability List

Ability List is a New York based service which offers people one place to list their disability related products and resources. According to founder Andrew Horn, Ability List will help the disabled who “live isolated lives unnecessarily, simply because they don’t know about the programs, resources, organisations and individuals that are available to help them.” The service is only available in New York at the moment, but there are plans to expand into other US cities.

I don’t know much about access to services for the disabled her in the UK, but I do know this is a field where people are no longer prepared to accept second best. Perhaps there’s a need for something similar here in the UK, and an ambitious entrepreneur might eventually be able to turn it into a profit making enterprise through the sale and promotion of disability related products and services.

Robotic Sex

Two New Zealand academics are predicting that brothels of the future will feature robot prostitutes. In a research paper on the sex industry, Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars argue that by 2050, clients will pay for an evening that features everything from lap dances to intercourse with “a range of sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicity, body shapes, ages, languages, and sexual features.”

Aside from being an entertaining diversion, the report  throws up a serious  point – if the ‘oldest profession’ in the world is set to succumb to the unstoppable march of technology, what jobs will be left for humans to do in the not too distant future? Surely there can be very few, and this will have huge implications for how people earn their living and spend their time.

The Strip Walker

Want to keep fit and make money at the same time? Here’s an opportunity for you, and contrary to the title, you won’t have to take your clothes off to do it.

StripWalker is the name of a business started by Dan Strong in Las Vegas. For three hours each day, Strong walks up and down the Las Vegas strip, wearing T shirts promoting the products and services of his advertisers, while tweeting and texting about his experiences.  Over 17,000 people per hour,  are out walking on the strip on average, with over 40,000 at peak times, so that’s a big audience. When fully booked, the business generates over $5,000 a month in advertising fees.

This is obviously an updated version of the sandwich board or A board with tweeting and texting bringing a modern twist. Google StripWalker and you’ll see that the idea has generated plenty of publicity. Could you copy the idea in London and other major cities with busy thoroughfares? Well it wouldn’t cost much to give it a try and find out!

Persistence Pays

It’s easy to assume that the huge enterprises that make it big were lucky, or had it easy from the start. This is rarely the case.

In a recent TV interview, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told how the company almost failed to get off the ground. Bezos says it took over 60 meetings to raise the million dollars the company needed to launch. In the end, the money came from 22 people who contributed $50,000 each.

How many people would have given up after 5, 10, 20, or 30 meetings? The truth is that the vast majority would. Bezos persisted and the result is there for all to see.

No matter how good your idea, it will only come to fruition with persistence. The world is rarely hanging around waiting for what you’re about to offer it, no matter how good that thing might be.

Virtual Assassins

Here’s an idea you won’t have seen before. I just read about a guy in China who hired a virtual assassin to hunt down and kill his sons Avatar in an online video game. Apparently, he was concerned that his son was spending too much time playing games online, and saw this as a good way of dissuading him.. Now my first thought was that this won’t work. The character would simply come back to life (be respawned) after a brief interlude. Well that’s true, but if you know where to look, you can ambush the character where he’s respawned and repeatedly kill him each time he comes back to life. That’s where the skill is in this.

I know very little about these online games, but might we reach a point where players employ third parties to manage or manipulate the lives of themselves or others in some way?  And could there be a part time business in it. Something to think about for the more technically orientated amongst us.

Photo Profits

It doesn’t seem too long ago that few of us carried a camera around with us. The smart phone revolution changed all that and now everyone’s a photographer. Here’s an opportunity to make money from the snaps you take.

Fizwoz is an online marketplace where you can upload your photos and videos and then offer them to the highest bidder. Most photos seem to go for somewhere between $1 and $5 with around $35 being the limit, so you’re unlikely to get rich from this. But what else are you doing with your photos?  There’s also a facility for publishers to set assignments for members and compete for prize money. If nothing else it seems like good fun, and you never know where it may lead.

Home Town Food

I don’t remember a time when there was more interest in food  – and specialist food in particular. Over the past couple of years we’ve featured a number of businesses which exploit the subscription business model. Here’s an idea which combines the two things.

GothamBox sells specialist foods on a monthly subscription – but there’s a twist. All the foods despatched each month are native to a particular city, enabling those who have moved away to get their home town favourites, and those who simply live elsewhere to get a taste of somewhere different. This is a US based company which at the moment sends a variety of food products, normally exclusive to the cities of  New York and San Fransisco.

Could this work in the UK? I’m not sure. Although regions and cities have their own specialities, they seem to be pretty widely available. Or are they? Perhaps there are foods which remain exclusive to cities and regions, but you don’t get to hear about them unless you live there. At the very least, I can see places like Yorkshire, Devon, Scotland and Wales having sufficient regional food specialities to make this viable. Another one to investigate further.