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Old 11-30-2011, 02:03 PM   #16
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

I will start it off with one...

When I was applying to top universities during my senior year of high school, I sought out any resources I could find on the internet to improve my chances of success. I was quickly surprised at the amount of quality free material available to college applicants. In particular, www.collegeconfidential.com had an excellent highly-trafficked forum where applicants could ask each other for advice, compare their credentials, and rejoice or commiserate when colleges made their final decisions. CollegeConfidential's forums contain a whopping 11,844,361 posts over 991,086 topics.

One noteworthy aspect of this forum was that participation frequently continued beyond the application process. There was a strong “community feel,” and freshmen and sophomores at elite universities frequently came back to help high school seniors with their applications and expectations.

Unfortunately, the free college application consulting available in online forums like CollegeConfidential can be widely variable, and the anonymity provided by the internet makes it difficult to separate signal from noise. There is a growing trend toward high-dollar college admissions consultants that can cost upward of hundreds of dollars per hour, or several thousands of dollars for an "admissions package."

There is a market for aspiring college students that lies between these two extremes: admissions advice and consulting directly from students who were recently accepted to top universities. Increasingly, consumers are preferring to rely on their peers rather than a central authority for recommendations and advice. The internet has only magnified this. TripAdvisor is a great example of this phenomenon; most consumers would rather read a review from Frommer's opposed to a single review from a stranger. However, when you collect fifteen reviews from users who have visibly built credibility and are likely to be unbiased, the scales turn and users strongly prefer the aggregate advice to the (likely outdated and fluffy) Frommer's review.

I would start with a premium forum with 10 subforums each dedicated to one of the top 10 universities. Facebook makes it incredibly easy to find internet-savvy recent attendees of these schools; mass contact them and offer a salary per-quality-post. These freshman and sophomores' won't require high salaries (many are doing it for free on CollegeConfidential + they are college students) yet they have a successful recent admissions experience, which is very valuable to parents and students in the admissions process. Incentive fast, solid responses with a pay-scale that rewards the first X responses to customers' questions on a diminishing scale. Customers can post as many questions as they would like, non-customers could view a teaser like the top 3 posts in any forum.

From there, the idea is very scalable. Expand beyond the top 10 universities, offer services besides a forum; essay or application review, 1-on-1 Skype-style consulting, webinars, marketing to colleges, whatever. Students frequently blog concurrently about their admissions experience. Turn it into a social network for college applications and their parents.

Harvard alone received 35,000 applications at $75/each during the 2011 admissions cycle. The average student applying to top universities applies to several schools and has a significant time and monetary investment in the application process. Aspiring poker players were quick to pay for a service like CardRunners because it provided a path to increased future earnings. I see a mid-market college consulting business as providing a similar service. For a small investment, students and parents will receive advice that could alter their entire life's earning potential.

cliffs; College admissions consulting is a massive industry with a large gap in quality between free and paid services that can be filled with highly skilled yet cheap labor.
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:16 PM   #17
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

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Originally Posted by Gullanian View Post
This is something I've always sort of agreed with but never really understood and struggled with.

1. If I have a great idea I 100% agree to tell relevant people about it without any barriers to get feedback on the idea. Happy to talk to anyone that seems interested in it who could give crucial feedback. 99% of the time this is an important step
2. If I have a great idea I'm likely to act on, I'm not going to announce it to the world before I've done anything. You're inviting competition if it's really a good idea. Why start the race at the same time when you can get a good head start.

Even though people say ideas have no value, I think they do to some extent, the problem is people grossly over value their ideas.
That's fine. If you don't think you can get good feedback from 2p2 for whatever reason then I understand your hesitance.

However what I would say to you is once you've done some research, verified a market, and start to put together plans in your head, you are already doing something and I think that feedback is worth a lot. Especially if it keeps you from wasting a few hundred hours on an idea that someone could've demonstrated wasn't 100% on point.

That said, plenty of the stuff I'll post about here I've done almost no work on so I don't 100% agree with you

cts's post is an awesome example of what I'm hoping for though. A fully fleshed out idea, some market understanding, and a general plan for how to make money from it.
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:31 PM   #18
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

cts,

I think one of the major factors with adoption of a service like this is how high school guidance counselors fit in. In my experience, coming from a private hs, the guidance counselors literally handed out packets of information with places on the web to go and to use for information about the application process.

As well, one of the problems that I forsee in this concept is again with the guidance counselors. The counselors at my school would all have log-ins for online resources (some were paid) and upon request, would print any documents that students requested using their own account. What would stop a guidance counselor from registering an account and printing information for students/ parents that ask?
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:34 PM   #19
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

Hey Larry; I imagine you would have to make it clear that it is one account per student/family and enforce that rule. I went to a strong public high school and didn't have the same experience or ever even really talk to my guidance counselor.

Alternatively you could try to form partnerships with specific private schools where the school paid you and got to advertise they offer your service as a perk to prospective students.
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:38 PM   #20
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

NannyMatch

Market
The numbers I've seen are that there are around 300,000 nannies/au pairs in the United States and the average pay is somewhere around $12-$15/hr. Assuming the average one only works 500 hours per year (this obviously isn't only looking at full-time live in nannies) that's around $2b spent annually on nanny-ing.

Idea
Cliffs: Like an eHarmony or OkCupid for nanny services

Note that I didn't say match.com as these are pretty different services. eHarmony has that long-ass test you take that they use to match you up with other people. OkCupid has something similar but also allows you to pick some mandatory questions that the other person has to answer and that factor in more to the matching algorithm.

There are a lot of sites that do background checks for nannies(http://www.nannybackgroundcheck.com/), or let you search for some (http://www.enannysource.com/) but none in the short research I've done that actually tries to match you up with a nanny based on some kind of a values survey. Obviously some of these are other things you would want to tie in: All nannies have been background checked (revenue source?), relevant licenses in the various states, etc.

Revenue Sources
A few different revenue sources I see as possible here:
1) Access - For parents searching, taking the test is free but you charge them to see who matches with them (exactly like the dating sites do)
2) Cost per Lead - For the nannies (and, really this is nannying agencies that you would want to partner with), they pay a referral fee for every interview that's set up (too difficult to verify if they start to employ to someone, so charge a smaller amount but charge it to more people)
3) Advertising - meh, I don't really like something like this where you rely on ad dollars, but parents love to spend money on stuff so it may be worth exploring if it's done correctly.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:05 PM   #21
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

how difficult do you think it would be to develop matching algorithms that are similar in quality to eharmony?
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:08 PM   #22
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

cts,

these are the comments i have off the top of my head. i agree that it is a huge market, but unlike your comparison to poker players, it is almost definitely not the students paying for the services and instead the parents. you either need the parents to hear about it and subscribe on their own for their child, or the child to go their parents and ask for it.

getting the parents to do it would require a lot of marketing, and getting the kids to do it would likely require that you create a more open community that profits from premium features/forums. i dont know how you would go about keeping some aspects open and some premium, but think thats the best way to get a large group of users and once you have that you should be able to get a good amount of publicity for free

if you kept the entire forum premium, what would be your marketing strategy? youve definitely thought about this a lot and im just writing what comes to mind, so im interested to hear a bit more about how you would plan to gain traction
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:10 PM   #23
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

It's not that idea are worthless but more how people will make it live. Execution is the key.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:17 PM   #24
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

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how difficult do you think it would be to develop matching algorithms that are similar in quality to eharmony?
eHarmony is very good at what they do, so I don't think it would be even any time soon.

The better question is how hard would it be to make one that's good enough. There's a lot of information available out there about matching algorithms and how to build one so I don't think it would be impossible by any means to do a good job. This blog post covers a lot of what OkCupid does.

That's the whole point of execution over idea though.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:19 PM   #25
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

I think it's hard to compare the nanny relationship the same as a dating relationship.


I'm assuming most of us all want the same qualities in a nanny.

I don't think an algorithm would be necessary.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:21 PM   #26
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

Ideas do have value. But most ideas also require the right team to execute. Sometimes that team includes you, and sometimes that team doesn't need you.

If you are an expert programming and have a techie idea, you can probably share your revolutionary idea all day and no one will be able to copy your idea because they can't execute.

On the other hand, if your idea is so simple that you - and everyone else - can easily execute, then it also doesn't matter. The second your idea gets any sort of traction - and notoriety and press - you will have a dozen copy cats. You are just slightly delaying the inevitable.

They key is to find the right idea that is a good match for you.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:24 PM   #27
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

why would anyone use a matching service? enannysource.com has 23 nannies for a manhattan zip code with a 10 mile radius. that's not a ton of nannies to sift through. matching seems like overkill. my gut instinct if i was looking for a nanny would be to behave like an employer would: sift through the resumes (of which there are not a lot of here) and interview who i like. i don't need a matching service for a population of 23 resumes.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:30 PM   #28
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

one of my ideas:

a service for famous or semi-famous people to have their wikipedia page monitored so that false information and vandalism can be quickly removed.

I couldn't find if it's against wikipedia's rules to have someone who's an agent of the subject edit the article, but if it is then the provider could just quickly notify administrators or editors if editing is needed.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:33 PM   #29
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

i believe there is a "watch" button on wikipedia that will automatically notify you when a certain page is modified. either way, way too narrow of an idea but the broader "online reputation defender" companies are certainly doing a lot of business.
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Old 11-30-2011, 03:33 PM   #30
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Re: Your ideas are worthless, and I'm here to prove it

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshK View Post
I think it's hard to compare the nanny relationship the same as a dating relationship.

I'm assuming most of us all want the same qualities in a nanny.

I don't think an algorithm would be necessary.
Understood. But there is almost 20% annual turnover of nannies, which is a lot when you consider that these are people you are hiring to watch over your children.

Quote:
Originally Posted by derosnec View Post
why would anyone use a matching service? enannysource.com has 23 nannies for a manhattan zip code with a 10 mile radius. that's not a ton of nannies to sift through. matching seems like overkill. my gut instinct if i was looking for a nanny would be to behave like an employer would: sift through the resumes (of which there are not a lot of here) and interview who i like. i don't need a matching service for a population of 23 resumes.
That's true, if you believe that all the available nannies are on enannysource, which is another problem. Here are just a few examples of firms in NYC that do nanny matching

http://www.nycnannyfinder.com/apply/index.php
http://www.profnannies.com/who.html
http://www.achoicenanny.com/nyc/
http://www.nannyauthority.com/
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