June 25, 2020

MFM #85: Millions hidden in plain sight

Why privacy is big business 🔒 💵

💰 Opportunity: Privacy-focused tech. As consumer concerns around data privacy continue to grow, new companies are emerging that offer more protection than incumbents. They do this by offering a paid model, eschewing the need for ads or serving ads without tracking the end user.

  • 💡 Idea: Retailers are required to provide customers with any data they have collected on them. There is an opportunity for a company to gather this data on behalf of the consumer, analyze it and provide insights for the consumer on their shopping behavior.
  • 💡 Idea: VPN built into a router. A router who’s value proposition is focused around providing a secure connection. Solutions like this already exist (NextDNS, Ubiquiti) however, they are not user friendly.
  • DuckDuckGo: A search engine with a focus on privacy. DuckDuckGo has experienced explosive growth over the past few years.
  • Hey.com: A new, paid email service whose value proposition is better privacy.
  • AppLovin: A mobile marketing platform. The initial version of the app was interesting from a privacy perspective. Initially, AppLovin recommended apps people you knew were using. This was a great business, but the company ran into several privacy issues including infamously showing an app recommendation from a deceased person.

Millions hidden in plain sight 🧐

💰 Opportunity: There is a business behind everything. Train your brain to spot and question things. For example, laminating workplace OSHA regulation posters is a multi-million dollar business.

  • 💡 Idea: Some places (like the state of California) allow you to write-off the price of installing solar panels. Corporations often take advantage of this by donating solar panels (usually to schools), and getting the tax benefits. A potential business idea would be to help facilitate this kind of transaction.
  • 💡 Idea: The maintenance of highway grass median strips is expensive. A company that installs turf, which requires much less maintenance, could provide governments big savings.
  • 💡 Idea: Costco for services. Group buying made easy for service businesses (SaaS, home services). Other companies that offer group discounts: Appsumo, StackSocial, FoundersCard, RetailMeNot.
  • Unclaimed Baggage: The only reseller of lost and unclaimed airport luggage. Unclaimed Baggage recycles, resells and donates the luggage and its content.
  • Clean the World: An organization that recycles hotel soaps. Once bars and bottles of soap have been collected from hotels and shipped into a warehouse, they are then sanitized and re-packaged for distribution.

The business of finding businesses

Tip: In the UK and Australia, companies of a certain size must submit annual reports. These reports can be found at Companies House (UK) and ASIC (Australia). This is a great way to research businesses financials and models. 

  • 💡 Idea: Government data sites are often clunky and hard to use. Take this publicly available information and make it more user friendly to navigate.
  • ImportGenius: Takes publicly available customs data and makes it easier to use.
  • DueDil: A company that aggregates public company information in the UK.

Other nuggets 🏆

  • Align: Makes creating income share agreements easy. This is an example of a company that spotted an emerging trend — ISAs becoming a popular debt instrument for students — and built a product that facilitated the process. 
  • AgentFire: A company that makes it easy for real estate agents to create a website. Does about $100k/month in revenue.
  • Twitter recommendation: Robin Vander Heyden helps founders turn their service business into a product.

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