We're excited to kick-off the inaugural edition of RFS 100, a newsletter of 100 product and startup ideas from great founders, investors, and operators. For the next 10 Fridays, 10 new ideas will appear in your inbox. Beyond serving as a potential source of inspiration, we hope that this is a community for thinking. In starting this crew, we thought a lot about a quote from the great 18th and 19th-century jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who said:
A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension.
What will our minds look like after 100 new ideas? What about if for each of those ideas, we hear the feedback of 5 or 10 readers? What can our brains become if we make dedicated time each week to engage with new thoughts?
Those are the questions that motivate us, and that we have on our minds in setting out here. We hope you also hear them in the manner intended: as an invitation. To respond, to disagree, to gild, and elaborate. Whatever your takes are, we'd love to hear them. Reply to this email, and we'll get back to you.
Without further ado, let's get to the ideas themselves. Very lightly edited by us for the sake of clarity.
Remote work management
Delightful sourcing and onboarding for a distributed workforce
Talent exists everywhere. Opportunities do not. The current HR software stack for sourcing, hiring, onboarding (HRIS), payroll, and benefits make up a $40B market. There is a gap in the market for a one-stop solution for hiring for an increasingly distributed, global, and dynamic workforce. Currently, the challenge lies in both sourcing the best available talent around the world, while remaining compliant with local laws and regulations.
Teaching from home
Alternative homeschool options for households with two working parents
Traditional public school isn't the best option for every student, but it is often the most affordable, reliable, and manageable for families with two working parents. It's possible the shift towards remote school during COVID-19 will accelerate student/parent propensity to look for affordable alternatives that provide a more tailored/exciting/impactful learning experience. While I do not know what the right solution looks like, I think there is significant room for innovation and experimentation in the space.
Unlocking monetization in "sleepy" industries
Programmatic ad network for B2B marketplaces
Every major wholesale industry or supply chain is digitizing through B2B marketplaces. Some monetize through take-rates or added financial services, but others have seen advertising as a successful avenue towards monetization. Targeting customers at the point of sale is effective but needs the right infrastructure to make it happen.
YC for VC
Accelerators and distributed scouting programs for new investors
It's too difficult to develop an investment track record If you aren't independently wealthy or a part of existing homogenous VC networks. Additionally, fund of fund data shows that emerging managers outperform compared to legacy funds. Our industry should be reimagining ways to boost returns via expanding the pool of qualified investors. Emerging manager accelerators and scout programs like the one led by Indie.vc, can unlock new, diverse investor networks in an increasingly distributed world.
Galvanizing digital currency innovation
Cryptocurrency crowdfunding platform
The world is moving toward globalized and hyper-connected financial interests (community and geographically based). Despite that fact, there is no crowdfunding platform built for the kind of deep, impactful collaboration that will happen over the next +10 years.
Infrastructure for e-commerce
Cross-channel order management software for e-commerce marketplaces
Global e-commerce is pegged at $3.53T as of 2019, poised to grow to $6.54T by 2022. Of course, the current pandemic is only accelerating this trend. Despite its size and acceleration, many aspects of the industry remain underbuilt. I think there's a market opportunity for enterprise order management that works with out-of-the-box e-commerce marketplaces.
Aging in the metaverse
Virtual senior centers
Church and prayer are an order of magnitude more common than the trendy products and services we talk about so much in the Valley. But most people, especially vulnerable senior citizens, don't have modern ways of keeping in touch with their communities or faith. I'm looking to fund or incubate a founder excited about building a social web product for seniors, starting with "21st Century [ethical] Televangelism" as a beachhead.
A timer and checklist add-on inside Google Hangouts and Zoom calls
As we spend more and more of our lives in video calls, I think there's room for productivity tools to support this behavior. One example of that is a plugin that serves as a timer and checklist inside existing solutions. Even something as simple as this could better structure SCRUM meetings, pitches, and calls, ensuring visibility and alignment. This is more of a tool than a company, but I think there's a real need for it in the work-from-home era.
Honey for credit card points
A Chrome extension and unified card
It's strange to say, but a dollar is worth more or less depending on where, and how you spend it. If I buy a flight on Expedia with a Chase Sapphire card, I might receive considerably more reward points than if I went to Kayak and made the same purchase with an American Express. Great content businesses have been built around this quirk — namely The Points Guy, and much of Nerdwallet. But humans are ineffective at snuffling out weird arbitrages across an expanse of changing financial offerings, at least when compared to software. Just as Honey works at checkout, a chrome extension could advise which card to use when buying online to maximize rewards. It could account for your preferences (travel v. restaurants v. cash-back) and propose new cards to apply for based on your purchase history and goals. To round out the solution, a unified card (perhaps an Apple Pay card and a piece of plastic) could be added, ensuring that even when you're out and about, you can be sure you're using the most cost-effective purchase method.
Affirm for healthcare
Installment-based medical billing options
Some systems are more amenable to market-driven, bottoms-up evolution than others. I don't believe the American healthcare system is one of them. The root causes of our healthcare affordability crisis are perverse incentives that demand top-down intervention, from increasing payor investment in preventative medicine and primary care to reviving the individual mandate and revisiting Medicare For All. But we also shouldn't wait for systemic change to address the issue. We can help the 41% working-age Americans who carry healthcare debt by providing a simple, trustworthy, and transparent way to pay bills over time, amortizing the financial burden while decreasing delinquencies for creditors. You could kick-start this business without explicit integrations with doctors or payors by asking patients to send EOBs and bills to you, effectively "refinancing" their bills, and offering quicker payment if they join your network. If consumers can "Affirm" a new sofa or iPhone, why shouldn't they be able to do the same for their own well-being?
Thank you for reading. If you have someone in particular you'd like to hear an idea from, let us know. We'll do our best to get them into the mix. If you have an idea of your own that you'd like to share, ditto. And finally, if you enjoyed today's edition, consider sending it to your cleverest, most curious friend. You can send them to the link below.