‹ View all briefings
November 20, 2020

Five Startup Ideas #011

Social avatars, Trustpilot for 1099s, and modern security.

Photo by

Welcome back, folks.

We have 100 fresh ideas stretching out before us. I can't wait to get started. Now, onto this week's ideas. They come from Josh Browder, Wendy Schadeck, Brett Martin, Dan Romero, and Hannah Murdoch. I really hope you enjoy them.

— Mario

PS - I've added a new reward for sharing RFS with your friends: private events. See the bottom of the email for detail.

21st Century ADT

Consumer security for the digital era

ADT, perhaps the largest and most well-known security company, was founded in 1874. Meanwhile, security threats have shifted in the past decade. From dealing with online harassment and extortion to monitoring your safety remotely during a date, there is a huge opportunity for a horizontal security company to keep people safe online. While cybersecurity companies exist, there doesn't seem to be a complete, consumer-friendly offering. A monthly subscription would be an easy way to monetize.

Josh Browder, Founder and CEO, DoNotPay.com

Smart Avatars

Always-on socialization

The average user spends over two hours a day on social media. That's a product of the addictiveness of the existing products, but also recognition of the benefit these networks give us. Though flawed, they can provide a sense of connection, and create serendipity — new friends and contacts are made as we exchange thoughts and experiences. How do we allow this magic, this serendipity to scale? Intelligent avatars might offer a solution. These avatars would learn from the behavior of an individual consumer, then leverage those lessons to continue socializing once the user logged off. While you work, your avatar could work on finding fruitful connections, eventually introducing you.

Wendy Schadeck, Principal at Northzone

Trustpilot for Employees

Third-party platform for 1099s to showcase their work

The difference between a 4 and 5-star Uber ride may be a function of the rider’s mood; for the driver, it's a matter of survival.

As capital-efficient labor marketplaces swallow the economy, a broad swath of the labor force is becoming increasingly metricized, and dependent, on the data held by marketplaces. Resumés and LinkedIn pale in comparison to the understanding Transfix, NomadHealth, and Uber have on their truckers, nurses, and cab drivers, respectively.

Of course, Transfix, NomadHealth, and Uber don’t employ any of these workers — and therein lies the rub. Faced with stiff competition on the supply side, these platforms have little incentive to help their talent build a CV. These independent, often quite skilled, professionals lack a neutral place to showcase work history and build a brand.

Enter your new startup, “TrustPilot for Employees,” a third-party platform where employees collect, curate, and showcase their professional data and engage with customers. Everyone knows the one barista that makes your day, or the clerk that goes above and beyond; why isn’t there a place to recognize them? This service can easily become an OAuth or Plaid-esque data marketplace that gives selected employers access to verified data to help with hiring, lending, and security decisions.

Venture capitalists are falling over themselves to fund the passion economy — writers, musicians, and aspiring actresses — but who is building the platform to support and empower the working person?

Brett Martin, Founder at Charge and Co-Founder at Kumospace

Strava for Cooking

Social network for serious amateur cooks

Strava is a social network for serious amateur athletes. But there's no at-scale, vertical social network for serious-yet-amateur home cooks. Initial target users would be fans of influencers like J. Kenji López-Alt, Binging with Babish, and French Guy Cooking.

Similar to Strava, you'd start by offering single-player tools. For Strava that's been routes and segments; for cooking that might be a database of web-crawled recipes with a Gantt chart interface to manage the timing of a multi-course meal. As a userbase develops, you'd start adding in multiplayer social features.

There are plenty of ways you could monetize. Affiliate links are one avenue (cookbooks, kitchen equipment), paid subscriptions (pro features in-app, weekly recipes from celebrity chefs) is another.

At-scale, Strava for cooking would become the go-to place for cooking inspiration, recipes, videos, kitchen equipment, and internet socializing about food.

Dan Romero, Investor (@dwr)

Figma for Video

Real-time, collaborative video editing

Video provides higher content density than almost any other medium. Yet, professional-grade video editing lacks real-time, collaborative functionality that is the hallmark of platforms like Figma. Film repositories are also often stored locally and lack intuitive search/tagging features necessary for a team-based product.

There is an opportunity to build a video editing platform that transports all of this to the web, runs well as both a single and multi-player experience, and learns from your style or preferences over time.

Hannah Murdoch, Investor at Union Square Ventures