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April 9, 2021

Five Startup Ideas #029

NFTs, energy, and TikTok for games.

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Friends,

We've reached the end of Season 2. Over the past few months, we've shared +100 startup ideas vetted by some of the world's sharpest venture capitalists, founders, and operators.

You've heard from people like Rebecca Kaden, Josh Elman, Ann Miura-Ko, Julie Yoo, Zavain Dar, Charles Hudson, and many, many others. In turn, you've shared your thoughts and ideas, sparking connections and conversations between hundreds of builders. My hope is that, together, we've made it easier for entrepreneurs to take the next step.

We'll be taking a break over the coming weeks to collect ideas for Season 3 and spend some time on a new, related product. More on both soon.

If you'd like to keep sharing and discussing startup ideas in the meantime, you might enjoy The Generalist's private community, exclusively open to Members. If that sounds fun, you can sign up for $16.58/month on the annual plan.

Thank you for joining!
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It's Challenge Day with Future!

After sending today's email, I'm going for a run. And not a casual one.

Instead, I'm going to be running a timed 5K with the goal of finishing in 30 minutes or less. That would be an accomplishment for me.

As you might remember, I've been training for this for the past four weeks, supported by my Future coach, Eddie. He's been pivotal in planning, finding the right times to push me while also factoring in recovery. Even when I felt a little under-the-weather last week, he was there to help me adapt my training schedule.

I'm excited to give it my best shot.

I still have a few passes left for those that would like to try Future out. If you're interested in a free, no-risk, 45 day trial, just respond to this email. You'll get access to truly personalized training designed to help you hit your health goals. You'll also be able to connect with me through the app :)

Wish me luck!

Better, cheaper heat pumps

Reduce carbon emissions by replacing oil and gas furnaces with heat pumps

Heat pumps could meet 90% of the world's space heating needs but global adoption is at only 5%. Obstacles include initial cost of installation, especially in retrofitting existing buildings. Better, cheaper units along with the right financing and installation service could dramatically accelerate heat pump adoption.

I'd love to see more entrepreneurs tackling this problem.

Albert Wenger, Managing Partner at USV

NFT-based employee management

A tokenized access solution

Managing access to different systems is a pain. You have to add users to existing platforms (often at a cost), or go through the trouble of sending over usernames and passwords. That often doesn't feel very safe and is a continual hassle.

I think there's an opportunity to address this problem through NFTs, managed by an underlying platform. Rather than going through the rigamarole mentioned above, each person working at a company would be issued with a single tokenized identifier which provided access to work tools, compensation and tax details, accreditations, codes for physical access to an office, and more. A system like this would simplify onboarding and reduce complexity.

It could be used beyond the workplace, as well. Given the increasing amount of collaboration and contracting in the creator economy, I can imagine something like this proving useful there, too. Want to jam with another creator on a shared project? Issue them an NFT to access the tools they'll need, capture usage data whenever those tools are leveraged, and record payment details for tax purposes. Once the the project is done, you could remove authorization for that NFT.

I think of it as "people Legos."

Stew Bradley, Managing Partner at El Cap Holdings

Masterclass for Health

Engaging, care-driven content

One of the things that I think about daily—especially this year—is where to find reliable information about health. I mostly trust the people in my network who are doctors/researchers/therapists/scientists. Often, a lot of the questions I ask are evergreen.

I think this presents an opportunity: scale the knowledge of a network of charismatic health experts through engaging, Masterclass-like health content. This content could leverage celebrity in the same way that Masterclass has, especially since celebrities are increasingly partnering up with health companies as investors and co-founders.

I think a system like this could have particular power in shifting us towards a more preventative care model. For example, the status quo dictates that we don’t really talk to women (or men!) about fertility until it’s a problem. While fertility isn’t necessarily a “sexy” topic for someone in, say, their early twenties, other Masterclass-esque videos on things like mental health, sexual health, nutrition, fitness and sleep could serve as a gateway to the platform. Over time, consumers might make their way to a reproductive health class, learning how lifestyle, genetics, and age impacts fertility along the way. That would help people learn how to be proactive about their health in a manner that isn’t fear-mongering.

Overall, a platform like this could potentially buck our default behavior of relying on Dr. Google to self-diagnose and make conversations around health more proactive and engaging.

Taylor Majewski, Founder of Lemon Lab

Group buying for SMBs

A GPO/IT advisory that helps small business save money

SMBs have to deal with so many challenges, not least IT. For those not in the tech space that's often a particularly expensive and frustrating issue.

To that end, I think there's space for an IT service and provisioning company that focuses on helping small businesses. On the service side, something like this could help SMBs without budget to hire a full-time IT person adopt best practices, and ensure they're leveraging the right stack to meet their goals.

Moreover, by bundling SMBs together — particularly those that share a common local market —a provider like this could increase purchasing power. Vital tech infrastructure like cloud storage and computing could be purchased in bulk, with a service layer attached. SMBs would save money and get access to expertise.

Kunal Tandon, Managing Partner at El Cap Holdings

TikTok for Games

Simplifying game development through remixing

TikTok (and Instagram) have shown that with the right tools (particularly the ability to remix), non-professionals can create short-form video that's as engaging as what professionals make. By revenue, gaming is an even larger market than video… but only the best game developers and engineers can make fun games.

Building tools that allow anyone to make fun, short-form games (think Flappy Bird style games) and remix other games could be the foundation of an app that's even more popular than TikTok. I can't wait to see who cracks this code.

Ani Mohan‍, Co-founder and GM at GameSnacks

Understanding the world's most interesting businesses can feel daunting. It's time-consuming to dig through annual reports, old podcasts, company filings, and research papers to extract the essence of canonical companies.

The Generalist exists to simplify that process. We conduct deep-research on the the most important companies in the world, pulling out the lessons that matter. For a little over $4/week (on annual), you'll get access to impactful Sunday briefings, exclusive S-1 coverage, and more. All of my work is designed to help you build practical business wisdom and gain an edge.

This past weekend, Members got access to a deep-dive on Red Bull, an energy drink company...that doesn't make energy drinks.  A thread higlighting a few lessons of the piece, ended up going viral on Twitter.

If you want to improve your thinking, deepen your wisdom, and master the future, join as a member today. I'd love to welcome you aboard.

Join here

Coda

As always, clues are available to those that would like them. Just respond to this email.

Locking in a new high score, Shobit J was first to vanquish the foe of last week's Coda. He was joined by other savvy gamesmiths, notably Ron F, Greg K, Vivek J, Jithamithra T, and Ravi K.

The answer? Nolan Bushnell, founder of iconic gaming company, Atari.

Friends,

We've reached the end of Season 2. Over the past few months, we've shared +100 startup ideas vetted by some of the world's sharpest venture capitalists, founders, and operators.

You've heard from people like Rebecca Kaden, Josh Elman, Ann Miura-Ko, Julie Yoo, Zavain Dar, Charles Hudson, and many, many others. In turn, you've shared your thoughts and ideas, sparking connections and conversations between hundreds of builders. My hope is that, together, we've made it easier for entrepreneurs to take the next step.

We'll be taking a break over the coming weeks to collect ideas for Season 3 and spend some time on a new, related product. More on both soon.

If you'd like to keep sharing and discussing startup ideas in the meantime, you might enjoy The Generalist's private community, exclusively open to Members. If that sounds fun, you can sign up for $16.58/month on the annual plan.

It's Challenge Day with Future!

After sending today's email, I'm going for a run. And not a casual one.

Instead, I'm going to be running a timed 5K with the goal of finishing in 30 minutes or less. That would be an accomplishment for me.

As you might remember, I've been training for this for the past four weeks, supported by my Future coach, Eddie. He's been pivotal in planning, finding the right times to push me while also factoring in recovery. Even when I felt a little under-the-weather last week, he was there to help me adapt my training schedule.

I'm excited to give it my best shot.

I still have a few passes left for those that would like to try Future out. If you're interested in a free, no-risk, 45 day trial, just respond to this email. You'll get access to truly personalized training designed to help you hit your health goals. You'll also be able to connect with me through the app :)

Wish me luck!

Better, cheaper heat pumps

Reduce carbon emissions by replacing oil and gas furnaces with heat pumps

Heat pumps could meet 90% of the world's space heating needs but global adoption is at only 5%. Obstacles include initial cost of installation, especially in retrofitting existing buildings. Better, cheaper units along with the right financing and installation service could dramatically accelerate heat pump adoption.

I'd love to see more entrepreneurs tackling this problem.

Albert Wenger, Managing Partner at USV

NFT-based employee management

A tokenized access solution

Managing access to different systems is a pain. You have to add users to existing platforms (often at a cost), or go through the trouble of sending over usernames and passwords. That often doesn't feel very safe and is a continual hassle.

I think there's an opportunity to address this problem through NFTs, managed by an underlying platform. Rather than going through the rigamarole mentioned above, each person working at a company would be issued with a single tokenized identifier which provided access to work tools, compensation and tax details, accreditations, codes for physical access to an office, and more. A system like this would simplify onboarding and reduce complexity.

It could be used beyond the workplace, as well. Given the increasing amount of collaboration and contracting in the creator economy, I can imagine something like this proving useful there, too. Want to jam with another creator on a shared project? Issue them an NFT to access the tools they'll need, capture usage data whenever those tools are leveraged, and record payment details for tax purposes. Once the the project is done, you could remove authorization for that NFT.

I think of it as "people Legos."

Stew Bradley, Managing Partner at El Cap Holdings

Masterclass for Health

Engaging, care-driven content

One of the things that I think about daily—especially this year—is where to find reliable information about health. I mostly trust the people in my network who are doctors/researchers/therapists/scientists. Often, a lot of the questions I ask are evergreen.

I think this presents an opportunity: scale the knowledge of a network of charismatic health experts through engaging, Masterclass-like health content. This content could leverage celebrity in the same way that Masterclass has, especially since celebrities are increasingly partnering up with health companies as investors and co-founders.

I think a system like this could have particular power in shifting us towards a more preventative care model. For example, the status quo dictates that we don’t really talk to women (or men!) about fertility until it’s a problem. While fertility isn’t necessarily a “sexy” topic for someone in, say, their early twenties, other Masterclass-esque videos on things like mental health, sexual health, nutrition, fitness and sleep could serve as a gateway to the platform. Over time, consumers might make their way to a reproductive health class, learning how lifestyle, genetics, and age impacts fertility along the way. That would help people learn how to be proactive about their health in a manner that isn’t fear-mongering.

Overall, a platform like this could potentially buck our default behavior of relying on Dr. Google to self-diagnose and make conversations around health more proactive and engaging.

Taylor Majewski, Founder of Lemon Lab

Group buying for SMBs

A GPO/IT advisory that helps small business save money

SMBs have to deal with so many challenges, not least IT. For those not in the tech space that's often a particularly expensive and frustrating issue.

To that end, I think there's space for an IT service and provisioning company that focuses on helping small businesses. On the service side, something like this could help SMBs without budget to hire a full-time IT person adopt best practices, and ensure they're leveraging the right stack to meet their goals.

Moreover, by bundling SMBs together — particularly those that share a common local market —a provider like this could increase purchasing power. Vital tech infrastructure like cloud storage and computing could be purchased in bulk, with a service layer attached. SMBs would save money and get access to expertise.

Kunal Tandon, Managing Partner at El Cap Holdings

TikTok for Games

Simplifying game development through remixing

TikTok (and Instagram) have shown that with the right tools (particularly the ability to remix), non-professionals can create short-form video that's as engaging as what professionals make. By revenue, gaming is an even larger market than video… but only the best game developers and engineers can make fun games.

Building tools that allow anyone to make fun, short-form games (think Flappy Bird style games) and remix other games could be the foundation of an app that's even more popular than TikTok. I can't wait to see who cracks this code.

Ani Mohan‍, Co-founder and GM at GameSnacks

Understanding the world's most interesting businesses can feel daunting. It's time-consuming to dig through annual reports, old podcasts, company filings, and research papers to extract the essence of canonical companies.

The Generalist exists to simplify that process. We conduct deep-research on the the most important companies in the world, pulling out the lessons that matter. For a little over $4/week (on annual), you'll get access to impactful Sunday briefings, exclusive S-1 coverage, and more. All of my work is designed to help you build practical business wisdom and gain an edge.

This past weekend, Members got access to a deep-dive on Red Bull, an energy drink company...that doesn't make energy drinks.  A thread higlighting a few lessons of the piece, ended up going viral on Twitter.

If you want to improve your thinking, deepen your wisdom, and master the future, join as a member today. I'd love to welcome you aboard.

Join here

Coda

As always, clues are available to those that would like them. Just respond to this email.

Locking in a new high score, Shobit J was first to vanquish the foe of last week's Coda. He was joined by other savvy gamesmiths, notably Ron F, Greg K, Vivek J, Jithamithra T, and Ravi K.

The answer? Nolan Bushnell, founder of iconic gaming company, Atari.

Unlock the full article by becoming a Member. You'll get access to exclusive briefings and a private community designed to help you master the future.

Become a member