Project Ideas

When I was younger, this section was titled “Start-ups” (I’ve left some old start-up ideas below). However, as I’ve aged, my interest in start-ups has waned, replaced by a desire to create projects with deeper personal significance. Here are some projects that excite me for building in the future:

  1. A food market and tourist destination in Toronto, featuring stalls that represent over 100 different ethnic cuisines.
  2. A digital nomad hotel in Africa, aimed at attracting Western tech workers. The goal is to foster greater interest in supporting and developing projects in Africa, and to integrate African tech workers more seamlessly into the global knowledge economy.
  3. A coffee table book profiling Syrian migrants who established Syrian restaurants worldwide (primarily oriented around falafel), after the Syrian civil war. The book would ask simple questions about their experience (ie how they changed the food to fit the local taste, if they mostly hire other Syrians, how included they feel etc) to explore how they adapted to the local community and to learn about what life is like in each different location.
  4. A Jewish history museum with a focus on the fun and special aspects of Jewish history, presented in an uplifting and positive way.

(old start up ideas below)

High trust sub-letting

To create a platform enabling people to sublet within high-trust communities (e.g., companies, community groups, etc.) becomes increasingly relevant with the rise of remote work. People are interested in living in different places for short periods or visiting various parts of the world. However, short-term rental costs are often prohibitively expensive, primarily due to trust concerns, such as uncertainty about the place being as advertised or fears of property damage or theft. These issues are significantly mitigated in high-trust communities.

The platform would allow individuals to post photos and descriptions of their homes, along with the dates when their property is available (e.g., during vacations or when they are open to a home swap). It would provide a space for others to view what’s available within their community. Each listing would be private and only viewable by members of that specific community.

Residential real estate prediction market

People love browsing Zillow, looking at house listings and attending open houses. The idea is a fantasy game where interested parties are shown real estate listings in their city and awarded points/prizes based on how accurate they forecast the selling price of the house and its time on the market.

Crowdsourced prediction markets are able to provide remarkably accurate data. Having the ability to generate accurate valuations for residential real estate is enormously valuable. Here are some potential uses of the data:

  • Help sellers run A/B tests on the showing/online listing of their house;
  • Help prospective sellers know how much their house is worth without putting it on the market;
  • Help prospective buyers know how much the market values a house before they bid;
  • Helps large scale institutional investors value houses for large scale purchases of residential real estate; and
  • Helps lenders know how much a house is worth for the purpose of providing mortgages on the property.

Authentic cultural experiences in your city

A platform for people in cities like Toronto to have authentic immersive experiences with people of different ethnic backgrounds. Cities are filled with people from many diverse backgrounds but people rarely feel comfortable engaging with people of different backgrounds about their backgrounds. On this platform, people of different ethnic backgrounds will host dinners for other people in their city who are interested in learning more about their culture. This is not to compete with going to a Turkish restaurant and being exposed to a small amount of Turkish culture but to make cultural significantly more accessible and in an entirely new way.

Online event platform independent of Facebook

Most concerts and other large events now have Facebook event pages dedicated for patrons to discuss the upcoming event/share details about the event (ie what time the band comes on stage), and sell tickets for the event. Given the migration out of Facebook and the increasing negative sentiment for the platform, I believe there is room for a third party to create a successor to Facebook events that instead of requiring a Facebook account to participate in, can use an online web profile (ie a Google/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram login).

Platform for athletes to get feedback from “coaches” on videos they submit online for review

Recreational athletes can often benefit tremendously by watching videos of themselves performing (whether its to evaluate their golf stroke, tennis serve etc). Given there are a lot of people on the internet with a lot of athletic knowledge, and the relative ease of providing feedback for videos on the internet, I propose a platform where athletic “coaches” can be paid a few dollars to provide feedback on video’s submitted by athletes to help improve their game.

Nextdoor but for new parents

(self explanatory)

Subscriptions for routine purchases

Everyone knows they are going to get X number of haircuts per year, likely at the same barber/stylist. This applies to many things like restaurants for lunch, or loafs of bread from their favourite bakery. I propose a company, similar to groupon, which will partner with small businesses and sell passes for X number of haircuts per year, or Y number of lunches at their restaurant, or Z number of croissants. This will increase customer loyalty, consumption, cash flow and the friction it takes for the customer to switch to another business. The customer pays up front but gets a discount on goods/services they know they are going to consume.

Custom biographies for recently deceased

As we society becomes more secular (and with an increase in the aging population), there will be changes in how people embrace the death of their loved ones. I would like to create a company that will write short 20-30 page biographies to both document and commemorate the recently deceased. 

Business attire directed towards students

Picture this: there are thousands of students every year entering their first year of law school in Canada (tens of thousands if you include the United States). Most enter with an old suit from when they were a teenager, and a few poorly fitting dress shirts. 18 months later when they begin working as summer students (or 28 months later when they begin as articling students), they will be expected not only to have 3-5 suits, 8+ dress shirts, and all the accompanying accessories (brief case, overcoat, brown shoes/belts etc), but to know what the appropriate style is. Business attire and the related fashion taboos take time to learn. Despite the massive audience in a similar situation, there are no stores/brands who specifically target students, or cater towards their situation.

I propose a business that organizes pop-up shops at the various law (and other professional schools across North America ie  MBA programs) selling affordable, high quality business attire, and spoon feeding them all they need to know.

Dynamic pricing for parking lots

Infrastructure for parking lots to easily and cheaply transition to a digitized, dynamic pricing systems. The program would forecast supply and demand based on previous parking history for the location/date/time, in conjunction with any events happening in the area. The pricing system would allow the lot to increase use in off-peak hours, while extracting more profit from parkers during in-demand hours.

Kickstarter for music

In a future where everyone has a music streaming subscription service, why would anyone buy an album?

Many Bands are no longer making sufficient amounts of money from album sales. This is only going to go down in the future. While piracy used to be the dominant problem, now, album sales are being replaced by streaming subscriptions, which are only becoming more popular. While this is legal, artists are compensated far less than they are used to. Without sufficient compensation for the creation of albums, many bands will simply stop producing albums (or make less of them). In this scenario, both the musicians and fans lose out.

The purpose of intellectual property is not to compensate someone for their work, but to incentivize them to create new work. In light of the changes in the music industry, I would like to see a model where artists are incentivized to create as much or more music than currently exists today.

My proposed model is to use crowdsourcing to finance new albums.

Bands would list the albums they could potentially release (ie their next album, a live album, b sides etc) on a website where once the band has reached their asking price, they will start working on the release of the album. The price listed is not how much the album costs the band to make, but the amount of money that it would take the band to feel sufficiently incentivized to release the album. Once the album reaches this point, the band would release the album for free online.

This system will not make the artists as much as they made in the past, but merely more than they will otherwise be making once subscription services become ubiquitous and nobody has any incentive to pay for an album.

Under such a system, because the artists will not be releasing the album until it reaches a sufficient level of financing, fans will have incentive to support the album or risk the proposition of it being released much later, or potentially, not at all.

Artists would continue to get the support/sales from those who already pay for music/stream music, but this model creates two new streams of revenue.

  • People who value the album a lot more could pay proportionally. Under the current system, if someone really likes an artist, they are still only going to be paying them a few dollars for streaming their album through Spotify, or at the very best, buy their album for $15. If Drake’s new album has a $100 value to someone (either because they have lots of money or they just really love Drake), they should be able to pay however much the album is worth to them. With the possibility that the band might not produce the new album, or that it will come out much later, fans who value the music a lot will be incentivized to contribute to the artist however much they value the album.
  • Cheap fans. Despite being devoted fans, many people don’t support their favourite musicians. Under the current system, many fans just wait for their favourite band’s album to be released and either download or stream it. This occurs because there is no incentive for these cheap fans to support the artist. They will receive the same album at the same time whether they pay for it or not. With my proposed model, fans who currently do not pay artists would be more willing to contribute because their money actually makes a difference in the timing/creation of the album in question. By contributing to the album, the album has a greater likelihood of being created/comng out earlier. Therefore, these fans actually benefit by paying the artist. Under the current system, there is no benefit for these fans to support the artists. When fans have an incentive to support an artist, they are more likely to do so.

My proposed business is a centralized website similar to Kickstarter that does the financing for new albums. The business would receive 3% of all album revenue. For this to work, this business would need to be THE spot where albums are listed to capitalize on the active audience/built in advertising. The company would also provide actuarial services to project how much each album is “worth”, and how long it would take to acquire the necessary financing. Lastly, the company would also have a team of marketers to help promote the project to the band’s audience and the internet as a whole.

Prediction market/fantasy game for musical discovery

A record label or an online music store/subscription service should create an online fantasy market for bands/artists. Each artist/band will be given a price, that users can “buy”/invest in based on how many users follow them/listen to their music. Depending on how many plays/follows the artists get in the coming weeks, the cost of the artist/band increases. The goal is for users to earn the greatest return possible by investing in the most promising bands.

This program would serve two purposes:

  1. it would enjoyable for users of that service to play this game. It would aid users in musical discovery and get them more involved in music period. Additionally, it will make these suers more reliant on that specific service (IE foster brand loyalty to Spotify) and be a fun game for one to be immersed in.
  2.  The crowdsourced data of who users think is going to become successful could be used akin to a prediction market, to provide important data in helping record labels select which musicians to invest in. There is great uncertainty in which musicians will continue to grow their fanbase, and “how hot” they will become. The crowdsourced aggregate found in this data would provide very important and informative knowledge on who is likely to succeed that might be missed by other metrics.