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Ideas and Failures

Idea threads


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Aug 13, 2018
Sorry, this is going to be a long post, you see it's a list of my failed business attempts and then a couple ideas I've been tossing around.
1. A couple years ago: partnership doing electronics educational kits with a coworker. He supposedly had a network of teachers and professors to sell to. I ended up designing, updating, maintaining the web site, writing the firmware/software, designing sourcing the kits, choosing the name, designing the logo. My partner declared himself CEO brought additional people in without consulting me. To maintain the balance of power I dragged my wife into it, but she didn't want to do it and that dragged everyone down. I got fed up and left, they attempted to replace me but that person left as well. The business is still operational but I don't know if it's making any money.
2. Selling fountain pens. I always liked fountain pens so I thought it would be a good niche for me. I tried a bunch of different low cost but pretty ones on aliexpress/alibaba and settled on a couple. At first I thought it was gaining momentum but I never managed to get my price in line with my customer acquisition cost, and every more expensive brand or model I tried sold much worse. Looking at junglescout now (didn't know about it then) I realize no one manages to sell them very well. Only the top brands sell well and they are expensive and difficult to buy wholesale as well.
3. Making and selling 3d printer parts, arduino boards. I had a bunch of open source stepper controllers made at a boardshop in china back when reprap parts were hard to source. I spent a couple months getting pcb artwork, sourcing suppliers, etc, and came out with a bunch of opto boards, a bunch of sanguinololu boards and a bunch of stepstick boards. I put my site on the reprap wiki for suppliers of "vitamins" (what the reprap project calls parts that can't be printed). I made about $400 the first month then orders trickled in for a few more months, then the low cost suppliers in china started selling direct on ebay and my sales dried up completely.
4. Android app for arduino/bluetooth projects: It's still up but only has a half dozen users. It's an android app that connects with an HC-05 module, it comes with a library for arduino that lets you decide what controls you want. When you connect the phone it queries your project for a list of controls and automatically generates a remote control layout on screen. This way you can app control your project with no android knowledge.
5. Web site design: This was way back in the late 90s in highschool. I failed because I didn't know how to market at all. I only had 1 customer through family, and she was happy with me but I never managed to expand at all, despite approaching all the local businesses I knew.
6. Shareware: Also in high school I wrote a shareware game version of mancala for Mac OS 7. It was a big effort for me at the time. I uploaded it to all the shareware sites I could and sent it in to a mac gaming magazine I knew. The game magazine normally included a CD full of freeware and shareware I asked to get on it. I don't remember the answer exactly, but I do remember they didn't put my game on the CD, but instead a couple months later included a game that was almost identical from a different author. At the time I was pretty upset about it. In retrospect I realize it wasn't the best game.
7. Android game: First effort android game I built on andengine a couple years back. Wasn't expecting it to make huge money but it made 0. I think it has a few dozen downloads. My hard drive crashed shortly after and that was when I realized I never backed up the sources. It's still up on the play store but I have no way to update it anymore.

Current Ideas:
1. Bang my head against the wall with junglescout and market research trying to find some products that can still be successfully sourced from alibaba and sold for a large markup.
2. An integrated billing, scheduling, and training app for a smallish market niche (but there are only 1000 potential customers).
3. Go through the shopify forums until I find a problem I can solve with a custom app then sell that as a subscription.
4. An small inventory/accounting service that can do inventory value and cost using FIFO for small businesses. This is something I wanted and ended up making myself in MS Access (I know...). I could polish it up and do it in MySQL/PHP/AJAX.
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