Potential Startup Ideas for 2020

Some thoughts on Christmas from a coffee shop. A lot of these are problems I’ve been thinking about or directly encountered.

International Visa Management 

  • If you’re North American/European, this might not be as big a problem for you but if you’re not the process of getting visas is terrible.
  • If anyone is building a plaid for legal identity/visas, please save me from this hell of entering the same basic information, the set of documents, credit card information, references, etc. 
  • Tourism across the world continues to grow and making this easier to unlock a whole lot more travel. 
  • A key challenge here will be intercepting the monopoly of VFS over this process but do think it’s possible with a few countries to test a pilot with. 

Notes/Documents + Task Management + Links

  • The context for tasks resides in documents. Documents are filled with links. Links are websites or resources/assets in other apps. Making it all work together I think remains a very real opportunity.
  • So far, dropbox paper & notion come closest to the best. There’s one or two smaller co’s (Roam & Pine) which could potentially become the defaults here.
  • P.S I want to write a longer note doing some research on the future of productivity

Privacy & Security Management 

  • I’m relatively paranoid and more people should be, especially in the wake of multiple scandals. However, it is cumbersome and very hard to get new people started on the path of trying to secure themselves and do any kind of ongoing monitoring. 
  • Here’s a list of some things I’ve done and I’d love to see tools to simplify this: 
    • Phone Numbers: I maintain a public and private number to reduce attack vectors
    • Credit Cards: Use privacy.com to generate credit card numbers for payments on shady websites.
    • Settings on phone / laptop: around notifications, location, sharing, background refresh, camera/microphone, ad limiting etc. 
    • Regular audits of platform apps: removing unwanted apps, disabling web & location tracking on google, etc. 
    • Password management: Continues to be a challenge to get users to adopt. (Either this needs to be done by OS providers or we need to get rid of passwords completely and move to magic links + otp verification)
    • VPN: Quite valuable for somebody who uses public wifi’s frequently. 
    • HaveIBeenPwned.com: Set up account alert monitoring for various email addresses 
  • One co. that’s interesting for some parts of this is Jumbo which launched earlier this year. 

Venture Debt Financing in India

  • Spending time here in the last few weeks here, there’s a clear opportunity to build a fund focused on venture debt in India. There’s only a companies focused on this (innoven, alteria) and none of traditional banks have any plans to doing anything in this space. 
  • Especially in a world where’s there’s more D2C & SaaS companies being built in the country, the demand for this product is only likely to continue to grow.

OS for SMBs

  • Growth for small businesses, especially in traditional sectors, remains hard as it’s hard to operationalise and become process driven. In a world where they are not used to paying for SaaS subscriptions you’d likely need to make money in adjacent ways (first: financing) but better tooling 
  • I think of Square doing this well for retail companies (stores & restaurants) but think there’s an opportunity to build in 100’s of other kinds of small businesses including real estate, real-world 1-3 person shops around specific skills (plumbing, furniture makers, etc.), freelance tech talent, etc. 
  • Enabling the sustainable GPD growth via better ERP tooling and process management (eg. Bringing in better metrics visibility, okr accountability, task delegation etc.) 
  • & Freelances?: do think there’s a some overlap with this and helping freelancers manage themselves and their businesses. 

Home Financing Products

  • Homes are getting harder to buy for a variety of reasons in the cities that people want to live with. 
  • Additionally the primary way of purchasing a home remains the 30 year mortgage. I say this caution but do sincerely believe there’s likely many places to innovate here. We’re starting to see the rise of equity sharing/downpayment assistance, fractional ownership, rent-to-town, rent/mortgage splits, etc. and am excited to see the adoption of some of the above services but also many new ones. 

Family Account Management

  • Over the last couple of years, I’ve moved to all things Apple: from music, to storage, to devices, for the entire family as it’s really helped do account management much better.
  • However, it’s still complicated to get family members onboard on new services, organise the billing, and manage the subscriptions. 
  • I think there’s an opportunity to build an Okta for Families. One that I would pay for but also could be a great way for subscription apps to increase conversion & retention. This one’s a personal problem more so than anything else though. 

Unroll.me / Substack, Medium, Mailchimp Aggregator

  • In the last 3 months I’ve now subscribed to more than 10 Substack newsletters which has me thinking about so many different issues & opportunities. Brings back 2016 memories of medium publications and mail chimp newsletters. 
  • How do you better read the subscriptions without cluttering your inbox. What about unsubscribing and discovery? Does it make sense to integrate with emails clients, potentially? All TBD, but. if personal audiences are having a moment right now then it seems like an opprotune time to solve customer problems here. 

If you’re building any of these, let’s chat me@varadhja.in. I’d love to help, if relevant, and invest 🙏🏽 More about me here

Misc collection:

  • B2B Marketplaces around commodities
  • Contract management tooling 
  • Real estate transaction management 
  • Better financial management at startups: budget, planning, forecasting, ap/ar 
  • Professional feedback & references library for personal growth (analogous to medical records which can be seen by any doctor)
  • Artist discovery -> TikTok now for music. What other creative industries mighty we be able to improve new talent discovery in a non-direct way. 

By varadh

My general mission in life is to be helpful to people building products that have a positive impact on the world. If you're building something awesome, I'd love to chat: me@varadhja.in 🤖