A Killer Startup Idea

It was 2am, and I had been awake for about 30 minutes, bouncing my 7-month-old son to sleep. After the first few minutes of blurry-eyed swaying, I’d reached that familiar zone of high alertness and lucid thinking. Unable to go back to bed until my son was soundly asleep, yet physically unable to do anything productive with all this waking time, I started thinking about how these nightly hours could be better spent.

IdleCycles: SETI for Humans

You may have heard of the SETI project, whereby you can donate your computer’s idle computing power to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. When you’re not actively using your computer, the SETI software takes over and starts crunching numbers. The same principle is used by the Folding@home project for medical research.

My killer idea is to apply this same principle to people. Mums and dads in particular. Here’s how it would work:

  1. Companies or private individuals post questions or tasks to IdleCycles which demand human intellect and imagination to solve or answer. For example: “Please suggest an original and creative idea for a tech startup.
  2. Mums and dads who are bouncing their kids at night are able to use those otherwise wasted hours of thinking time by putting their intellect to the task of answering or solving the questions and tasks presented on the IdleCycles website (and/or app). For example: “Idea for startup: service that lets mums and dads who are bouncing their kids at night answer questions or tasks for rewards
  3. There is some kind of reward scheme for the mums & dads who submit answers, especially if those answers get used. Not quite worked out the details of this, but I’m pretty sure it should include vouchers for baby clothes and maybe cinema tickets (valid for up to 5 years).

Further Thoughts

  • The idea could be extended to people who are on the toilet for extended periods. Same principle applies. Might be some push-back from companies facing massive losses in employee productivity though.
  • Like almost everything on the internet involving crowdsourcing, it’ll likely degenerate into a sorry parody of itself after a short time (case in point - my “crowdsourced art experiment” drawacat.net is slowly becoming a gallery of dicks and boobs). Main use case would eventually be getting hapless mums and dads to solve CAPTCHAs for Russian cyber criminals. Measures should be taken to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.
  • If you think this is a great idea and want to use it for your startup, please go ahead. I hereby officially gift this killer idea to the world.
  • I made the infographic using a really cool, simple web app I found this morning which I think deserves a plug since it is free: http://www.easel.ly/