Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Today I registered for the TechCrunch Disrupt

Posted by shannonclark on July 24, 2012

originally posted to my Google+ account – reposting here for posterity 

Today I registered for the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon here in SF in September and I’ve started thinking about what I want to build. One thought is an application that builds upon what I started my first company, JigZaw (with a Z not the sell other people business cards company) to build – namely a really smart calendar.

But with a twist.

Instead of being a calendar – or even an online schedule/list of upcoming events (of which there are both lots and frankly nothing very great) this would be focused on a related problem – but with a very different UI and solution.

The core idea (which I’m posting here as I usually post ideas – I would be interested in building this and am planning on possibly pursing this, if someone else wants to build it do so though I ask for at a minimum some acknowledgement and would be interested in being involved, but I’m not claiming any kinda of IP on ideas) is:

Countdowns and Deadlines.

Countdowns are descending reminders about when something will start (such as 100 hours to the 2012 Olympics – though the units can be days, weeks or even years instead of hours or minutes). Mostly countdowns for an event would actually be a SET of related countdowns – for example “countdown to when SXSW panel submissions are open” along with “countdown to hotel registration opening”, “countdown to registration opening” and “countdown to conference starting….”

Countdowns are for events that haven’t yet happened/started

in contrast:

Deadlines are for an event/happening that has started and will end/stop at a specific time

Often a countdown will end and a related deadline will start (i.e. “Deadline for SXSW panel submissions”)

The idea for this application is that individuals could select countdowns and related deadlines to pay attention to / be reminded about in the app from countdowns and deadlines setup by other users (and/or by the company or corporate partners). These could be in LOTS of categories – release dates for movies or books, ticket sales for touring bands, festivals, sporting events, school related dates, sales at favorite stores (online or offline) and much much more.

Most countdowns and deadlines would be default PUBLIC though the option would be there for you to also track personal, private deadlines (work deadlines for example)

Alongside your view of pending deadlines and active countdowns you might also overlap reoccurring activities/goals/to-do’s (walk 10,000 steps each day etc) but this last feature is one that I think is optional and we might leave out in the first version.

Individuals would be able to add and share new countdowns.

Each countdown or deadline would be associated with both a description and a link to an related resource – ideally one that would reflect any future CHANGES to that event (i.e. extension of a deadline or postponement/cancelation of an event being counted down to)

Once you have selected a number of things to track and pay attention to this service would then be able to offer at least two compelling additional services:

1) Show you related countdowns/deadlines which you might want to also track – i.e. next year’s conference if you are tracking this year’s or the same conference/show offered in a different region. Over time this might get refined to learn which categories you care so much about that you want to know every instance of that event (PAX & PAX East for example) vs. more common events you might not care about every instance of (every hockey game played in the NFL for example vs the home games of your favorite team)

2) Show you PEOPLE you might want to meet/connect with due to shared interests. This might start with leveraging the Facebook social graph to show you shared interests across your existing friends (assuming you and your friends are both using this service) but eventually this might also help you discover others with many common interests nearby.

This service would likely list a LOT of events from sites such as Meetup which would be a really rich data source.

In terms of the business model(s) for this service I see many different options. One simplistic one is that non-humans wanting to have accounts (to create events) would pay for that right. (i.e. event organizers, companies running sales, film studios etc). This professional fee would scale in some dimension and would offer them a rich suite of tools and functionality. It would be available to “human” users as well at a reduced price assuming these features are of value to some individuals as well (i.e. folks who run a number of personal events for example – a musician for instance)

Other options: some affiliate fees on sales driven by this service – either links to online (or offline) sales or links that are to ticket/event sales directly. (in many cases however these would have to individually negotiated and aren’t all that high in many cases)

Direct sales of the mobile apps (debatable – a free app may drive more user growth and still result in greater revenues particularly if the professional/corporate layer was an optional in-app subscription purchase)

This type of application and web service won’t change the world – nor will it be a billion+ business but I can see how this could be a very nice profitable standalone business OR a rich addition to an existing web business. I also see how to build this affordably and in a way that should scale to quite large numbers.

(and I have many many years worth of past research and development that should allow me to build some really powerful and rich tools to power this service – to check links for relevancy, to automate the updates when data changes and eventually to also discover and search out related or new countdowns/deadlines)

So who is interested in helping me build this – either as developers or investors?

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One Response to “Today I registered for the TechCrunch Disrupt”

  1. A few additional thoughts:

    - generate an automated email daily (or weekly) that shows at a glance all of the countdowns and deadlines you are following – both public and private (deadlines are things that have started but have to done by a given date, countdowns are things that will happen in the future that you might want to prepare for)

    - whenever you create a countdown or a deadline you get the option of making it private (default assumption is that it is public) AND you are shown potentially similar/identical already existing countdowns/deadlines with the option to select one (or more) of them instead of creating the new one – or in addition to creating the new one

    - generally most COUNTDOWNS will lead to a DEADLINE after they hit zero (i.e. “Tickets for SXSW go on sale…” turns into “Buy Tickets for SXSW at the early registration price” which might turn into “buy tickets for SXSW” (ending whenever pre-registration ticket sales stop)

    - many COUNTDOWNS will generate more than one DEADLINE on starting and/or additional related COUNTDOWNS (i.e. to continue with SXSW panel registration leads to panel voting leads to tickets go on sale but also hotel room blocks open up for sale to hotel rooms on sale etc)

    - I see a few ways to do this initially – either prepopulate a lot of countdowns & deadlines from existing sources (i.e. translate Meetups, Lanyrd etc into this new service) OR we could take the position of “any event no use has added is less interestingt to users”)

    - an alternative to the last item might be to prepopulate but then make clear things that no user has added – and perhaps allow users to modify/adjust/even edit unclaimed items to clarify/refine what was automatically generated

    - as a partial business model businesses/events etc could claim entire blocks and add them into the system as ‘official’ entries with validated content, links (perhaps even discount offers) etc.

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