Writing by Peter Hilton

2020 startup company ideas

Another year, more free ideas 2020-12-29 #startups

Daniele Franchi

  1. 2014 ideas
  2. 2015-2017 ideas
  3. 2018 app ideas
  4. 2018 development ideas
  5. 2018-2019 ideas
  6. 2020 ideas ←
  7. 2021 ideas
  8. 2022 ideas

I chose to end the year with another batch of startup ideas, despite them having no business value, because they entertain me. Your mileage may vary.

Zoom mods

1. Zoom extension that tracks what headsets people use, and gets you to vote for who has the best audio. Everyone ranks the other meeting attendees by audio quality during the call, so the software can rate their headsets and microphones. Tentative product name: Am I The Audio Asshole? The pro version uses ‘AI’ to rank how each person’s Personal Boredom Factor as well.

2. Zoom extension that shows a custom personal ‘business card’ when you select someone’s name. Secret strategy: disrupt PowerPoint’s market by redirecting the marketing department’s graphic designers from churning out presentation slide graphics.

Slack mods

3. Slack bot that replaces direct messages with channels that have cute generated names. Make it easier to move discussion to open channels by removing the channel naming barrier. Select one of several cute naming schemes, like Animals (#boisterous-terrapins, #anxious-pterodactyls, etc.), TV Tropes, or fictional spacecraft.

4. Different Slack statuses for different people, to simulate how you would ‘welcome’ them when they approach your desk in an office. Use them to indicate different availability to different groups, like reaction emoji but for before someone sends a message. Call them premoji.

Social media

5. Twitter client that uses AI to detect and only show tweets that contain dad jokes and puns. Sometimes you want innocent language-based humour more than you want satirical commentary on the year’s ongoing geopolitical and pandemic disasters. The pro version has a auto-scroll configuration slider that lets you select a point on the reality spectrum between doom scrolling and joy scrolling.

6. App that manages book recommendations, and sends you personalised bookmarks from whoever recommended the book to you. You receive the physical bookmark after your social media or online retailers share that you have the book. The bookmark has a message from the person who recommended the book, and a link to their wish list.

7. Travel app that only shows one photo: your location’s most local food or dish. Don’t miss the cheese that they only make in the nearest village, or the liqueur that no-one’s ever heard of. Upload a selfie to prove you’ve tried it and unlock the next photo. Earn points, badges, achievements, etc.

8. App for recruiters to quickly look up a technology’s age in years, to avoid embarrassment, and so they don’t have to go to the trouble of checking the Initial release entry in the Wikipedia page’s summary table.

Software development

9. Take a common kind of programming, and relentlessly apply user experience design to the whole end-to-end developer experience. Take a broader view of software development than code editing. Redesign everything that creates a barrier to coding, ignoring non-requirements such as 1970s code editor support.

10. Browser plugin that ‘localises’ enterprise SaaS to use your company’s jargon. The difference between a company’s jargon and the way everyone else speaks can dwarf the difference between British and American English. Joining a new company can induce more linguistic trauma than moving to a new country.

11. ‘Increased contrast’ browser plugin for web sites Like increase contrast in the macOS accessibility options, but for web pages.


12. Posters of the Bicycle Mechanic Language Spreadsheet in every European bicycle shop language-spreadsheet in every European bicycle shop, followed by a similar shop-specific poster in every other kind of shop that sells small things with obscure names.

13. Gävlebocken TV series.
Each episode features a new decade, and a new cast who plot to burn down the Gävle goat while The Authorities attempt to foil their dastardly plans. At the end of the episode we learn which year it features, if we didn’t already work it out from the clues during the episode, and find out whether the goat burns down that year. It usually does!

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