Writing by Peter Hilton

2021 startup company ideas

Another year, more free ideas - 30 December 2021 #startups

Light bulbs

Daniele Franchi

Startup ideas have no business value, but entertain me more than most Twitter cliches. If you like them too, then you might also enjoy the previous collections:

Travel & entertainment

1. Hotel ratings web site that lets you choose which six things you care about, and rates hotels accordingly. Call it Six Star Hotels. Inspired by Bodil Stokke’s hotel reviews on Twitter.

2. Whatshalfway but for public transport, with a minimise flights option. Now we all work remote, want to meet quarterly, but would rather fly less.

3. Faceted search for Netflix. Netflix wastes your time with content you either don’t want to watch or already have. Instead, I want it to ‘show me series, comedy, less than 30 minutes, not seen, not rated, released since 2010’. Inspired by faceted search science fiction Programmer at Large, by David R. MacIver, and his tweet:

Three words: Ubiquitious. Faceted. Search.

‘Computer, find me all of the things. OK, now narrow it down to the ones with this property. Now highlight…’

We are surrounded by all of these giant databases of stuff, and almost invariably lack the basic tools to work with them.


4. All-you-can-eat restaurant for programmers… called Steak Overflow. Programmers love a good pun even more than Stack Overflow, so they’d swarm this place and buy the merchandise.

5. Reality TV set in an experimentally opened Dutch bar. A panel of behind-the-scenes healthcare workers vote people who don’t maintain social distance out of the bar, during the COVID-19 pandemic, and into enforced isolation.

6. Cafe with no talking allowed. Curated ambiance. No noisy open-fronted drinks fridges either.

Software as a service

7. Zoom plugin that adds a Muzak button to play elevator music during awkward silences and technical issues. The Enterprise version only plays the approved corporate soundtrack.

8. Blogging platform that starts off publishing a plain text document, and then adds another small feature to the set up for every 1000 words you publish. The no-code version of spending more time building a CMS than actually blogging.

9. Web site with the correct alignment chart for every software category. Charge for the enterprise software listings.

10. RSS reader that doesn’t track you. When Google became evil, we all switched to DuckDuckGo for search. We still need a Google Reader replacement.

11. Social media, but with citations and attribution. It sounds implausible, but so did Wikipedia.

Software development

12. Issue tracker that acknowledges that the programmer mind is a stack. Designed for working on an issue by first doing half the work, then creating several ‘sub-issues’ and recursing on those, until reaching a limit and continuing the second half of all of them.

13. An open standard for compressed tabular data that does for CSV files what PNG and WebP did for BMP and GIF files. Today’s advanced data formats only serve niche applications.

14. Global Variables as a Service. It isn’t really global if it’s scoped to one system. Generated names are free, highly desirable meaningful names cost $99/year, ultra-short variable names are $349/year, and politics is banned because we’re asshole founders.