Corey Haines
June 11, 2024

Ideas I was right about

Since I was 19, I’ve kept a folder of random business ideas I’ve had.

There are hundreds. Most are laughably bad. But it’s the practice of identifying opportunities and thinking through what you’d do that’s important.

Recording your business ideas trains your brain to think a certain way so that you can find ideas actually worth pursuing.

But there are also lots of good ideas that you might pass on. And I think it’s valuable to reflect on how other people pursue these ideas.

That way, you can compare your ideas and assumptions to real-life application, and thus have better ideas and assumptions in the future.

To illustrate, here’s a running list of ideas I’ve had that other people made happen:

Idea: Marketing attribution SaaS

Product: HockeyStack

In 2020, a friend and I were dead set on building a SaaS to solve marketing attribution for SaaS companies. We ultimately decided not too because of the headwinds of privacy, browsers slowly making cookies obsolete, and Apple obscuring referral data. This was my biggest pain point at Baremetrics and my big thesis was that web analytics have to be tied to Stripe or pipeline CRM data. Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t pursue this as I still think it’s going to get harder and harder for marketing attribution tech over time.

Idea: No code demo builder SaaS

Product: Navattic (and tons of others)

One of the biggest drivers of traffic and conversions for Baremetrics was the public demo and other Open Startups who decided to make their accounts publicly viewable. I believed every product should be able to be demoed like this without having to sign up. And that the ones who did would earn more trust from their audience and have a competitive advantage. Everyone I talked to said this would be too hard technically to build and that eventually everyone would want to bring it in house. I shouldn’t have listened to them.

Idea: Calendar scheduling SaaS

Product: SavvyCal

I did a lot of demos at Baremetrics, and Calendly drove me absolutely nuts. Making people switch back and forth between tabs to schedule a time, not being able to offer multiple time durations, and not being able to quickly personalize the links for people seemed like obvious flaws. I’m glad Derrick Reimer pursued this as he did a much better job executing on this than I ever could.

Idea: Job board SaaS

Product: Job Boardly

I had the grand idea to start a marketing job board in 2019. Inspired by the no-code movement and my love for Webflow, I built a hacky version with Webflow, Typeform, and Zapier. But I quickly realized how limited this tech stack was and knew a platform to specifically build and manage job boards would kill it. I should have built this. But I’m a happy customer of Job Boardly now.

Idea: HARO replacement

Product: Featured / Help a B2B Writer

I used HARO off and on to build backlinks to projects. The email-only system meant it was hard to know if my submissions would ever result in anything. I also learned the founder of HARO started doing millions in revenue the first year in business and later sold it for an insane amount of money. Seemed like it was ripe for disruption. So I built a prototype using Circle called “Help a Creator Out” AKA “HACO” (I know…). Ultimately I realized building a two sided marketplace that couldn’t rely on SEO would take a massive amount of effort and time, so I killed it.

Idea: Creatine tablets/pills/gummies

Product: Create

I’ve worked out fairly consistently since college and always hated making protein shakes. Eventually I bought premade protein shakes to get my daily source of whey, but I’d still have to drop in a scoop of creatine powder which would make the texture all grainy and clumpy. It seemed crazy to me that there was no way to consume creatine besides powder. I think I was one of Create’s earliest customers and even asked to invest.

Idea: Car insurance quote aggregator

Product: The Zebra

Every time I’ve gotten a new car, I had to go through the same hassle to go to all the car insurance providers websites, fill out all my info several times, get bombarded with texts and emails and calls, and then sort out the best deal. I wanted a way to plug my info in once, get instant quotes that I could easily compare, and then go through checkout. I would have no idea how to execute on this, but I’m glad someone did.

Idea: Google Maps for indoors

Product: HyperAR

The dude trope of not being able to find things in stores is real. I hate shopping. When people ask me to get them things at Target or Costco, I usually decline but I know it’ll take me so much time only to then ask a worker to escort me to each product. I like my trips to stores to be quick and efficient, avoiding having to go back to the same aisle multiple times for different items. I always thought that a way to create routes for planning out a trip and navigating where to find items in the store was a great idea.

Idea: Web book SaaS

Product: Basecamp Workbook

Self publishing has exploded in the last decade. And although classic ebook formats like EPUB and MOBI still dominate, there are a lot of books out there that are just gated on a website, e.g. Make by Pieter Levels. Publishing a book for free on a website is easy enough, but what if you want to gate it or charge for it? Then you need a lot of custom code.

Idea: Programmable desk display

Product: TRMNL

One day as I was scrolling Twitter I saw a picture of a device on a desk that showed that day’s Shopify sales. That’s awesome, except how do you do this for Stripe or for MRR or for anything else I want to track? I gave up on trying anything in the hardware space a long time ago, which is why I was stoked to be able to invest in TRMNL.

I’ll update this list as I inevitably find more.

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