13 Startup Business Ideas

Last week I went up to San Francisco to cover Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH, a conference where entrepreneurs present their startup business ideas and investors open their wallets and invest. Over $ 1million in official investments were made and only God (and Jason Calacanis) knows how much money was invested behind the scenes.

Being someone who is obsessed with ideas, I walked away amazed by the quality of talent and ideas presented. Great job by all the folks behind this event. Over the coming weeks, I am hoping to present you with interviews with lots of folks who launched their ideas at the conference (if you presented at LAUNCH, I will guarantee you an interview).

Anyhow, in this post I am going to tell you about 3 brilliant startup business ideas and then 10 more startup ideas that I think will end up being very profitable and successful, as well.

The 3 brilliant ideas will, in my opinion, end up being game-changers and revolutionize their industries.

Having worked in advertising and direct response for the past decade, I chose another 10 ideas that should end up being successful. With those, I am not necessarily looking at ideas that will transform industries, but still ones that have a great chance of being very successful (and profitable).

Keep in mind that this is just my opinion and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if a huge idea slipped past me. A lot of the success behind a business is ultimately tied back to the people–and I only got to observe each entrepreneur for about 5 minutes.

Here we go. Let me start with the 3 startup business ideas I found to be brilliant. These will change industries.


Minbox is an email client that organizes your inbox not by messages, but rather by people. Meaning important folks like my family, friends and close business associates automatically capture the presence they deserve in my inbox. This beautifully designed product will work with any email client (POP, IMAP, Gmail, etc.) and is one of the first true innovations I’ve seen in the email space in a long time.


Space Monkey is a hard drive which stores your data both locally and in the cloud–at large levels. That means you can back up to a terabyte of data both locally and in the cloud (at fast speeds) for about $10 a month. This will likely change the way the world stores data.


Captricity is a hosted data entry web app and API for helping organizations that use paper forms quickly extract quality data into spreadsheets. What that means is you can take whatever data you have stored in paper forms, scan it and then use it in a functioning spreadsheet. It’s one thing to scan a form, but a whole other to be able to take the data on those forms and automatically import them into a digital spreadsheet. The applications are endless, from schools, to nonprofits, to civic organizations all the way to election data.

These are 3 brilliant ideas that I truly think will be known and used by a large percentage of their target markets. I think Minbox will become a mainstream email client, Space Monkey will be hugely popular with techies and early adopters and Captricity will be used by data-driven organizations all across the globe.

But there were many more ideas, some of them will surely be game-changers, but I am just not smart enough to recognize them. Here are 10 more ideas that I think will end up being really successful–and likely very profitable.


The best way to describe this one  is TurboTax for financial aid. Filling out financial aid applications is a pain in the neck and oftentimes it’s hard to navigate options and choose the right ones. Alltuition makes it easy to not only find the right financial aid options for you, but also helps with filling out the applications.


When someone dies, besides dealing with the emotional pain, there is a lot of administrative work that has to be handled–including a lot of financial decisions. Benetracker helps connect the financial and emotional dots when a loved one passes away.


Usually dating websites are anonymous. Every one on the market today is anonymous. Users are asked a bunch of questions to figure out who they really are and who they might be compatible with. theComplete.me is the only site that actually pulls the data that’s already out there about you and uses it to create your profile and also figure out who you might be compatible with.

I know some people think that anonymity might be a really good thing when it comes to online dating. Why do I think this will be a success? MySpace was anonymous. Facebook, not so much.

Plus, when your entire competition does things one way, and you’re the only player who truly does something different, you’ll appeal to some slice of the market by default.


What if every employee took 15 minutes every week to answer 5 questions about their productivity, happiness and issues in the workplace? And then those answers got summarized for their manager to act upon? That’s what 15Five does. Best of all, the system keeps working upwards so in the end, the CEO is able to see what’s going right/wrong in the company–and then drill down into specifics when needed.

I love 15Five.


This is Pinterest for families, with a touch of Ancestry.com built in. Love it. Hunuku helps families become closer and is a place where families build a beautiful and evolving quilt filled with stories of the past and present in order to inspire the future.


You remember when you first discovered how to advertise on Google and realized the impact that could have on your business? And you know how right now you’re fully aware that your customers are on mobile devices all the time? But you don’t know how to start marketing to them.  Well, AppStack makes it easy for local businesses to get mobile customers. As easy as Google?

No, easier.


Setting up a fund for your child can be complicated. There are all kinds of forms, all kinds of tax implications and all kinds of investment decisions to make. This is why most people don’t save enough for their children’s futures. TrustEgg takes care of the process so all you need to do is figure out how to make the money to save.


I spent the last 10 years in advertising and I know that trying to figure how to evaluate the effectivness of a TV commercial before it goes live is somewhat of a holy grail. I am not sure if this is exactly how YouEye meant for its product to be used, but it could be a killer business for the company, which does online usability testing with webcam eye tracking.

Virtual Gaming Worlds

Social gaming meets licensed online gambling. Imagine Farmville–except rather than building a farm, you’re managing a casino. And then you invite your friends to play with you for real money. This isn’t legal right now in the U.S., but I can tell you with certainty that Laurence, the young gentleman who presented Virtual Gaming Worlds, will be a very rich man.

Licenses 123

In my opinion, this was the least sexy idea presented at LAUNCH, yet it might be the most useful. Licenses123 is the only place you need to go as a business owner to determine which business licenses you need and how much they cost–custom tailored to your city and state. And in some cases, you can fill out and submit the form right then and there.

There were many more ideas, some of which I am sure will be wildly successful.  Here is a quick overview of other startup business ideas I saw at LAUNCH. The descriptions come directly from the startups, so blame them for any mistakes. Blame me for any mistakes above.

Other Business Startup Ideas

Habit Labs – Habit Labs is building the code for healthy behavior change – bringing the app store to health.

Hadza – Hadza enables people to construct and enjoy simultaneous collective-video experiences in ways never previously possible.

myLanguage – myLanguage is building a disruptive freemium and enterprise language translation solution using cloud, crowd and NLP (ASR, TTS, MT, TM) on mobile and web for the $30 billion language services market.

Robin – Robin is a Siri-like personal voice assistant on the road.

Local Motion – Local Motion is a local electric vehicle that leverages your social graph.

That’s Suspicious Behavior – That’s Suspicious Behavior is a virtual neighborhood watch, which allows users to report and view suspicious activities in their neighborhoods and communities.

The Tap Lab – The Tap Lab makes mobile games with a real-world twist.

U Grok It – U Grok It is the smartphone way to find your misplaced stuff.

Causecast – Cause integration leader Causecast offers companies a user-friendly system for employee volunteering, giving, matching, rewarding and disaster relief, fostering profound corporate support of nonprofits while strengthening the ability to recruit and retain employees.

HipSwap – HipSwap is a mobile and web marketplace that makes it easy to post items for sale, enables you to shop the most fabulous closets, homes and shops in your neighborhood and offers local pick-up and delivery.

Storybricks – Build your own MMORPG.

Trigger – Trigger.io is the simplest way to build for both mobile and web.

Copper  – Online currency of appreciation.

Moosify – Flirting + music = moosify; connecting people through their music taste and facilitating breaking the ice.

Wanderfly – Visual travel discovery.

zabbi – A social network for sharing emotions.

happiily  – happiily tracks and reports on employee happiness inside organizations.

MeetCute – MeetCute is the most romantic way to meet someone. Or, it will help you meet someone cute, in a cute way, just like they do in the movies.

Tolq.com – Tolq.com translates any website into multiple languages in 10 clicks or less.

adFreeq, Inc. – adFreeq is a socially integrated classified ad service, embedded in your site, that brings buyers and sellers together in real-time.

OFFLANE  – OFFLANE is the world’s first truly portable digital newsstand.

Politix  – Politix is the place to build your political profile by interacting with the news around the 2012 election.

Couple Street – The social network for two.

Fantasy Politics – Fantasy Politics is fantasy football for politics, with data driven content from the media and political campaigns.

GonnaBe – The platform for what’s going to happen.

Nitchy/SnapTat  – Nitchy makes vertical specific photo apps for existing passionate communities.

Alohar Mobile – Alohar Mobile has created a mobile location behavior analytics platform based on novel persistent-sensing technologies, which enable developers to build automatic and predictive apps, such as smart persistent assistants, and always-on mobile games, health and shopping apps.

Bloc  – Easiest way to learn how to code.

UpTo – UpTo’s ‘future-tense’ social platform allows users to see what their friends are up to ahead of time and share what they will be up to straight from their calendar.

image credit: LAUNCH

The 100 Best Books For Entrepreneurs

Sign up for our emails and we'll send you a list of the 100 best books for entrepreneurs, which we compiled by analyzing over 3,000 interviews.

Powered by ConvertKit