About 2 years ago, while thinking “now what?” during one of my barren periods when things were not turning out too good, I stumbled upon an idea I thought was not only useful, but also has good commercial viability. The pitch was “Microsoft track changes meets Google docs”. I named it WriteRack .
Because of my diluted grammar and proficiency in typos, I need(ed) a simple way to draft a blogpost and share it with people to help me proof read.it thout needing to download anything, they would make their edits on any device and then ”send it” back to me. I would then accept or reject suggested changes. It would be easier than the present “send as an attachment” method which makes it quite cumbersome for both the writer and the proofreader. I co opted a brilliant developer Seyi and we tried getting a proof of concept ready. As these things go, it never saw the light of day.
It remained at the back of my mind.
When a chap called Loren announced on HN that he was building PenFlip, a GitHub for writers, I got excited only to find out it had not launched. Somewhere in the comments though, I came across another attempt called Draft. Sadly, it was quite cumbersome and did not focus on proofreading so I abandoned it.
Today, while perambulating around one of BusinessInsider’s slide shows, I got to come across Poetica, the current project of Twitter’s first CTO, Blaine. It is a much better execution of what I had envisaged a couple of years earlier. The on boarding is absolutely stunning. I would love to have markdown formatting support at the moment though.
A screenshot of Poetica being used for this post
Being a proofreading app is great but there is something better.
I believe strongly that there is a huge opportunity of being both the marketplace and platform for proofreading.
How I thought and still think it should work is this
- Proofreaders register on the site and state their specialty, language and proofreading rate. They could pay a token sum monthly to be listed as a proof reader.
- Those in need of proofreading would then upload their text, go through the proof readers and invite a proof reader to their document.
- The proofreader accepts, money is taken from the writer and kept in escrow.
- Once the job’s done, money (less platform commission) is transferred to the proofreader and the proofreader is rated by the writer.
I think this is both useful and commercially viable. According to a random report I came across, the proofreading market size is quite big . However I do not really need external research to remember how much the Chinese students were willing to pay for proof readers while I was at Warwick. Of course this can be deployed in enterprise settings such as publishing houses, law firms and academic settings.
Of course this is all theory until it is put into practice.
Best of luck to the guys at Poetica and every other person tackling this problem.
PS: Dear Poetica overlords, my 3 invites are finished
Special thanks to Seyi (whom I attempted WriteRack with) and Zainab for helping me proofread using Poetica.
It always happens to the best of us. When you are are about to send that final important message, your Blackberry battery shuts down on you and goes
“Battery too low for radio use”
Actually, that is not entirely true. My good friend Sir Diddles showed me a bad ass trick. Once that message comes up, simply dial 911 and watch your battery come back to life for another 5 mins or so.
Yeah yeah.. thank me later.
Do you know any other interesting phone hacks? Don’t tell me *#06# o!
PS: You would notice that I could have explained all that in a Tweet and did not need 3 paragraphs. However I did so for 3 reasons.
- To use style and let everyone know once and forall I am using a BB. Yes, I am ashamed of myself.
- To jump-start my blogging again
- Because I can
I am just waking up after a very short sleep and I have a few minutes before preparing to attend The Future Awards Symposium. So this has to be brief and i hope it is as articulate I want it to be.
Here is the issue, I do not get Mobile Money as it is being attempted in Nigeria. The companies I have heard of seem to be more interested in in painting BRT buses and large billboards rather than being Mobile Money companies.
However, this post is not about my disappointment with the “Mobile Money” companies but rather an opportunity for them. Any real/serious Mobile Money company in Nigeria will salivate at this
Crowd funding and A grand opportunity.
Crowd funding is is one of the few killer applications that makes a business case for Mobile Money and there is a grand opportunity waiting to be taken.
There is a young man called Oke who needs some money to save his legs and his life. (If you get mind, here is the link to his story) The fact of the matter is the money he needs (N5million) can be raised in a single day if there was an easy way to send money to him. At the moment, Twitter is virtually saying “shut up and take my money”. But the true problem for the young man is HOW? The sad truth of the matter is this, 95% of the people absolutely willing to give 1000 or more will not because going to deposit money in a bank account is a really long thing. That is the absolute reality.
If only there was a way we could send money without the hassle of going to a bank, queuing, etc etc… Wait!! that is what the entire premise of Mobile Money is all about. This is the perfect opportunity to prove and show how this thing works! It is one thing to go back slapping yourselves at Mobile Money conferences around the world and claiming to be the next M-Pesa and another to actually do stuff.
What Serious Mobile Money companies should do NOW!
It is a no brainier for a Mobile Money company to provide matching funding for money raised for Oke through their platform. You will be committing bird genocide with a single stone (showing how/that your stuff really work, doing good, awesome PR, acquiring real users, jump starting the industry, having a very relevant case study, etcetc gbogbotigbo).
So MTN, Paga, VCash, PoketMoni, GLO, VTN, Airtel, what are you guys really waiting for. Are you guys real? Can you already grab this opportunity with both hands?
When CCHUB tried to raise money for a roofing project at the police barracks in Yaba, you guys failed, but the implication was a few wet mattresses. However, this time is someones life. Do the right thing for Oke and yourselves.
As part of my idea post series, I present to you what I think will be a killer app for the tablet.
A YouTube of how to cook anything.
The size and form factor of tablet computers make them an ideal kitchen companion. You can hang it on the wall or kitchen table and touch your life away.
How does this differ from Jamie Oliver’s cooking app?
When I started and abandoned this post almost a year ago (laziness is a bad thing), I had not heard of the Jamie Oliver app. But the main difference between this and a Jamie Oliver App will be the ability for anyone to learn from anyone. Because your mums pudding beats Jamie’s any day; that is the one I want to learn. So this like YouTube will be user generated. Of course the professionals will have their channels.
Why not just use YouTube?
There is something different about a curated community. Other than that, the interface will be built specially for this. Look at an initial mockup I designed below. Thirdly, elements like recipes will be entered in a data format that will allow for certain features. So for instance, people could just enter the recipes they have at home and a filter of all the meals that can be made from those recipes will be displayed. Yes, you will be able to sort it by time it takes to cook.
People have started something like this, why would this take off now?
The ubiquity of smart phones with video camera and the increasing availability of broadband coupled with the tablet form factor.
The million dollar question: how will this make money?
The size of the market is quite big almost everyone eats. Some revenue models I have thought of include:
Imagine clicking the picture of a meal you would like to eat and order all the ingredients you need from TESCO or Wal-Mart. Don’t worry, it does not need to be delivered but can be waiting for you at a local store. The stores will Pay Commission for it. Webvan
would have been the PERFECT intermediary but they were 10 years early.
Subscription: People could subscribe to premium Cooking Channels. Imagine you can access the same recipe that Oprah/Jamie Oliver is using for thanksgiving and it would cost 99p. His/Her followers will pay for it.
Advertising: Large food chains can have their branded channels where they show people how to cool meals using their special ingredients you buy from them: They will pay for it. I see companies like Sainsbury creating “the 5 pound family meal”
People will begin to see cooking as fun. Meals can be rated according to how healthy they are, cost, etc. Jamie Oliver’s TED talk, and push for healthy eating alongside Michelle Obama’s drive to make American children start eating healthy will give this good press.
Maybe this is another way for Jamie Oliver to achieve his dream
This type of application would probably need some initial capital if it is to come out of the gates blazing. Lots of meals made available; otherwise it can/should be created gradually. It would require a different type of media player that would enable people to jump to various sections of the video. Maybe YouTube editing capabilities can be used for the MVP? More importantly, this type of app will be all about the community. Where lovers of food can come and discuss and compare dishes.
If it is so good, why am I not doing this?
I love a lot more things than cooking. It will take someone dedicated to cooking to make this fly.
When I was studying in the UK, I starved because I could not get around with making any real (Nigerian) dishes with the ingredients I saw in the mall. I ate sandwiches for the first two weeks. I was saved by discovering the African market and tutorials from some friends. (Thanks Thelma, Mariam and Tobe.)
So if you want to work on this idea, let me know and I can volunteer a few minutes giving you more details of things that were too many to put in this post.
One more thing:
This idea actually has (in concept) 10 of Fred Wilson’s 10 Golden principles of successful web apps.
Here is the HN discussion