Compliance as a Service, Website Agency for Celebrities, Insider Trading Alert Service...

Ideas recap from My First Million podcast episode #114 with Steph Smith & other ideas and strategies...

Hey guys! I’m switching up the format of this newsletter. Don’t worry…I’ll still be recapping all the startup ideas from My First Million podcast. But additionally, each week I’ll be curating other quality startup ideas and strategies that will benefit your startup journey wherever you find yourself. I’ll focus mostly on non-venture backed ideas that require no or little money down to start…I call it “Everyday Startups” (shocking, eh?).

If you guys like or do NOT like this new format, help me out and reply to this email and let me know! :)


It’s September 26, 2020 and you’re only one idea away…

Codie Sanchez of Contrarian Thinking newsletter released a great letter on 29 (or is it 28?) passive income ideas that any hustler could handle. She believes we should all diversify our income, just like we do with our stock portfolio.

She knows her shit as she recently grew her letter at lightning speed from 0 to 10,000 subscribers in only 30 days, has nine sources of income, and a partner at a VC firm. Sheesh!

Before I share some of the ideas that stuck out to me, I’d like to give one of my top pieces of startup advice (based on experience):

Too many people create a product and then try and find an audience to sell it to. Instead, first find an audience, ask them what they want, and give it to them.

This rule alone can save you countless amounts of time, dollars, and anxiety (I learned from experience)!

So, here’s some of Codie’s ideas:

MAKE A GUIDE OR COURSE AND SELL IT: Are you an expert at anything? Maybe you use a tool or app at work to get your jobs done and are actually pretty darn good at it. Perhaps you could create a guide on how a certain sector can utilize the tool better. Instead of going broad, go narrow. For example, I wrote a guide/course on using the project management software Asana specifically tailored for running a manufacturing business. Do you know apps that you could teach people to use for certain industries / tasks?

You can sell your guide on Gumroad or publish an online course on Udemy.

And if that is successful, repurpose your guide/course into a book…

WRITE A BOOK: Turn your guide or course into a book and sell it on Amazon. Then you can magically call yourself a published author and get some more credibility. Codie puts this under the model of “create something once, and sell it over and over again.”

BUY A PROFITABLE BUSINESS: Sometimes you need to skip the line and get some cash flow ASAP. Often overlooked in the startup and especially the side hustle crowd is acquiring a business. Acquiring a business you say?! Doesn’t that need a lot of funding? Nope. Oftentimes you can negotiate the seller to finance the sale which you pay for with profits from the company itself (again, I have experience with this as well). Other times you can get an SBA loan with very little money down (although this option may be tougher in the times of COVID).

And don’t let pride get in your way. Just because you aren’t the founder doesn’t mean you can’t do great things. For example, I eventually took over my family’s flailing sensor technology business and grew it from six figures to eight figures and recently sold it at nearly 6x EBITDA (basically, 6x all profits including adding back expenses that the buyer won’t have when they run the biz).

Where can you find these businesses for sale? The best way is to find one that’s not listed for sale, make contact with the owner. It’s a hustle. Convince them to sell to you. Or you can look at listing companies like Quiet Light Brokerage or Flippa which lists online businesses for sale—including blogs, newsletters, and e-commerce businesses.

START A NEWSLETTER: Sam and Shaan discussed this one on a podcast episode. Basically, their idea is to pick a hobby you love and spend too much time on, turn it into a newsletter and market it to enthusiasts.

The Ferrari Market Letter has 5,000 subscribers and does $2M in revenue with a team of just two people. Fans pay $100 to $200 per month for online or print access. They make a $1M on member-to-member classified revenue. The balance of revenue is made on advertising.

I plan on dedicating a whole issue on starting and growing a newsletter, so stay tuned…

CONSULT FOR OTHERS: Here again you need to figure out something that you know more about than others. You don’t need to know more than everyone, just more than the people you are selling to!

Chances are you are an expert at something you do at your day job. If it’s a skill people need, oftentimes people will pay for it. I would suggest starting out by offering your skills / services on Fiverr or Upwork. Once you get some traction and reviews, start targeting specific companies that may need your skills. As a business owner, I outsource work to consultants or contractors whenever I can since it typically ends up being way cheaper than hiring someone.


Startup ideas recap from My First Million podcast episode #114

My First Million recap of episode #114 with digital nomad Steph Smith with time stamps and links for your viewing pleasure!

4:00 There is an opportunity to satisfy the “fringe benefits” companies normally give employees at office but adapted for Work From Home employees

  • Companies often give free lunches, entertainment, beverages, etc at offices. However, how is this accomplished now that many WFH?

  • This gives companies an edge for recruitment and employee retention

  • Niche ideas are the best to target for this

  • Some companies that are identifying all new types of benefits remote companies can give employees: Hoppier, June.io [?], Compt.io

  • Some ideas include: a stipend for Upwork so employees don’t have to do mundane work, wine/beer subscriptions, home cleaning service, pay for utilities. What are things that would normally be paid for at the office that can be paid to people who are WFH…

  • 8:05 keyvalues.io

  • Shaan argues there are actually two types of perks, “productivity perks” that help people be more efficient and “retention perks” which are more like beer/wine subscriptions, etc. There’s also “recruiting perks” that say something about the company that make the employee feel aligned with the company at the core (like what Key Values does)

  • Giving unlimited Amazon books is one Sam thinks is really popular

  • Sam also says paying for anything educational for his employees under $5,000

16:30 Most interesting “one person businesses” (no employees needed) Steph, Shaan, and Sam contribute to this list:

  • Peter Levels kickstarted a revolution where he started 12 startups in 12 months. He started with Nomad List which was simply a spreadsheet he posted on Hacker News listing places for digital nomads to go and work from and other projects.

  • Joe Rogan is a good example of a one person business media enterprise via a Podcast. Also Ben Thompson from Stratechery newsletter.

  • Shaan mentioned the two guys from Wait But Why blog who are killing it. They buy businesses that are profitable and talk about it on their show and blog.

  • Sam mentioned Matt Drudge of Drudge Report who gets hundreds of millions of page views per month. BuzzFeed has Drudge Report making $30M per month in ad revenue. It’s a news aggregator that used to lean conservative but over the last 12 months or so has noticeably turned left leaning.

24:00 A website agency focused solely on creating celebrity websites

  • Celebrities have their own digital space but most of the time they focus on social media networks and platforms and big deals like with Spotify.

  • They would benefit greatly from owning their own space on the web that they can control and even monetize perhaps similar to Kylie Jenner who started the makeup line, etc

  • If they do have their own website they are notoriously BAD. Examples include Drake, Roger Federer, David Copperfield, and more. Many more don’t even have a website if you look them up and try to find them.

  • These guys have so much money but choose social network platforms instead.

  • Steph stumbled upon a list of Cameo’s highest earners. Cameo is a platform where you can get personalized messages from your favorite celebrities. Steph would contact every one of these and sell them on building them their own celebrity website. You can say, I’ll do it for free but in exchange just want a few percentage off the sales you make from the website.

  • Shaan would start out ‘permissionless’. Shaan would monetize via Ad Sense or create a text list that the celebrity can use to sell products and you get a revenue share of all proceeds.

  • Sam would just have an email capture form on the websites and build a list that can be used later to sell.

30:25 HIPAA and/or other compliance stuff as a service.

  • HIPAA is a healthcare privacy law to keep patience records private. All medical records must comply but many companies don’t know how.

  • You could hire a couple of lawyers and track which legislation is about to become a law, and then you are the first mover to offer compliance services to companies.

  • Shaan has seen some companies do this for HIPAA already.

  • GDPR compliance is another

35:40 Subreddit trends

  • Steph likes a reddit search tool called Anvaka.

  • We all know about subreddit stats tools like Subreddit Stats that shows which subreddits have X number of people or which key words are trending

  • Enter any subreddit into this On Vaca tool like “r/digitalnomad” and spits out a mind map of associations based on popularity. It shows you all the nodes that are related to the subreddit you enter.

  • If you enter r/longevity you find related stuff like microbiome, nootropics, transhumanism, singularity. Then you can click on one of these and dig deeper.

  • This tool can help you understand your audience and user.

40:40 A site called FinViz that tracks all insider trading. Use this data to create an alert service about your favorite companies you are looking to invest

  • If you are an executive, you must by law report stock market trades above a certain level

  • If someone took this info and make an insider trade alert service

  • You could create an alert for a certain companies like Cloud Flare. If at any point an insider makes a trade, you would get alerted.

45:40 Technology that predicts and tracks wildfires

  • Gen Z mafia who have a Discord that build stuff

  • Someone in the Discord reached out to Sam. His website is fion.tech “detect wildfires before they start and stop them before they spread.”

Hope you enjoyed this weeks letter everyone. Have a great weekend!

-Wes Kimbell

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