Influencer investing 🙋‍♀️, WFH perk ideas, opportunities in collectables & more...

Includes ideas from My First Million podcast episodes 135 & 136

Welcome to Everyday Startup, a weekly newsletter all about bootstrappable startup ideas and trends. We bring together ideas and strategies from all over the internet including My First Million podcast. 

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Weekly roundup of startup ideas & trends…

This edition of ideas include:

  • Developer library for spelling & grammar errors

  • Document preview tool for devs

  • Small scale private equity applied to SaaS businesses

  • Opportunities in collectibles

  • Invest in influencers like company stocks

  • Opportunities in Work From Home perks

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Developer library for spelling & grammar errors

(Source: My First Million #135 at 31:30)
According to Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra, there is not currently an automatic spell/grammar check library that developers could use to integrate in apps and software they create. “When you type I would love to be able to autocorrect errors in your typing in the same way the MacOS does natively,” Vohra explained.

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Document preview tool for devs

(Source: My First Million #135 at 33:00)
An API that would allow apps to display document previews. An example is the email app Superhuman. This would allow users of Superhuman to preview their attachment documents in their email drafts. Any enterprise tool/app out there that has to deal with files would make good use of this tool.

Rahul Vohra thinks there are currently three ways to do this:

  1. Upload the document to a Google Drive and then proceed download it as a PDF. The downside to this approach is it takes space and takes time.

  2. You can use Microsoft’s free libraries to do this but has a file limitation of 5 mb.

  3. Download a Java library from Box who acquired Croc Doc.

As far as Rahul thinks, there isn’t a great document preview library. Both Sam and Shaan like this idea.

The best pricing structure of a tool like this may be a pay-as-you-go model. You could sell this based on how many documents you preview or maybe the total file size.

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Small scale private equity applied to SaaS businesses

(Source: My First Million #135 at 41:20)
Not very much happens in the first 2-3 years of starting a SaaS business. Revenue is generally low and you spend a lot of time pulling together capital, people and building the actual SaaS product your making. A lot of companies make this journey but end up closing shop because they don’t know how to make to the next level.

If you can find these companies that have made it past this first stage and maybe making $10K to $100K per month and you spend anywhere from $500K to $10M to acquire these companies outright you can own all of them (apart from any funding you raise). You could then scale the companies to 10x and turn around and sell it for 10x what you paid for it.

There are maybe 5 or 6 small PE firms that do this type of thing including Constellation Software and Xenon Software.

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Opportunities in collectibles

(Source: My First Million #136 at 12:00)
The collectible market for all types of items such as player cards and watches is really taking off, in no small amount due to Gary Vaynerchuk’s promotion of the craft. How can we take advantage of this trend? First, let’s take a look at what’s out there…

Rally is a platform that allows users to invest in alternative assets. The company has raised roughly $30M. Think Michael Jordan rookie card, James Bond’s car, etc. So you can own a small fraction of a collectable which may appreciate in value. This allows investors with smaller capital amounts to participate in high value collector investing. When you buy a fraction of a collectible item, they will issue you a certificate you can hang on your wall to ‘prove’ to others you’ve got ownership in that collectable. Masterworks is similar but specific to fine art. Otis is a mix between Rally and Masterworks.

PWCC is the “The largest, most complete trading card marketplace in the world.” It also has a lending program that allows collectors to deposit their collections in the PWCC vault in exchange for a line of credit, typically 50% of the value of your collection. They do charge a high interest rate of around 10% per year and legally have custody of the collection in case of default.

Per the PWCC website, “Clients can take a loan against the conservative market value of their assets in their Vault. Average market value is determined through our in-house algorithm which leverages recent auction sale prices. We multiply the current market price by 0.8 to create the conservative market value and Capital will lend up to 50% of this amount.”

PWCC also offers “sellers up to 50% of the conservative market value of their assets in the form of a cash advance. “

Hodinkee sells special edition, high-end watches. Sam thinks they just sold a majority interest for $100 million to Louis Vuitton while doing $20 million in annual revenue. This is remarkable considering they started out blogging about specialty watches.

NBA Top Shot is a crypto based NFTs (non fungible token) collector “marketplace”. The blockchain allows the creation of NFTs which has scarcity built in. So NBA Top Shot partnered with the NBA and they licensed out NFT “moments” or highlights. “So you open up a pack,” Shaan explains “and instead of getting a player’s card you get a moment of LeBron James making an awesome move and there are only 400 of these “moments” in existence, for example. You can then trade these moments in the community. MFM podcast guest Jack Smith is bearish on NBA Top Shot because the company itself is claiming value of the moments rather than a trusted third party appraiser.

Dibbs is a marketplace to “Buy & Sell pieces of rare sports cards from your favorite athletes on the world’s first 24/7 market.” What Shaan likes about it is it makes collecting approachable. What you can do with Dibbs is buy into a person rather than just one item. So essentially there is an “ETF” style collection associated with that player you can buy into. So you don’t have to know about the details of a specific card and still participate.

Is there an opportunity in collectibles for entrepreneurs?
You may be successful in creating a platform geared to an under served collectible market like unique currencies or historical artifacts (like dinosaur bones or meteorites).

Another idea that came up in the podcast was creating a phone app that can automatically “grade” your collectible item. A more realistic idea for bootstrappers would be a service that allows users to upload a video/photo of their collector item and the company gets back to you at a later time with the estimated value. I would do it as a manual service where someone submits video/photos of the collectible and then you do the leg-work to get it graded by an official third party appraiser that includes a certificate. Starting in a niche collectible market would be a good way to start. The problem is it’s expensive to get items graded one-off. But you may be able to save on costs aggregating a bunch of users collectible videos/photos and send to the appraiser for a discount for grading all of them at once. Then you could charge users a monthly fee for the service.


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Invest in influencers like company stocks

(Source: My First Million episode #136 at 53:10)

There are always up-and-coming YouTube channels and social media influencers who end up banking due to sponsorships and other forms of revenue. What if you “invested” in one of these in exchange for a percentage of their future profits? You would likely need an Income Share Agreement to make this work.

Shaan says this is a compelling idea but argues you need to not only give (invest) the influencer money, but also help give them exposure in the same way Lambda School helps you get the job you are going to school for.

Shaan argues this idea is different than getting an agent because of the ability of high-profile investors / stars to promote the influencer. So if everyday people wanted to partake it may require a high profile investor / star (like Mr. Beast) to allow investment with them and then that high profile investor / star to promote the influencer to drive up the “stock price” of the influencer.

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Opportunities in Work From Home perks

(Source: Brainstorms.io)
More and more companies have begun offering in-office perks including on-site fitness studios, catered breakfast and lunch, all you can eat snacks, or working in a trendy office environment providing ergonomic office chairs and zero-noise phone booths. Let’s not forget about company happy hours.

Some companies even use these in-office perks as a hiring strategy. Employee roles have been created with the sole responsibility for coming up with and administering these perks to employees and making sure they are happy.

56% of companies in the US allow their employees to work remote and of those companies, 74% say they are going to shift more employees remote since the pandemic, according the a Gartner study. WFH is here to stay:

As more and more companies send their staff home to work, employees are missing out on the perks of working in the office.

How can you jump on the WFH perk trend?
1) What about non-perishable food or snack ideas you could ship? This could include weekly snack boxes or cocktail kits. Employees could make their own weekly snack box or cocktail kit online before each delivery.

2) A design service targeted to WFH employees that offers interior design & remodeling for employee’s home offices. This also benefits the company if employees background looks good on video calls. Maybe you can go to employers and see if they will help foot the bill for their employees?

3) A social/happy service that provides kits shipped to each employee that can be enjoyed over the company video chat together (like a virtual happy hour).

4) Make an app or website that makes it easy for companies to manage ordering employees lunches at once / all together.


Well that’s it for this week’s roundup of bootstrappable startup ideas and trends! Subscribe so you don’t miss the next one…