3 free business ideas

by Jonathan Brun

This is a follow-up to my last 7 free ideas, which you can read here. And the excellent discussion that happened on Hacker News.

Why give these ideas away? I have too many ideas and too little time. If anyone wants to take these and run with them, go for it! If you do, I would be keen to know how it goes.

1. Small claims website (class-action suits via the web)

Faulty products, misleading marketing and neighbourly complaints are all too frequent. Most people do not know their rights or how to defend them. Filling out government forms and filing in small claims court is very time consuming and unless the issue really caused harm, you are not likely to file.

There may be an opportunity to build a web platform where users could select a Product or Situation in their jurisdiction and the forms and filing procedures would be automatically populated. This is similar to the online incorporation or will creation websites.

Eventually, if many people file for the same thing (i.e. a faulty product), a class action suit could be taken up by a law firm. This idea is very rough but came about when a friend (who is a lawyer) described his situation. He had purchased  Kryptonite bike lock which is advertised as having “unbreakable bonds, blah blah” and he then promptly had his bike stolen.

He filed in small claims court for the replacement cost of his used bike (about 250$ and a lock 50$). As a plaintiff, it costs 70$ to file, to defend against an accusation, it costs 120$. He filed against two parties – the bike lock distributor and the store where he purchased it. As such, for them to defend, it will cost a total of 240$, make it likely that they will settle. Now, my friend is a lawyer and knows how to file these things and write scary letters, for the average individual, this task is to daunting. We could automate it with some pre-populated forms where users can “fill in the blanks”.

2. A Site for the Elderly

Old people like simple things! Think the Jitterbug telephone, but for the web. In a sense, the iPad is already doing this – but that market is still very small.

Someone could create a web browser homepage with a few basic links: Email, Photos, Telephone Numbers, Skype Video Calling and Other reminders. You could also have a system that allows them to enter their family members contact info and have automatic emails go out to them asking for a phone call, or to send photos, which can be pushed to the grandparent.

Huge market potential.

3. A Marketplace for students to do legal research

Basically like RentaCoder but specifically for law students. A lot of people have no idea where to start when it comes to legal issues, and law firms are very expensive. Even law firms are outsourcing their work to India. Many law students could use the extra cash, they just need a marketplace to connect with clients who want legal research (i.e. compile jurisprudence on a subject, find resources online, do a bit of digging), but the students would NOT give legal advice.

In the UK, they just passed a law (the Legal Services Bill, alternativly called the Tesco Law, see BBC article) allowing non legal firms to offer legal information, soon Tesco, Wal-Mart and other retailers will have a low-cost legal desk. Until then, an online legal service could be great (though it might be illegal in a number of jurisdictions).

Update: It seems someone already did this and even selcted the same domain as me, ha! http://www.rentalawstudent.com/