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Instead Startup Ideas

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The founders of this startup are trying to create a new kind of credit card that can be used across multiple merchants, instead of different cards for different merchants.

141

A credit card for the underbanked. It eschews traditional bank systems and instead relies on direct deposit.

108

A startup that’s building a business platform for people who want to monetize their own social media content and make money instead of just getting paid to post it.

101

A startup that promises to be the next Uber for the taxi industry. Instead of incentivizing drivers by paying them directly, they’ll pay the driver’s customer base.

95

A mobile app that helps a person use a credit card that does not have a magnetic stripe. Instead, it uses a special card reader that reads the information on the card, and sends it to the app.

94

A new type of restaurant that delivers meals, but instead of ordering food online, you get to pick it up at a store. The app will be available in the next few months.

94

A new kind of payment system that allows taxi owners to compete with Uber and Lyft. Instead of needing to call a dispatcher, riders can hail a cab in real-time and pay directly through the app.

93

A platform for pharmaceuticals that wants to be the Uber for drug distribution. Instead of having to find a distributor, the startup wants to connect patients directly with pharmacies that can provide them with medicines.

92

A startup that wants to make it easier for businesses to build their own online store. Instead of a lengthy process of building an e-commerce site themselves, the startup will make it easy for a business to buy in to a pre-built site.

92

A new way for companies to pay employees, using a rewards-based system with no cash transfers. The company instead creates a digital savings account for employees, allowing them to track their earnings and also cashing out the money when they leave.

92

Slack is a project management and chat platform for teams and groups. Slack builds software as a service (SaaS) products, which are web-based applications that companies or organizations can use instead of having to install or maintain software on their own computer.

89

A startup that wants to help businesses create video marketing content inside of a Slack channel instead of a separate app or website.

88

A startup that wants to bring a similar UI to the world of online banking, except that instead of generic banks, the startup offers a wide array of financial products.

88

A startup that wants to solve the “capital management” problem for enterprise software startups. Instead of companies managing all of their own financial resources, they plan to provide a service that helps startups manage their capital, paying for those resources as needed.

85

A remote-work solution for business partners and freelancers, letting them work from anywhere. It’s a sort of “Uber for freelancers”, and is based on the idea that most clients don’t want to hire someone for a long-term gig, but instead need someone to tackle a project for a few days or a week at a time.

84

A company that helps online retailers “persuade” a customer to buy from them instead of their competitors. It uses algorithms to determine where the customer is in the buying cycle, and tailors a message to the customer so that they’ll click through to their website.

83

A startup that wants to take the friction out of the process of purchasing a home. Instead of going through a bank, you can do all the paperwork online.

83

A startup that wants to build a “pay it forward” model, where people volunteer to pay for others’ purchases in the name of “paying it forward”. It’s a bit like the Amazon Dash, but with the automatic donation of the $5 to the cashier instead of the Amazon account.

81

In theory, this company can help retailers build better loyalty programs for their customers. Instead of rewarding customers with discounts and other perks, this startup says it can help retailers build loyalty programs that allow customers to earn rewards and discounts based on how often they visit the store.

81

Unbounce isn’t selling directly to customers, but instead to small agencies and marketers that want to hire them to do their advertising.

80

A software tool that lets companies own and manage the cloud infrastructure they buy, instead of relying on vendors.

79

A tool for software designers to create new apps in minutes instead of days.

79

It’s a “smart” alarm clock that can only be used once, so it only has to wake up once. The company also has a “smart” alarm clock that can only be used once, but it also has a mute button. The company also has another alarm clock that can be used instead.

78

A startup that is building a platform for mobile phone companies and carriers to provide their services on the open web and in mobile applications, instead of requiring people to download an app.

78

A tool to help people use their spare screen space for apps, instead of always having to share with a partner or family member.

78

This startup is building a way to help farmers market their products without the hassle of selling via a big, impersonal store. Instead, farmers can have a more intimate and less expensive selling experience when selling directly to the consumer.

75

A new way to book travel. Instead of booking a flight, the travel planning app lets users plan their trip route and pick the times they want to travel.

75

A tool for tracking and analyzing an employee’s travel (could be useful for HR to track which employees are spending all their time flying somewhere instead of working).

75

A startup that gives away stock instead of cash to startups when they want to accelerate their growth.

73

A “digital concierge” that helps users personalize their own homes. Instead of searching around for different products, users can ask their digital concierge to come up with ideas and send them to the user.

73

The company operates in a similar fashion to Uber, but instead of driving people around, it takes shoppers to retailers. Shoppers use the app to locate stores and their location, then use the app to walk into shops and purchase items.

72

A hardware startup that’s building a way for software to run on physical products, such as a keyboard or a mouse, instead of being software-only. The startup wants to create a device that can connect to a computer and transform a physical object into a fully-functional computer.

70

A startup that uses text messaging to help people who are sick or at risk of infection simply call in and connect with a nurse or other professional for a chat, instead of having to go to the doctor’s office.

69

This company is building a chat-based social network for enthusiasts that aims to allow users to share their experiences and advice with each other, like Reddit or Quora. It’s a spin on the social media platform idea: instead of frequent posts from celebrities, the goal is to get your friends to post about their experiences and thoughts.

68

A white-label company that sells customer data to insurance companies, but the startup says the data it offers is less than what a company buying data from a broker would pay for. Instead of buying a person’s data from a broker, Vitality starts with a person’s data from 3rd party sources and helps them create a profile.

68

A distributed team management system that moves employees to a new team instead of firing them.

67

A startup that helps you create customized “sampler packs” of music. The startup wants to build an algorithm that lets users produce personalized mixes, or albums, without the need to upload music. Instead, users create a “profile” of songs and artists they like, and the system then chooses other songs the user likes and creates an album, including tracklists. The service is currently free, with plans starting at $5 per month for premium features.

66

The startup is building a service that they describe as “the Uber of air travel”. It replaces the “front-end” that users deal with when they book a flight and instead of a travel agent, will connect them directly with an itinerary.

66

This is an alternative to the standard subscription model for software. Instead of buying software and only using it, it allows companies to buy access to the software for a set number of uses over a year, and then the software is deactivated once the period is up.

64

A tool to make choosing a car insurance a little easier. Instead of filling out forms, traditional agents have a choice to make a few basic questions.

63

A crowdfunding website with a different twist. Currently popular in the UK, the platform allows users to use online loans for funding instead of just credit cards.

61

A startup for freelance writers, editors, and translators. The startup is in its pre-launch phase, but has already sold $3,000 worth of services. It’s not a traditional marketplace, instead relying on a closed community of writers and translators who are all working on the same project.

58

A credit card that rewards its customers for giving back to the community. Instead of paying a flat fee for the credit card, customers are charged based on the number of points they earn for charitable donations.

57

A mobile app that focuses on the experience of the user, instead of the device.

55

A startup that helps businesses market to high school students, instead of relying on the university market.

53

Some of the ideas listed in this section are not considered to be ideas per se but instead products in development.

50

 A funding platform where a company can take a “drip” approach to fundraising, instead of a full-on “spray”. It allows a company to get funding without all the hassle of pitching, negotiating, and offering equity, while still getting the full equity portion.

48

A new way to book tickets online. Instead of booking through a travel agency or airline, the startup plans to make it easy to book and pay for your tickets through the app.

46

A company that makes an app for ride sharing that gives riders pay-per-mile pricing instead of the traditional per-mile pricing.

44

Y Combinator is not a startup accelerator in the traditional sense, as it does not provide capital, mentorship, or other startup-specific services. Instead, Y Combinator provides seed funding and office space for startups that have already been bootstrapped for over a year and a half. Y Combinator has five cohorts a year, each of which lasts for 14 weeks. Participants are required to pay for their own flights and housing, which are taken care of by Y Combinator.

39

This startup is building an app that enables workers to schedule tasks via a mobile app instead of an email. They’re currently working on a version for freelance workers, but they’ve also written a book on how to run your business without a web presence.

37

A tool that helps users create their own custom-built fonts with the company’s custom font editor. The startup aims to remove the need to have a designer build fonts for an application or website by allowing users to build their own instead.

36

A peer-to-peer marketplace and online marketplace for exclusively selling used goods. The company wants to bring a new way to buy and sell things, but it’s not quite a marketplace. Instead, it’s a service that connects buyers with sellers, and a platform where sellers can share their goods.

33

This startup is building software for businesses to keep track of their expensive items, which they can then take to their local jeweler instead of paying a check out fee. They also plan to expand to offer an app that allows customers to track the location of their purchases, so they can get a full refund if the item is lost or stolen.

31

A new way of paying artists, based on a kind of marketplace model. The major difference is that the company doesn’t take any commission from the artists. The startup instead takes a 30% cut as a fee for the use of the platform.

30

Instead of having to manually create and manage your own social media pages, this startup is building a single platform for all your different social media accounts.

30

A startup for freelancers to sell their services. It’s a bit like Upwork, but instead of freelancers posting projects, it’s employers hiring freelancers.

29

A financial app for students that helps colleges accept payments directly from a student’s bank account, instead of charging fees or taking checks.

29

This mobile payments company is building the technology that allows companies to collect payments on their apps through Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or other mobile payment options, instead of sending out checks or cash.

27

A way of paying for services with cryptocurrency instead of fiat.

26

It’s similar to an Instagram filter app, but instead of changing your appearance, it changes the tone of your photos.

24

A startup that provides a platform for companies to pay employees via a monthly subscription instead of a one-time salary.

24

A startup that wants to reverse the trend of technology companies closing manufacturing facilities in the US, and instead bring manufacturing back to the US.

21

A company that makes a product called “Flex”, a flexible structural material that can be used to build buildings instead of using steel beams.

20

A new kind of online marketplace for buying and selling used cars. Instead of going to a dealer, it's a platform where people can bid on cars and sellers can list them on the site.

20

A cloud-based scheduling system for medical offices. The startup wants to take over scheduling for doctors, with a platform that lets doctors manage their schedules by path instead of by time.

19

A startup that wants to deliver service-oriented photo printing. Instead of printing, they are printing 3D models or scans of objects you’ve shot with your phone.

18

A company that uses AI to detect when someone is using the internet to pay for things with their credit cards. They’re currently in the pilot phase and plan to use the results to help other companies get customers to sign up for their products instead of stealing their data.

18

A new way of making yogurt. Instead of a starter culture, they grow the yogurt with probiotics.

18

A startup that allows users to “pay” with their face instead of their phone number.

16

A startup that helps businesses sell on Amazon. Instead of having to set up an Amazon seller’s account, the startup takes care of the legal, accounting, and shipping details.

16

A company that makes clothes that are made from yarn instead of cotton to help save the environment.

16

A startup that aims to make it easier for small business owners to have a storefront presence on the internet. Instead of opening a website the company works with businesses to have a simple storefront integrated into their existing business.

15

A home Wi-Fi router with an app to manage it. The startup wants to provide a way to manage home routers with an app instead of the current manual process.

15

This startup is building a tool for talent acquisition. Instead of being on the phone with call centers, an employee can upload their resume, answer a few questions, and be matched with a hiring manager.

15

A company that makes a tool to help companies get their payroll done faster. The platform is based on the idea of a traditional monthly payroll cycle, but instead of hiring a payroll company to handle things, companies can outsource it to a company like Payroll Master, which runs the payroll for them for a monthly fee.

14

This company offers a service that helps businesses skip the expensive installation and setup work of virtualization and server management, and instead offer managed service options.

14

A startup that wants to move from the “iPhone to the iPhone”. Instead of building apps for the iPhone itself, they’re building specialized apps for all of the things you can do with an iPhone. For example, they recently launched an app that lets you control your Nest thermostat with your iPhone and use it as a webcam.

14

A company that makes a product called a “pill stop” which is a pill dispenser for people with bad backs, designed to make it easier to take pills by placing them in a container instead of a cup.

13

A startup that helps businesses automate the process of reaching out to customers and prospects. Instead of using a “cold call”, which is risky and has a 50% failure rate, companies use a “warm call” that is more successful and costs less.

13

A new way of paying for groceries. Instead of swiping a credit card, shoppers use their phones to scan a QR code for payment and a receipt.

13

A tool for crowdfunding on the blockchain, where the funds are held in a wallet, instead of a bank or payment processor, and can be transferred to multiple investors.

12

A cloud-based platform that allows families and businesses to forgo forking over large sums of money on software subscriptions and instead just pay for the software they use.

12

A health insurance startup that is building a fraud detection platform. The company is building a fraud detection engine that will alert customers if their account is being fraudulently accessed, instead of the fraud being detected by fraud detection systems in the insurance company.

12

This startup wants to make Snapchat contacts more useful. Instead of just sending a snap to a contact, you can send them a message and have them view it.

11

Our team is trying to disrupt the world of product development by creating a platform that allows startups to focus on great product ideas instead of building the product itself.

7

A startup for the hiring of independent contractors, who are currently forced to pay 70% of the FICA tax to the federal government. The startup wants to eliminate the tax on independent contractors, and instead pay the tax to the state.

7

This is a startup that allows companies to set up and manage their own online campaigns. Instead of creating an ad and selling it to an agency, you can create a campaign and sell it to a customer.

6

A startup that’s working on an alternative to the taxi app. Instead of calling a car to come pick you up, you call your car. The startup is working on an app that lets you call the car using a phone app, rather than having to use your phone.

6

helps companies “explore the digital possibilities” of their products and services. Instead of helping businesses discover new markets, the startup wants to help them find new products to sell.

2

A startup that provides a service where people can book a room to stay in for a night like AirBnb but instead of an entire house it’s just a room

-1

A startup that creates a service for helping people with their resume The startup helps people get their resume on the top of the pile instead of the bottom

-1

Idea: A new consumer-focused mobile payments app to replace credit cards The company aims to reduce friction by letting users buy things with their phone instead of having to pull out their wallet They want to replace everyone’s credit card information The startup has processed over $1MM in payments

-1

Idea: A mobile game that runs in-browser for the browser-based game streaming service The startup basically wants to make a mobile game but instead of building a native iOS or Android app, it can run inside the browser and be streamed to a phone

-1

Idea: This is a real estate startup that wants to help people find homes to rent. They’re looking to target people who’ve been priced out of the market and need to rent instead of buy. The startup’s pitch is that it’s better than Craigslist because it focuses on neighborhoods and can recommend specific apartments.

-1

A startup that allows you to transfer funds from a card (like a credit card or bank card) to a bank account using an API (application programming interface) instead of a physical card

-2

Idea: A new way to order a steak. Instead of receiving an entire side of beef, customers can order individual cuts to their specifications.

-2