Automatic Query Runner + Notifier


Automatic Query Runner (and notifier): the last few places I’ve worked wanted this…product managers want to have their own way of ensuring a system is running and they want to control what queries are run and when.  When there is an outage or certain events happen in production product managers want to know first and they don’t want to wait on IT to make reports, etc for them.

Why not somehow control the quality of their queries, but let them decide what they want?

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Customers (finding customer problems)

“Business ideas” are worthless unless they solve a problem.  I guess you could also be entertaining your customers, but even that is solving a problem.  Either way, you need to find enough people to help so you can get paid enough to stay in business.


Think you can start a business without fixing something for a client?


The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.

Peter Drucker



A good business is really just a solution to someone’s problem. So, a “business ideas” should be a solution.  For B-B solutions, you should first choose an industry you are excited about serving.  Then, narrow that industry to a group of similar businesses.  I’d suggest using to find businesses within your criteria.

Next,  you’re going to email a good number of those business owners,  offering to identify their pains.

  • Dane Maxwell, one of his students, started asking, “What do you do with Excel that you would like to be an app?” The guy with “clinic metrics”
  • Tell me about your job, what is the hardest or most painful part of your job?
  • REA’s – got to open houses to ask tons of agents, EASILY!
    • Ask people in your life what they want

Overall Dane Maxwell Steps:
  1. Idea Extraction, what is your pain in your business? what do you use excel for? understand the customer better than anyone else
  2. Fictional Prototype “info pack” of screenshots…validate and further understand with client
  3. Presell 5-15 customers with that idea…would they pay for this set of screenshots if it were a product
  4. Build it (absolutely not until after it is presold to many customers)
  5. Scale it


Add link to category, “Startup Idea Sources”

Other articles in this series:

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Yourself (solve your problems)

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Customers (finding customer problems) – The Best?

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask History (after solving customer problems)

How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Other Startups (during solving customer problems)

Time Tracking For Remote Teams –


This product is a cross between time-tracking and employee-monitoring software.  The owner started the company out of his own pains of not knowing what his remote team members were doing during the day.  He could give them assignments and off they would go, but from day to day, he didn’t know if they were off-track, doing nothing, or making huge progress.

Main Features

  • Tracks team members by hours logged into computer
  • Takes random screenshots of workers
  • Records application usage of workers
  • Hourly time tracking / time entry
  • Automatic payroll integrates with payment service

Current Revenue: $30K per month and growing

Current Profit: ?

Pricing: Free, $5, and $9 per month per user

Source: – Please go see Dane over at The Foundation, he rocks.

Entrepreneur: Dave Nevogt

  • David has years of experience starting with offering a 20-page golfing instruction eBook sold on Clickbank.
  • Before his eBook sales, he was an employee trying to escape cubicles.

Quick Analysis

I see tons of competitors for this business, which is good and bad.  It is great that there is so much demand overall and demand for a large variety of features.  The customer he is chasing, entrepreneurs who are working with remote employees, is large enough, but could easily be expanded into larger companies with any number remote (or in-house) workers in the long run.  Copiers of this idea could find many related niches in time-tracking and/or employee-monitoring.

Will this business live through the next 10 years?

Time tracking is bound to be disrupted more and more by automatic tracking systems in the next 10 years.  Sensor and hardware advances will definitely change employee-monitoring as we know it.  This is a business that will have to innovate and re-invent itself faster than average, but it is obviously poised to make good money in the short term as is.

What won’t change in the next 10 years about this business?

The need to track remote workers, both for keeping them honest and for understanding what they do, will not go away, regardless of technology advances.


Hidden potential exists in you for creating great things that will improve the world.  This potential is just waiting to come alive in almost-entrepreneurs.  
People all around your city want to do startups.  But they don’t ever really get started because they lack money… lack time… lack confidence… lack knowledge…etc.  We need to dig deeper to unlock the ocean of entrepreneur spirit that lies trapped below our reasons, our stories, and our excuses.
Removing even just one small road block can push you over the edge into making it big in your own business.  This blog is dedicated to these “almost-entrepreneurs”.


How to Get Startup Ideas – Ask Twitter

Update: A project started up around this idea now…

With the right search query, you can discover what apps people are asking for in real time!  Try searching Twitter for “make an app” as in “I wish someone would ‘make an app’ to make me breakfast in bed!”  Here is that query making it’s magic:

You’ll get a lot of noise too, but why not use this as a fun way to see what people are wanting?  Here’s another good one:

So, like Gary Vaynerchuk says, “It (Twitter) closes the six degrees of separation to one degree of separation”.

Why Startups?

When I go to a startup conference, I see doers.

I’m an Atlas Shrugged fan solely because I’m huge fan of personal responsibility. I believe there is a time and place for handouts, for giving, for helping those in need, but we are handing out too often compared to a century ago. Parents, governments, corporations….all of em.

I love to see the sparkle in smiles of people excited about building something new that might change the world. I live to see people pouring their hearts into finding new ways of serving people.

Around the time of the American Revolution, most people were farmers, many who had risked it all to come to America to start their own thing, to be doers. There was no government, there was no safety net. And yet, they came on their own and started doing on there own, started providing for others with whatever skills and energy they could provide.

Along the way, over the next few hundred years, as most societies do, we got lazy. We had kids who weren’t self selecting to work hard and take risks. We had a mix of workers, lazy and ambitious. In time, though, the number of play-it-safers outnumbered the risk-doers. And over more time, the percentage of lazies got higher.

Ambition that makes world-wide improvement possible, appears to be crumbling and it scares me. It’s time to continue the Revolution, continue starting a new country (or world), continue taking risks and working hard to make the world a better place.

When I go to a startup conference, I see doers. And it excites me.

Your “passion” is holding you back

Follow your passion and you’ll make millions. This makes sense and it works in many cases. The problem is that it causes people to try version after version of their passion until they can get paid enough from it to survive. The average person gives up before before then. When we focus on ourselves and what we’d like to provide we are missing a critical element of successful business:

To satisfy the customer is the mission and the purpose of every business. – Peter Drucker

Satisfy whom? If you are focusing on YOUR passion and what YOU want to provide to the world, you will eventually be successful. It might take 100 attempts of applying your passion in different ways, but eventually you will succeed in creating a profitable business. But, not until you stumble across a version of your passion that provides to a critical number of customers what THEY want.

Focus too much on what YOU want to give and people may or may not want it.  Focus on what people want first, and then determine how you can passionately give it to them.  Increase your odds of success exponentially.  – Me, lol

I love listening to interviews with Dane Maxwell about this. He bases his whole business on this very idea and has tons of success stories because of it. He suggests that you take it a step further and determine a group of people or market that you want to serve and then go find the problems to solve in that market.

Lastly, your passion is likely going to change. Over time you have personality tendencies and enduring strengths, but what you are passionate about working on today, can change by next month! The more successful you are with this month’s passion, the longer you’ll stick with it. But, when you don’t see results for a long time regardless of the reasons…you aren’t so passionate about that idea anymore are you? By focusing first on customer pain, you will get base hits, rather than striking out 100 times to with hopes of a home run. Get good at making those singles and you’ll stay passionate to pursue the home runs.

So overall:

  1. Determine which markets and customers you can passionately serve regardless of what the problems are you’ll solve
  2. Find people in those markets to tell you what pain they need relieved (ask, listen, understand, repeat)
  3. Rank those problems based on how painful they are for customers (most painful problems pay the best)
  4. Pick small problems you can be passionate about solving long enough to get successfully profitable

And as @tonyrobbins says, “Live with Passion!”

Paul Graham, Required Reading

As an almost-startup founder, wouldn’t be nice to meet a hero who over the last 8 years:

  1. Helped individually 1,500 startup founders over the last 7 years in Silicon Valley.
  2. Incubated startups like AirBnB, Heroku, Reddit, Wufoo, and Dropbox!
  3. Invested a shared $8 million in these startups, overall.
  4. Has a portfolio worth almost $10 Billion of these startups, now.
  5. And is still going strong looking for more founders.

Further, what if he wrote letters to you offering advice and what he would look for in startups?  Oh, and it’s free!

Of course, Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-Combinator, is who we’re talking about.  For some reason, he writes “essays” to the public with his ideas and requests regarding startups.

In some essays he requests certain types of startup founders to contact them.  He has many articles regarding “How to Get Startup Ideas,” (my favorite).

So, the point is, here is this dude with practically infinite access to successful startups…giving out free advice on startups…so if you are into startups, this list of essays is required reading.

PS: If you are looking for a good list of companies they’ve worked with check this out:


$1 Billion Startup “Unicorns”

Assuming the landscape of startups is like watching wildlife, this article via TechCrunch peers into the lives one of the rarest animals, the unicorn.  Check out “Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups, Aileen Lee” (see the article on TechCrunch).

Quotes I liked most:

Swing for the Fences?

“Takeaway: it’s really hard, and highly unlikely, to build or invest in a billion dollar company. The tech news may make it seem like there’s a winner being born every minute.”  So, David Heinemeier Hansson was right,

“I think we’d be better off with less of a focus on [swinging for the fence] and more of a focus on practical solutions to less grandiose problems.” [1]

Market to Businesses or Consumers?

“Consumer-oriented unicorns have been more plentiful and created more value in aggregate, even excluding Facebook.”

“Companies fall somewhat evenly into four major business models: consumer e-commerce, consumer audience, software-as-a-service, and enterprise software.”

Get Rich Quick?

“It has taken seven-plus years on average before a “liquidity event” for companies, not including the third of our list that is still private. It’s a long journey beyond vesting periods.”

Founders by Age, Location, Gender

“Inexperienced, twentysomething founders were an outlier. Companies with well-educated, thirtysomething co-founders who have history together have built the most successes.”

“Probably not a surprise, but 27 of 39 on our list are based in the Bay Area.”

“No unicorns have female founding CEOs.”