The Public Dataset Business Idea

Here’s a funny fact about me: I like to come up with business ideas. Some of them I play around with for a while, others I know are outside of my own league. Until now, I’ve never actually started a business, though I’ve started (and abandoned) a number of themed websites.

Recently, I had a couple of good business ideas. One I might play with on my own, the other I’m happy to share with anyone who is looking for a project to play with.

The idea is to create a freely available dataset made up of a huge collection of survey data. Without looking into the feasibility of this, the idea is that people could take surveys on a website or via an app (and either get email invites or notifications via the app to try some more questions). Ideally, people would be motivated to take part in the project because it’s easy to do and it’s nice to think that you’re somehow ‘furthering knowledge.’ Additionally, there could be prizes or rewards provided (perhaps you’re entered to win something, or, if you’re in an important target demographic, you’re bribed outright.)

The business would make money by selling people and organization the possibility of including questions.

Do you want to know if people who own an xbox also play games on android phones? Pay x amount to have the survey include at least ten thousand participants with xboxes and their responses to the android phone question.

Are you a psychology student who wants to know if people who have watched a violent movie in the last 24 hours are more or less likely to brainstorm ‘empathetic’ keywords when they’re presented with an image? There will be an equation to figure that out, and the survey platform will ask enough people whether or not they’ve seen a violent movie in the last 24 hours to get enough responses to the second question.

I like the idea, because I’m a fan of public datasets. And because I think that people would be motivated to take part in a project knowing that the dataset would eventually be public.

I’m not going to pursue the project because the mathematics end of it is far beyond my own abilities and so I’m setting the idea free into the world. It’s yours if you want it.

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