The Amateur Entrepreneur

I’ve decided to combine several ideas under a single heading: “The amateur entrepreneur.” It should summarize the idea that 1) I don’t want to pretend to know what I’m doing, 2) I believe entrepreneurship is — like everything else — something that can be learned, 3) that it’s something I’d like to one day be good at.

Maker vs Entrepreneur

There was a time when I aspired to the title ‘maker’ (I still aspire to the title finisher). I romanticized — and continue to romanticize — people who can create (seemingly from nothing) the things they think up.

I think I’m good at thinking up. I’m constantly coming up with ideas that would be great, and I’ll talk them out with students and often they’ll end with “I think you have a good business case.”

But, seldom do I actually even start work on the things I’m interested in (have a look at my projects page). And, when I do, I have yet to declare anything finished.

maker, I think, would have stuff finished by now.

An entrepreneur is a level above a maker. An entrepreneur in my usage is someone who can not only make the things he or she thinks up, but fit them into a structure — whether social, or economic, or whatever — such that they serve a purpose and are adopted.

A maker makes. An entrepreneur makes meaning.

The short-term plan

I’ll write about the long-term plan soon enough. There’s one in the offing. However, as I look at this, an entrepreneur is the level above maker. And, before I can work seriously on the title of entrepreneur, I need to become a maker.

So, my short term plan is to turn Dynamic EFL into a finished product. Or, one that is finished enough to begin using it as the foundation of my entrepreneurial activities.

To that end, there are some things I need:

  • Better user management
    • User accounts should expire, and I should have the ability to prolong them. (The simple version of memberships)
  • Better resource addition
    • The way resources are added needs to be improved (it could be much faster)
    • The tools needed to add resources by location should be added. (So that I can add them as users from a location join — rather than preemptively adding resources for every location in Germany.
  • An updated (finished) landing page which makes it clear what the system does in as little text as possible.
  • A self-explanatory interface

None of those are big projects, and, when they’re finished, I’ll declare the system finished. I will have become a maker.

And then I’ll be able to begin taking my first steps on the path towards entrepreneurship.

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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.