Don’t Eat That – A million dollar health and fitness app

I contacted Dwayne Ratleff years ago when developing smartphone apps was in its infancy and people were making millions off a single app. Dwayne Ratleff was one of the developers I had heard about that had made a successful app and I decided to shoot him an email. To my surprise he replied and gave me some insight into his journey to create a successful app and some of the difficulties he faced.

Dwayne Ratleff developed Don’t Eat That, an app that helped decipher over 1,500 food additives and ingredients and lets you know whether they might be carcinogenic, genetically modified, a known allergen, or otherwise unhealthy. This was almost ten years ago and this is what he had to say.

“I decided to create my app after my 50th birthday, I want to find out what was in the food I was eating. So I started checking labels and realized no one short of a food scientist could possibly read food labels. After over 1500 hours of research and filtering hoaxes and myths about ingredients I created a searchable database. The amount of internet pollution is rampant. So an app that filter out all the false information out there I felt would work. No I did not worry if it would succeed because it started out as personal goal for me and evolved quicker than I had time to worry.

I hired a PR firm and did some PR myself. My during the period I hire the PR firm went up to number 4 under health and fitness during the time I hire them. Personally I found the newspaper advertisement a complete waste of time. I got low return for high expenditure. Yes I made mistakes. The biggest one was targeting my app too wide. Example; when I targeted my app to people who were most likely to use it I got mostly five stars. These people know how difficult it is to find reliable information on the internet. When it went to a wider audience that had expectation about my app that were not realistic I got lower ratings. Targeting you user is really important.

The biggest mistake I made was not realizing that I had to change government (FDA) regulations for the app to work at the lever most consumer want it to. I have petitioned the FDA to do this and it is in review by them. I can give detail if you want but I wont bore you with it hear.

Also if you have add ons of other  technology to your app, be very careful because your user will not know this technology is separate and will fault your app if it preforms poorly. I did not make this mistake but I know other who have.

Make your app self explanatory. I have track it only half the people who bought my app actually when to my information site.”

Free fruit auction – A genius business idea

Photo by Mark Kovic
Photo by Mark Kovic

I saw this business idea on NHK World Japan a few nights ago and it struck me as one of the most clever ideas I have seen recently. I can’t remember what the show was called, but it was about innovation in Japanese businesses. If anyone else saw the show and remembers the name, please comment below.

The business auctions off boxes off free fruit to people from their mobile application. The fruit is purchased from Japanese farmers who have excess fruit that looks “imperfect” and won’t sell to the supermarkets. Apart from not looking desirable, the fruit is otherwise fine.

So how does the business make money when they buy the fruit from farmers and then give it away for free? Well, this is the clever part that I really love. The business claims to make $9000 a month in advertising revenue, enough per month to pay for the fruit and give it away for free.

The company draws people to their app with free fruit and makes their money from the large volume of online traffic. It is brilliant!

I’ve been thinking of other ideas that could use the same business model as the one above. What do you think you could give away for free that would attract enough traffic to your website or app to generate ad revenue? Sound files for music and TV, art and design, food about to expire and plants are just some of the ideas I could think of.

My town has a small population so I don’t think it would work for me, but I think it is an interesting business to look into.

Wedding rings for cheating spouses

Wedding rings for cheating spouses
Wedding rings for cheating spouses

Wedding rings signify several important elements in a couple’s life: eternal love, devotion, commitment, fidelity, honor and respect and the bond of unity, but not all marriages run smoothly.

One problem affecting relationships is Infidelity and depending on what study you read, half of all divorces are due to infidelity. I don’t know if this is true, but certainly, infidelity happens.

What would you do if your partner cheated? Would you end the relationship or forgive your spouse and take them back?

Some people choose to continue the relationship, but how do you rebuild the relationship and trust that was broken? The rings exchanged during the wedding no longer signify devotion, commitment and fidelity.

“Uncomfortable” rings could be a new product idea to design and sell to people with cheating spouses. By designing rings to be uncomfortable, cheating spouses would be constantly reminded of and punished for their infidelity. Wearing uncomfortable rings would also show renewed commitment and devotion to the relationship.

What are your thoughts?

Stunning bag inspiration

Bag inspiration
Bag inspiration

If you thought that there were no new ideas in this world, check out the stunning bag inspiration by Amaoto Hesori-Go-Ai (I used Google Translate so I’m not sure if this is right) on the artists website.

The artist creates bags, key rings and accessories that resemble realistic animals. The artists’ work focuses mostly on insects and creepy crawlies, but you will see other creatures like fish and turtles and mammals meticulously crafted into bags.

I don’t know much else about the artist, but these are some of the coolest bags and accessories I’ve seen. The designs make me want to design and sell my own line of animal bags, then I remember all the other businesses I want to start.

Creative pots for succulents, cacti and indoor plants

Robot succulent pots
City scape succulent pots
Ocean succulent pots

For many people Indoor plants are a source of great joy. They are good for your health and wellbeing and add visual beauty to your indoor spaces. The trend in indoor plants is growing and I see an opporunity in cool and unique pots, that compliment the plants and add to your homes décor.

There is plenty of opportunity to be creative with your designs, but it might be a good idea to consider designs that will appeal to the greatest number of people, as opposed to a small niche.

This is soemthing I would love to do. I love plants and I love creative design.

kids magnet board ideas

Magnet board idea
Magnet board idea

This is a really fun idea that allows for a lot of creativity in design. Children’s magnetic boards are a great activity for kids to learn and have fun, but I have noticed that most of the products available are extremely boring!

This is great news for you if you are looking for an existing product with potential that you can improve on for sale under your own brand. The size, shape and design are only limited by your creativity.

You could create boards to help with learning words, colours and shapes or develop a game to play on the board. As an example I found a League of Legends map and created a magnet board concept that would make a great interactive game for kids to play by themselves or with friends.

Skyscrapers with different magnet characters to place in the windows, Township maps with magnet people and animals to place around (they could even have magnet conversation bubbles), zoos with animal magnets and under the sea with sea creature magnets are just some of the ideas I can think of.

Can you think of any creative ideas?

Create a fictional brand and sell merchandise

Squerm fiction brand logo

This is a business idea that you could have a lot of fun with. The idea is to start a fictional company (it could be anything) and sell merchandise for that company. Just like Coca Cola and other brands sells merchandise for their companies.

You could create fictional brands for foods and drinks, space companies, companies based on books or movies or fictional tourist destinations. There are endless possibilities for this idea.

“I surfed the biggest…”, “I rode the…”, “I saw the…”, these are the start of slogans that could be used for fictional tourist merch.

I designed a quick logo for a fictional company based on elements from the Neal Asher, Polity novels. The Squerms are a fiction creature genetically engineered from tube worms, sea louse and lobsters and are exported from Planet Masada for their essence extract. I thought they would be the perfect inspriation for a fictional brand. Could you mistake this for a real company?

Leather craft business inspiration

Swift Hammer Leather craft
Swift Hammer Leather craft

Swift Hammer Leather is a handmade leather business that specializes in unique custom leather goods: bracelets, cuffs, bracers, vanguards, wallets, belts, corsets, cardholders, cosplay gear, larp pieces, archery equipment, weapon holsters, journals and journal covers, bike seats, watch bands, Apple watch bands, badges, patches, camera straps, and anything you can think of.

“Ever since my lovely girlfriend and business partner, Celeste, gifted me a leathercrafting starter kit on my 21st birthday I’ve been obsessed with growing my art. Once the tiny box I stuffed all of my finished products in was full, we took a crack at trying to sell them. Our first vending opportunity was such a huge success that we couldn’t just ignore the option of growing this business further. We are always open to a challenge- feel free to contact us for any custom project you can think of.”

The products are amazing and the business does things with leather that I haven’t seen before. I love the coloured stains and textures used in the various products. The intricate designs remind me of the fantasy art and design elements from Hearthstone.

I will admit, when I first saw these designs I wanted to start a leather craft business inspired by Swift Hammer leather and Hearthstone design elements (if you’ve played the game you will know what I’m talking about). Then I realized, I already have enough business ideas I want to start.

If you have some great ideas or skills in leather craft, this could be a good business for you.

Interactive and animated books – The future of children’s literature

Animated Children's book on Youtube
Animated Children’s book on Youtube

Improvement in technology has made it easier for anyone to access thousands of books on their hand-held devices. As technology grows and improves accessibility to content, I see more and more people moving away from physical book copies. It might not happen for decades, but I think physical books will eventually disappear from the mainstream market.

In saying that, Children’s books are still popular amongst people who want physical copies. I think parents and children prefer to have a physical copy to hold onto and go through together. Not to mention, tablets and smart phones can be detrimental to children’s development.

Eventually this will change with the growing technological shift and children will be reading books with more interactivity on tablets and smart phones. I think children’s books will become animated and interactive, with the animations syncing with your reading and having touch screen interactivity.

I know animated books exist, but they haven’t hit the mainstream market. I think they will become more common and you could get in on the ground floor. You could start an animated book publishing company, self-publish your own animated books or you could develop platforms for animated books. There might already be some platforms out there, but you could create apps to help people create animated books or create an app for the viewing of animated books.

I’m sure there will be a market for physical children’s books for a long time to come, but technological advancement is inevitable.

My epic invention fail

Invention idea
Invention idea

I have a lot of ideas and a couple of year ago I decided to act on those ideas and try inventing. It did not go well; it was my biggest failure and cost me upwards of $20,000. I will detail my experience and mistakes below to help you succeed.

I was inspired by reading blogs and articles of other inventor success stories and started compiling a list of all my invention ideas. I didn’t know how to start so I contacted a local inventor consulting company to get some advice.

They were great at first and helped me narrow down my invention idea to the one that had the most potential. They also gave me a lot of information on the industry and process of inventing. Looking back, I was naive and thought I could achieve my goal with a shoestring budget (this did not work). I think if you want to start inventing, be prepared to spend $10,000 and over. $10,000 is the minimum amount I would have if I ever attempted this again.

Most of the money will go product design and development (unless you have the skills to do it yourself), patent applications and legal fees. So why did I spend over $20,000? A good portion of that went to the consultants, and from what I know now, I could have done it without them.

Firstly, DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT YOUR INVENTION, not even friends or family. This could void your future patent application. If you need to discuss it with someone, have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. You can have a lawyer whip one up for you.

TAKE NOTE, because this is the important part that will save you money. Start off by applying for a PROVISIONAL PATENT. Provisional Patents cost substantially less, need less information and give you 1 year’s protection. This gives you one year to finalize your development and test the market before deciding whether your invention will be profitable. At the end of the year you need to apply for the full patent which backdates to the start of your Provisional Patent. This is my understanding from what I was told but do your own research to confirm.

I hadn’t finished my development or market research by the end of the Provisional Patent (I think it just cost more money than I was expecting) and there was a rush at the end to get everything ready for the full patent application.

This is where most of the money was spent and I wish I had known more about the process and costs associated before I started (my fault for not researching). So do your research! From my experience, I knew it would be expensive, but I feel like the further along the process I got, the more money they were squeezing out of me.

Without going through the process again, without the consultants I can’t be sure whether they were over charging and milking me for money. I assume they were, at least that is the feeling I got.

In the end it just got far too expensive for me. I was asked for an extra $8000 for international patent revisions and I just let the patent application lapse.

I was contacted some years later by a businessman inquiring about the application and offering to purchase the patent, but I had let it lapse and missed the opportunity.

So, what is the lesson here? If I could go back in time, I don’t think I would go through the consultants. I would join inventor groups and forums and get advice from inventors before I started. I would do a lot more research about the process and costs involved and I would try and find a mentor