You might know Seth Godin as a sort of marketing legend, the author of books such as Unleashing the Ideavirus, "the most popular e-book ever published," according to his marketing materials (I have no idea how I'd check that), and Purple Cow, "the best-selling marketing book of the decade" (similar caveat).
Back in the late 2000s, Godin offered an "alternative MBA" at his office north of New York City. The idea was to gather a group of nine people together and let them "lear[n] about being an entrepreneur, a freelancer, a marketer," all according to a "vision that didn't involve going to business school and earning an MBA."
I don't know how things turned out for the nine participants; you can track them down here. As part of the program however, they brainstormed and came up with 999 business ideas--scratch that--998 business ideas (more on that below). The goal: to demonstrate that "ideas are a dime a dozen. The money is in the execution."
Short version: They were right. Of the nearly 1,000 ideas on the list, there are several that turned out to be pure, diamond-studded platinum--at least for the other people who actually executed them. You should check out the full list itself. I find inspiration every time I do. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Technically, Airbnb had already been founded, but ...
No. 120 on the list: "A travel company that arranges for people to stay at others' houses" sounds familiar.
2. WeWork (and other shared office spaces)
No. 2: "Incubator site providing office space, hosting, etc., for startups that are seed funded."
3. Seriously, my sister would love this
No. 64: "A drink company that brings back the Shirley Temple--the best drink ever!"
4. Yes, I would buy this one even for myself
No. 78: "Personalized cereal boxes (to celebrate a child's achievements)."
5. Case in point: the city where I live now, and it's not even that small
No. 19: "Small-town/city [web]sites--[because] most small-town sites are terrible."
6. Wait, I know this one: Handy
No. 890: "Coordinator service for independent maids."
7. Spotify or Pandora, except for the first part
No. 866: "A playlist .com that allows users to stream their friends' playlists and create their own but with a recorded personalized introduction to each song."
8. I acknowledge I might be exhibit A of the need for this
No. 225: "Garanimals for adult men."
9. Zirtual--or maybe let's say Time Etc.
No. 398: "English speaking, U.S. educated virtual assistant."
10. But what would the pets think?
No. 448: "Mobile pet neuter vans."
11. I guess the business model would have to do with viral videos ...
No. 280: "Roomba-type toy for dog to chase around house. Should move faster, be fairly indestructible, and make appropriate noises."
12. I'm not sure an Audi A4 counts as exotic, but Silvercar ...
No. 563: "Car rental service offering exclusively exotic cars and, even better, one-off concept cars (with waivers)."
13. I just like this one
No. 601: "Zagats for churches."
14. And this one
No. 687: "Dance club in an old airplane."
No. 792: "Futures market for high school and college students related to their future earnings."
16. There is no spoon
No. 789: "There is no 789." (See, I told you there were only 998.)
17. Millions await!
No. 857: "Design stylish toothbrush holder with big holes to handle modern toothbrushes!"
Before we go, here are three others to bring us to an even 1,001:
No. 999: Uber driver (Uber didn't yet exist).
No. 1,000: Airbnb host (Airbnb didn't quite exist).
No. 1,001: Inc.com columnist. Not a bad gig, if I do say so myself.