Business ideas to avoid in the internet age

Recently, the internet was set ablaze by the announcement of Peeple, an app that let’s you, basically, rate people. As The Washington Post pointed out: “you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.”

After enormous backlash, the app was completely reworked, to address the two features most criticised: the inability to opt out and leaving abusive messages. There are other details about the app, too, but it now need not concern anyone who doesn’t want to participate in the app itself; we no longer have to concern ourselves with having pages written about us where anyone could find and see abusive things directed at us during Google searches.

So what does this tell us about how businesses should approach today’s world? From Peeple’s failure, we see that what the company overlooked was people’s privacy and, importantly, consent. In this age when people are more concerned than ever about privacy and spying (see the Edward Snowden situation), we want control over who can see what of our digital selves.

Business must be aware of this when making strides into the digital domain, or else they will be rejected and the business will flop. You need to tap into needs people require – not into fears people are hyper aware of.

For example, the Uber app enables convenience. Without having to concern yourself with having cash on hand, the taxi service allows you to travel and know that your fair is being taken care of because it is linked to your bank account.

This manages to solve the problem of transportation, as well as minimise inconvenience – both in getting the cab to you and getting your money to the cab.

But to make these kinds of ventures you can’t start off from nothing. You need a vision, you need business finance to help you acquire those tools and resources you’ll need to make that vision a reality, and you need to know how that vision fits into a world that has constantly changing fears and inconveniences that, hopefully, you can solve. We want to be an Uber, not a Peeple.  

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