What’s going on lately…
Lots of exciting happenings lately. I’m still working near full-time with my family’s company, Dave’s Sports Shop, in Lynden, Wash. (Click here for a bit of history about the shop my grandparents started in 1957). Over the past twelve months, my work there has mainly been developing the Export/Import (“EXIM”) Division, which focuses on legal international sales, mostly to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In a world of regulatory complexity, this has been quite the task. We’ve been overwhelmed with demand (a good thing, right?), but so much so that I recently stopped accepting new orders until I can get through all of our pending transactions and serve those customers well. Beyond that, there’s lots of work to be done for our retail store. Tightening bank covenants require a big chunk of my time, and there’s always plenty to do.
I’ve also been meeting a bit with Dan Hall, co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based GunUp.com, a funded pre-launch startup. Keep an eye on the site, there are lots of interesting things to come. For now, our relationship is simply two people with big ideas about how to innovate and bring the shooting sports industry and community into the 21st Century, particularly in terms of social networking and industry process automation. Perhaps in the near or mid-term future our relationship will become even more official as we work together to build a top community for shooting enthusiasts and the dealers that serve them.
I continue to have new business ideas nearly daily – a real entrepreneur’s dilemma. I have, for the most part, learned to set most of these aside and plan early on never implementing most of them. Just for fun, here are a couple of my ideas so far this week:
- BridgeUp: an iPhone application that let’s you know when a drawbridge (like Seattle’s Ballard Bridge or Fremont Bridge) is going up, up, or coming down. It would also include webcam links, and historical stats of likelihood to go up on a given date or time. If a venture like this actually had funding (maybe even public grants?), one could install photoelectric sensors across the canal on both sides of a bridge, at a height such that when the laser beam was broken, it signals that a boat of sufficient height to open the bridge is incoming. Then given a set of parameters such as “from 4-6pm the bridge does not open except for very large boats” could be applied to predict likelihood of a bridge opening. The idea is perhaps a bit of a novelty, but could be useful for those traveling the neighborhoods near such drawbridges, which in Seattle happen to be the neighborhoods with a high percentage of iPhone users.
- Social & GPS-connected Radar Detector: Radar detectors are somewhat simple devices that typically perform one primary function: alerting a driver when a police-type radar is detected in the area. They work to varying degrees of effectiveness, and with varying levels of legality in different states and municipalities. However, in today’s world of ubiquitous GPS devices (mostly cell phones), and the quickly-growing integration of social media, one could create such a device that detects radar signals, and then transmits the details of the detection (including GPS location, radar type, strength detected, etc) via cellular data to a central server that would consolidate this data and use it to determine actual police hotspots. The in-car device could then give a driver even more advanced notice, like “Caution, likely speedtrap ahead 0.5 miles” based on timely input from such devices in others’ vehicles. Privacy concerns? Perhaps… but certainly one could find a way to keep things secure and allow opt-out privacy for those who desire.
- On-Site Airport Curbside Valet Parking: rather than parking at an off-site lot and waiting for a shuttle, or parking on-site at three times the cost, what about uniformed valet officers at a curbside booth in the departures drop-off area. Simply pull up, flag a valet, hand them your keys (and answer a few simple questions if you haven’t pre-reserved) and you’re on your way into the airport, while your car is being driven to an off-site lot by the valet. For return flights, the Valet company would simply track return flight details using integration with FlightStats.com or something of the sort, and know when to have your vehicle ready for curbside pickup. My research shows at least one other airport that has something quite similar to this idea currently offered.
That’s all for now…. as usual a bit of a random ride through my mind and thoughts. But, that’s life.