Giving Away an Idea

So, for the last year, my wife and I have been brainstorming an idea. My wife thought up the initial concept, and I’ve been fiddling with it ever since. It’s a killer idea, and everyone we’ve told about it agrees it could be huge.


I don’t have the time or resources to build this into something. I’m a thinker, a marketer, a business guy…but not a coder. And I’m crazy busy, working full-time and consulting on the side. I just don’t have the time, and I don’t have the money to build a proof of concept to go get money to work on this full-time.

But I bet someone else does 🙂

So, as rich as this could make me, I’d rather see someone else build this idea than see it languish on my hard drive.

So, without further ado, the killer idea! If you think this has merit, and want to build it, I’d love to be involved! (or, if we can get it) is a digital platform to find, create, motivate, monitor and reward fans of brands. In short, it is the ultimate tool to both enable and encourage word of mouth marketing, turning average consumers into brand evangelists.

We want to be THE place where fans go to interact with brands, the hub of all online brand interaction.

PROBLEM: On any given day, the vast majority of people interact with dozens if not hundreds of individual brands in some way, shape or form. Alas, few of those customers are motivated to interact with and evangelize those brands beyond the point of purchase or use (unless something goes wrong). Since word of mouth is the Holy Grail of marketing, this is a big negative for brands. Enter

SOLUTION: enables the gamification of being a fan, using a combination of badges, a competitive tiered fan ranking structure (backed by a proprietary algorithm), and brand provided rewards and deals to motivate brand users to become brand evangelists.

MARKET: With an estimated 2 billion people worldwide with access to the Internet (3 billion by 2015), and an estimated 50-100 million companies around the world, provides an opportunity for a global audience to congregate digitally with fellow fans and to be rewarded for fan loyalty. In addition, the mobile app gives access to an estimated 449 million smartphone users in 2011, which is expected to grow to 970 million by 2013, and 2 billion by 2015.

Key Features:

  • Game Mechanics
    • Badges
    • Tiered, Limited Fan Ranking Structure (algorithmic)
    • Rewards (from Groupon style deals to limited rewards for upper-tier fans; virtual currency is a possibility)
    • A centralized place for fans to interact with brands, and for brands to both track and reward fans for their interaction. Each Fan page will have a “News Feed” style aggregator of web wide mentions.
    • Self-sustaining exponential growth through a reward/status generating invite system.
    • Individuals can’t own fan pages. Brands can pay for admin access. This is a place for fans to be fans, and for the brands to get a clear, un-edited look at brand sentiment.
    • Any individual can create a fan page for a brand. One page per brand.
    • Fan pages can only be created for legitimate companies, brands, groups, etc. Companies, churches, bands, things of that nature. NO “Donate to Buy Harry a New Wand” crap fan pages.
    • A “Defend the Brand” feed, that feeds in any negative comments about the brand (located through a combination of APIs and web crawling). A defend the brand button allows fans the chance to earn rewards for going to the site/comment in question and defending the brand.
    • A “Brand Status” widget on each page that uses sentiment analysis and various other factors in an algorithm to show how positive or negative a brand’s online reputation is.
    • Sentiment Analysis Filtration – No points/rewards for negative comments or “anti-fans”

Game Mechanics – Tiered Fan Rankings & Rewards:

  • 5 Clear “Fan Levels” – Dabbler, User, Fan, Groupie, SuperFan! (or something to that effect)
  • Leader Board for each brand
  • Hidden 6th Level – The Ultimate Fan
  • Each level is limited as follows:
    • Dabbler – Unlimited Number of Fans (the standard starting point for new users)
    • User – 100 Million Fans (some people start here, under special circumstances)
    • Fan – 10 Million Fans (some people start here, under special circumstances)
    • Groupie – 100,000 Fans (the 2-3 top fans of top brands offered exclusive starting status)
    • SuperFan! – 100 Fans (time requirement in addition to algorithm, 6 month minimum)
    • The Ultimate Fan – 1 Fan (time requirement in addition to algorithm, 12 month minimum)
    • Each level from Fan to The Ultimate Fan has special perks, rewards, offers, etc.
    • Ranking is determined by a weighted algorithm composed of the following (IP, in progress):
      • # of Brand Mentions (mention the brand name online, Positive, Neutral or Negative)
      • # of Brand Interactions (visited a page, shared a link, etc)
      • # of Friends you invite total
      • # of Friends you invite who actually sign-up
      • # of Friends you invite who stay active on the site (MLM style, they level up, so do you)
      • # of Friends you invite who fan a brand you are a fan of
      • Frequency of Brand Mentions
      • Frequency of Brand Interactions
      • Diversity of Brand Mentions
      • Diversity of Brand Interactions
      • # of Times you Log-in – trailing time period
      • Frequency of Log Ins – trailing time period
      • # of Times you visit and/or interact with a brand fan page
      • # of Brand fan pages you create
      • # of Times you defend a brand
      • Length of time as a fan
      • Social Popularity – # of Friends, Fans & Followers
      • Social Popularity of the people you invite
      • Points or Digital Currency to Spend in Brand Stores? Maybe…
      • Possibly even a code system tied back to POS to give rewards for offline purchases


  • Admin Access to a Brand’s Fan Page (Based on # of fans at each level? Or flat fee?)
  • Specials & Groupon type Deals – We get a % of sales (urgency by limiting time and quantity, and only to certain fan levels)
  • % of Brand Merchandise Sales – From both licensing deals and directly from the brands
  • Affiliate Links – Links to products mentioned in feeds automatically wrapped with our affiliate link? Maybe.
  • Access to back-end, non-personal data for a fee (market research, competitive analysis, etc)
  • Access for brands to email fans (opt-in ONLY) – Can elect to email competitor’s fans as well
  • Can pay to prevent your competitors from advertising to your fans
  • Location/Proximity Aware Mobile Marketing to Fans and Fans of Competitors, CPM, CPC or %
  • Digital brand loyalty card system (tied to a mobile app?), monthly fee + a %
  • Paid Sentiment Analysis and Reputation Reports, for Brands and Competitors
  • Paid Market Research, Q&A, Focus Groups, Polls, Questionnaires, Surveys, etc.
  • Paid Job Listings (work for your favorite brand!)
  • Tiered Group Buying Discounts? Maybe…

Integration – Pull Data from APIs, Spidering, Scraping, etc for the following (if possible):

  • Foursquare
  • Yelp
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Urbanspoon
  • Google Places
  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • CNET
  • YouTube
  • Habbo
  • Tagged
  • Orkut
  • Friendster
  • Windows Live Spaces
  • Bebo
  • Qzone
  • Badoo
  • Hi5
  • Vkontakte
  • Douban
  • Quora
  • Yahoo Answers
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Possible connection to existing online brand loyalty systems (Disney, Coke, etc)
  • Many other social platforms, as needed and as we expand globally


  • Facebook Connect and Google Open ID (possibly others as we expand globally)
  • Integrate Facebook FaceMash & Facebook Comments
  • Limited initial access? Membership by invite only? Worked well for Google+ and Spotify, amongst others
  • Minimal Personal Data Collection, opt-in only
  • Everything but name and email address is 100% optional (at least to sign-up)
  • Link/Claim your other social profiles (required to get credit for brand interaction off-site)
  • Possibly a browser app for tracking mentions?? Maybe not, too many privacy issues…
  • Possibly a mobile app for tracking mentions and using the site, cashing in rewards, etc.
  • Invite Friends (rewards for doing this, virtual or real?)
  • Pick things to be a fan of (suggestions based on social profiles? FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc?)
  • Can’t find a brand fan page? Create one!
  • Be able to “friend” people on the site?? Big Maybe – Don’t want to poach in FB territory

Growth Strategy:

  • Seed the site with fan pages for the top 500-1,000 global brands at launch
  • Approach those top brands to offer access to the various features, for permission to use their logos, for special offers and deals for fans, etc.
  • Send a special invitation to the top 5-10 fans of each of those brands to join the site (for an example, look at the marketing campaign for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter).
  • Set-up a crawler to crawl Facebook, Google Places, Yelp, etc for groups/fan pages/brands, etc.
  • Groupon/Living Social style brand reps/ambassadors securing business from local brands in the form of special deals – reach out to every brand for which we have a fan page. Ambassadors are paid with status boosts for each brand they bring onboard.

Mobile App:

  • Access to your account, rewards, etc. on the go
  • Location based functionality to organize fan meet-ups, flash mobs, etc.
  • Digital Loyalty Card functionality via the mobile app?
  • Proximity based specials and rewards from both fan brands and competing brands
  • Other features as requested/needed

Partner Technology:

Consider partnering with or using companies like iActionable or others to find dev shortcuts.


  • Founders salaries and benefits
  • Company formation and legal consultations
  • Design (Website and Corporate Identity)
  • Web Development
  • Marketing Costs
  • Servers and Back-end Technology
  • Creation and/or licensing of IP
  • Purchasing (in the future, if possible)

To Do:

  • Form a Delaware C Corp w/ 10,000,000 shares of common stock; only one class of stock
  • Find a corporate attorney (business formation, IP law, etc.)
  • Get a business mailbox and phone number
  • Design a logo/corporate identity
  • Do a seed round
  • Hire coders (web dev, mobile apps, etc)
  • Build a beta of the website
  • Look into buying or a similar name (,, etc.)

Investment Goals:

  • Series A – 10-20% Ownership (reserved shares, no dilution)- $500,000 – $2,000,000
  • Series B – 10% Ownership (from share dilution) – $2,500,000 – $5,000,000+
  • Series C – 5-10% Ownership (from share dilution) – $25,000,000-$50,000,000+
  • The goal is to be profitable long before a Series D is needed, and hopefully before Series C

Company Structure:

  • CEO/Founder – $100,000 salary (in-line with Peter Thiel’s advice), 40% Stock
    • Set vision/goals, define the brand/culture, connect w/ VCs and Angels, find partners
  • CTO/Co-founder – $80,000 salary, 20% stock – Build and oversee the building of the technology, manage coders and web dev
  • CMO/Co-founder – $80,000 salary, 20% stock – Spread the word, manage all marketing, social
  • As a group, we will all participate in hiring, evangelizing, and product development
  • CFO – Use a company like or other
  • 20% of stock reserved for Series A investors
  • Founder Vesting Schedule – 25% of options vest up-front, 25% at the end of year one, then 25% per year (vested monthly) for 2 years.
  • Buy-out Clause – All Options Vest Immediately Upon Sale or IPO

The Board:

  • 5 seats
    • 2 Seats to Founders, Can be Assigned
    • 1 Seat to CEO
    • 2 Seats to Investors

Dream Investors:

Greylock Partners, Accel Partners, Digital Sky Technologies, Clarium Capital

Company Goals:

  • Growth (registered users):
    • Year 1 – >2,000,000
    • Year 2 – >10,000,000
    • Year 3 – >50,000,000
    • Year 4 – >100,000,000
    • Year 5 – >200,000,000
  • Revenue Goals ($5 per user per year; slower revenue growth than Groupon, but faster than Facebook):
    • Year 1 – >$10,000,000
    • Year 2 – >$50,000,000
    • Year 3 – >$250,000,000
    • Year 4 – >$500,000,000
    • Year 5 – >$1,000,000,000
  • Global presence:
    • Stage 1 – US & Canada
    • Stage 2 – UK, Australia, and all other English speaking countries
    • Stage 3 – Germany, France, Russia, China, Japan
    • Stage 4 – Central America, South America & Spain
    • Stage 5 – Everywhere else, based on online connectivity of locale & demand
  • Aim to be cash flow positive within 12-18 months
  • Exit Strategy – >$1,000,000,000
    • Sale
    • IPO

Barrier to Entry:

The site, by necessity, encourages people to use other social platforms extensively, as part of the ranking and rewards process. Also, by necessity, it needs access to the data from those various social platforms. Because it needs that data, and encourages the use of those platforms, it would be difficult for any other big social media player to get that access, because they would be seen as a competitor and blocked.

IP and critical early stage partnerships with major brands will also be a huge competitive barrier.


Facebook & Google+, to some degree, but both are unlikely to go this route

CrowdTwist, CrowdTap and BuzzSeed are closer, but still nowhere near the scope of this concept.

Misc Ideas for Future Monetization/Expansion:

  • Job Listings – Work For Your Favorite Brands!
  • Possible social gaming platform for branded social games?
  • Brand videos section, both brand made and fan made – maybe a rating/ranking system?
  • Photo feed game app – identify brands in a random photo, gives points to the creator of the photo and the person who did the identification. Compare multiple responses to find the right answers.
  • Brands can pay a fee to host a store for physical and digital merchandise?

Giving Back:

  • 100% free admin access to registered non-profits
  • % of revenue to charities, or maybe to Kickstarter campaigns, you know, funding new brands

Misc and Technical Data:

Key Site Pages:

  • Sign-up
  • Login/Log Out
  • Create a Fan Page
  • Become a Fan
  • Search Box
  • Invite Friends
  • Top Brands Banner (Home Page, under main nav) – Most Active and/or Most Fans
  • My Account/My Rewards
  • About Us/Press/Contact
  • Own a Brand? Get Access!
  • Advertise With Us

Page Types:

  • Home Page
  • Brand Page
  • Personal Profile?
  • My Account/My Rewards
  • Sign-up
  • Friend invite
  • Brand Search Results Page
  • Link Accounts (API linking)

To Create:

  • Fan Ranking Algorithm
  • Brand Suggestion Algorithm

Technology – HTML5? CSS3? XHTML + CSS? Silverlight? Air? Flex? Other?

Model Websites (Visual and/or Tech and/or Usability):

  • Zappos
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Apple
  • MailChimp
  • AutoSlash

Keep It Simple Stupid!

  • Form + Function – Apple Style

Possible Slogans

  • Fans come and go. SuperFans! Kick Ass
  • Think you’re a fan? Prove it!
  • Turning Fans into SuperFans, one mention at a time!

Misc. Notes:

  • Keep an eye on LevelUp and Google Wallet, could be useful
  • Look into UserInfuser as an alternate to iActionable
  • Create a gamification layer that can tie company sites back to us
  • Look into leveraging Corda technology for the internal analytics dashboards

Out There Ideas

  • A front mounted vehicle camera, tied to a nav system/screen, using Layar technology tied to our platform to offer real-time local deals to drivers. Maybe use HUD technology for a full game layer over reality.

One thought on “Giving Away an Idea”

  1. I don’t quite know how to get across what exactly I am thinking but if anyone can make sense of the ramblings it would be you. I came across your blog early this morning after a very very long and sleepless 40hrs, In a way I am thankful for the injury that has been slowly been driving me mad over the past year and a half because it got me here and that is means at least it has been for something. I sustained a minor injury last year and ended up with a nerve disorder that has had me fairly our of commission due to pain and the meds that are used to try and establish minor respite from it. It has left me with a lot of time to think if that is the correct term for our logic. About 4-5 days ago I began watching the fox show prison break and thank god I was bored enough to have that be the choice of distraction. After the brief lines a few things made sense from my past, at that time I thought it would be in my best interest to learn something about LLI. Thankfully I stumbled on your blog as your style of writing made it much easier and quicker to string together the mess that I have created. I spent the first 18-21 years of my life partialy embracing and more so fighting for what I thought was normalcy, after that I made the mistake of trying to fight the way my mind worked. It is going to take me some time to repair the damage I have done and to break past the ways that I have been dealing with this to be fully able to embrace it again, I haven’t gotten very far through your idea that was posted last month and it will be a slow process but in the little I have read I see what you are thinking on it and am very interested in looking deeper into it. You should have my contact info from this so if this comment makes half as much sense as I am hoping I will be looking forward to hearing from you.

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