Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

All of us in some form want to leave an impact on someone or something. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want the satisfaction of making a difference. I would argue most of us lay out a time-consuming and complex plan on how we plan to accomplish this.

What if you made an impact on someone’s life without realizing it? Without even REMEMBERING it?

Let’s rewind about three weeks ago. It’s Friday night or my first ever Girl’s Night to be more specific. It was supposed to be three of us and a friend brought someone else along I’ll call Kim for this post. We introduced ourselves and started chatting. At one point, she leaned in close and told me we’ve met before.

“What? No, we didn’t.”

“Yes, we did,” she proclaimed. “Actually, you inspired me to become an entrepreneur.”

My jaw dropped. “When? Where?”

She went on to explain how we’ve briefly talked at a party three or four years ago. I was gushing about how I was about to start my Company. She said I was the first woman in technology she had met and she was so motivated by our conversation, she left her corporate job and started a web development shop right here in Philadelphia. At one point, she pulled out her phone and showed me that she still had my number saved from that night.

I was completely transfixed during our conversation, amazed that I had left an impression on someone without thinking twice about it or even knowing it.  That I could have that kind of influence in such a small period of time.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. How many short encounters do we miss out on everyday that can truly transform someone’s life? How often do we ponder how our words and actions can leave a mark on others? Making a difference seems like a daunting task. As I’ve recently learned, sometimes it’s present in the small things.

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  • September 9, 2011

my-idea-notebook

At one point or another, we’re told to keep a notebook of our startup ideas. A place where we jot down the newest product/service concepts that pop into our heads. My battered one is shown above.

I started mine during my DreamIT Ventures days in 2008. I recently came across a digital version I compiled a couple of years ago and I became amused reading through them. According to my file proprieties, I haven’t updated it since September of 2009. It’s understandable because it’s around the same time I found my CTO for 123LinkIt and started building our alpha product.

I remember being one of those entrepreneurs that was afraid to share my ideas in fear of them being stolen. I’ve learned so much since then. I thought I’d take a moment to post some of the ideas I didn’t pursue. Here they are in no particular order – the good, the bad and the ugly!

  1. SwapYourCloset.com – My Mom lost a lot of weight one summer before going overseas to see her family and she had to buy a new wardrobe. The idea of swapping clothes with others was born. This idea won Second Place in Temple’s Innovative Idea Competition in 2009 and was a finalist at their Business Plan Competition the same year. I still have the domain name if anyone is interested in it.
  2. Yazana’s Grill – A healthy fast-food restaurant. This won First Place in Temple’s Idea Competition in 2008.
  3. Identity theft prevention service – After my sister had her purse stolen, she had to get on the phone with her bank, credit card companies, credit bureaus, etc. This service would take care of canceling your credit cards and ordering replacements as well as notifying your credit bureaus, calling your bank, sending new IDs, etc.
  4. YourCelebrityPhoto.com – My star-struck little sister inspired this idea. A service that allowed you to superimpose your face in a celebrity’s body or allowed you to purchase a “fake” picture of yourself with your favorite celebrity.
  5. Staffing agency for international students – I came up with this idea when a friend from Thailand couldn’t find a job that would sponsor her after college so she can stay in the U.S.
  6. Web 2.0 poker site – This one is self-explanatory. I played online poker and the community aspect of connecting with other players was missing. I envisioned a social network where you can befriend, learn from, and meet other poker players.
  7. Status updates via phone – Think of Twitter but purely mobile and permission-based. I came up with this idea in College when I was always either in class or working. When I wasn’t able to use my phone, I wanted a way I can input where I was or what I was doing so anyone who tried to reach me could either hear it in my voicemail or receive a text message displaying my current status.
  8. Measurement software for buying clothes online – This service would allow you to upload a picture of yourself and it would recommend clothing based on your body type and preferences.
  9. Social media time capsule – This emerged during New Years last year when I was thinking about everything I’ve accomplished in 2010. It’s a service that displays your memories and is able to depict your highlights as well as allow you to create a photobook as a keepsake. It would derive the data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all the major social networks.
  10. MenInUniforms.com – Every woman and gay friend I know love men in uniforms, myself included. This is a dating site for cops, firemen, sailors…phew, it’s getting hot in here (*fanning self*). I plead the fifth on how this idea was conceived.
  11. Dating reference site – A site that aggregates references from past ex’s across different categories. You guessed it, I came up with this when a guy I was seeing embellished on a few things that didn’t turn out to be true. There are actually services that do this already.
  12. Car wash in malls - This was my friend Peach’s idea. The concept is to allow drivers to drop off their cars to be detailed while they shop. We put together a plan for it and also entered it into Temple’s Idea Competition. It won First Place in 2007.
  13. Personalized homepage – self-explanatory.
  14. Personalized recipe website – self-explanatory.

As a sidebar, I currently hold the record for most “Innovative Idea Competition” placements at Temple University with three wins consecutively. The ironic thing is I entered 123LinkIt, the concept I finally chose to pursue two years ago and it only received an Honorable Mention. I actually predicated the outcome on Twitter. However, the good news is I ended up winning First Place and $10,000 in cash and prizes in their annual “Be Your Own Boss Bowl” (the equivalent of a Business Plan Competition). I outline the process and win in more detail here.

Inventing a tangible product and getting it out to market is on my bucket list. Here are some ideas I’ve had:

  1. Bookmark, pen and highlighter all in one – I read…A LOT. I wanted a bookmark that had a flat pen and highlighter from each end that slides out when needed. With my Kindle, it doesn’t seem as useful but a product idea I coveted for some time early on.
  2. Two-sided TV – Exactly what it sounds like. If you come from a large family, you already understand. We constantly fought over what to watch and I envisioned a two-sided TV that can be placed in a coffee table with Bluetooth type earpieces where you heard your show depending on the “channel” you switched to.
  3. Personalized horn – This came from many road rage incidents. It’s basically a bullhorn that would shout out pre-recorded messages to drivers who cut you off, drive too slow, etc. (Good thing I gave up my car lease! I like to think I’ve mellowed out since then too :-))
  4. Headphones that allow you to add attachments – In case you want to listen to your iPod, etc. with someone else.
  5. Walletbra.com – I’m 29 years old and have yet to own a purse. Enough said. As of September 18th, the domain is still available.

Yes, most of these ideas if not all now exist. Like one you see? Go ahead and “steal” it. I know I’m missing more and I’ll add them to the list when I recall them.

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