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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I am thinking about trying to lead the development of a data clearing house for my niche. The problem is that there are many databases spread across the internet for this niche and the businesses that have information at each of these databases must update many different databases to keep their information current. It is time-consuming, leads to out-of-date information, and hurts everyone.
I would like to help develop a clearing house for this niche that would leverage the information so that a business would update the information in one place and then it would propagate out. It would basically be a central repository of the information,
One part of the data clearing house's job would be to assign "micro-credits" to each update from the site and charge a mico-credit when a site took information. If one database took in more data than it contributed back to the database, they would be charged for that data. Part of that money would go back to net-contributors to the database and the other part to fund the maintenance of the clearinghouse. This way, databases that are contributing more information still benefit.
Obviously, there are many technical/privacy issues here, but I think would be a great asset to this niche. I am thinking this clearinghouse would be a separate entity with a board (comprised of representatives from the databases that are contributing information) and this would likely need grant money to develop the technology. Not really a money-making opportunity for me specifically, but could be a neat project to make happen and whatever benefits this niche also benefits my company in the long run.
Maybe I am missing the obvious, but I can't think of any other examples of this type of clearinghouse being done. Is there something like this out there that I could learn from to see if this is something worth pursuing?
For me, I'd forget about all that "micro-credit" malarkey and just charge a subscription.
Have you read the "Crossing the Chasm" series of books? They are a little dated now, but still full of useful ideas about this kind of stuff.
There are two major things you need:
1) A motivated niche, who are crying out for your new service and will pay real dollars for it, even if they are the ones who update it (there is value in consolidation, as that is the whole basis of your idea)
2) A leader in the niche to act as partner in development. Ideally, you can get them to pay for some/all of the development, as well as guide you on requirements, etc. In return, they get a head start on their competition in using the product, as well as the kudos of directing the project.
I used item 2) to great effect earlier, when a major client paid me several million dollars to develop a system that they knew full well I would turn into a product to sell to their competitors.
Of course, that takes time, so for now they are enjoying a competitive advantage. I am enjoying trivial funding of my business, without debt or loss of equity. It is win-win.
The two examples that come into my mind are
* Online ticket system. Used to be that every airline had its own system until in the 80s Sabre and others came in and consolidated thee.
* MLS (Real estate listings). Until the late 90s every MLS was isolated from the others, so you could only look for housed in one region. Now there are a few dbs that aggregate them.
The challenge here is both on the business side, building the relationship with all the players and on the technical side, dealing with all the different formats.
Monday, June 01, 2009
I know this probably isn't what you are talking about, but it's really too bad there is no privacy-friendly, independent of government way to maintain all the personal details data (name, address, phone numbers, etc.) centrally, instead of it being repeated over and over again at each airline, each bank, each credit card company, Safeway, IRS, Wal-Mart, car dealer, etc.
Anyway, without knowing the niche, I think this is a pretty good idea. I have often had the same thought for my niche, which is securities data - there is tons of wasted effort amongst companies maintaining the same securities details (name of issuer, symbol, CUSIP number, where traded, plus dozens of other details).
Bob Frances: "They paid you several million without getting the IP?!"
They got the "copyright" on the code, but not the IP - two very different things.
It was worth a few million dollars to them to be able to conduct many hundreds of millions of dollars of business, per year.
As I said, it was win-win ;-)
I use ASP.NET and SQL Server, not VB any more. Although it is for financial companies, so you were partially correct ;-)
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