Product Ideas #16

desirable interruptions, VA matchmaking, and the opposite of ad blockers

Creative Opportunity

At this point everyone knows that deep work is important and interruptions are bad. Unfortunately, while synchronous forms of communication are essential and won't die anytime soon, they are at odds with deep work. I always seem to be getting the reminder for an upcoming meeting just when I entered "the zone".

So how could we solve this problem?

Let's say two people agree that they want to chat via Zoom. But instead of scheduling the call at some fixed date, there's only the mutual agreement to talk at the next suitable opportunity. A little script then monitors what you do and the next time you're both just browsing Twitter for, say, 5 minutes, you get a prompt that offers to connect you right now.

This would not only help to minimize unwanted interruptions during productive hours but also introduce desirable interruptions. Talking is often a much better way to recharge than browsing social media or news sites.

An interesting first step in that direction is Uncalendar.me. When you share your Uncalendar link with someone, they get added to your queue. You can then signal that you're available for a call right now by tapping a button and the first person who replies gets connected to you.

Unfortunately, they're currently limited to phone calls and there's no script that asks you at suitable times if you want to get on a call right now.

Unloved Product Opportunity

I regularly look for products with bad ratings but lots of users since this is often a sign that there's an opportunity.

An interesting Chrome extension I discovered this way is Turbo Ad Finder.

Everyone loves ad blockers. But this extension does the exact opposite. It blocks everything except for ads on Facebook. And 200,000+ people (!) are using it. This is a perfect example of the observation that "the opposite of a good idea can also be a good idea".

Now why would anyone use an extension like this? Well, for example, to spy on competitors and find inspiration for ad campaigns.

Many users are complaining that the extension is not working properly or doesn't work at all. This, this and this alternative seem to have the same problems. So if you can find a way to create a better working Facebook ad finder, there seems to be a hungry market just waiting for your extension.

Or what about other platforms? I searched in the Chrome store but wasn't able to find a Reddit ad finder or Twitter ad finder, so these might be interesting opportunities as well.

Downmarket Opportunity

I recently decided to hire a full time virtual assistant. And while I'm happy with my hire, there was far too much friction in the whole process.

If you're ready to pay top dollar this is of course not an issue since there are great services like Squared Away and Great Assistant.

But there are lots of creators who can't pay thousands of dollars for an assistant but still could benefit tremendously from some help. And the good news is that there is a huge number of incredibly smart people who would love to help for much less money. But finding them is far from easy.

The two most popular platforms are Upwork and Onlinejobs.ph. On both platforms, you have to write a job description, filter through hundreds of applications, invent some assessment test, schedule calls with the most promising candidates, come up with good questions to ask them during the call, and eventually make test hires, before you hopefully end up with a suitable candidate.

This process takes a lot of time, and it seems really inefficient that everyone has to reinvent the wheel. Moreover, since you're doing it just once you really have no idea how effective your process is.

I would have loved to pay for a service that takes all this work off my shoulders. I almost ended up not hiring anyone because the task seemed so daunting.

And there's really not much you need to get started. Create an OnlineJobs.ph account, develop a solid process and start charging a commission for your matchmaking service.

There are already a few players in the space like Virtual Staff Finder. But they charge a lot and their websites are not particularly trustworthy.

So productized service + transparency + fair price seems to me a like the winning formula here.

👋 End Notes

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