Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Future of Packaging

Imagine an item like a pre-boxed bottle of cologne. Now imagine a machine pushing the cologne into a thin plastic tube, removing the air from inside of the tube, and then sealing both ends. The cologne is now in an airtight seal. Now the same plastic tube, which is still attached to the package, will return to its origin. You now have a sealed package in a bag. Blow some air into the bag and seal the opening (to the first end of the package). You now have a sealed package 'floating' in the center of an air-filled tube/pillow. The exterior of the plastic tube (interior of bag) could be bubble wrap so it still protects the product if the air-filled tube breaks open during shipment. Depending on the strength of the plastic.. You may be able to ship it in this without the use of a box. This could save millions in unneeded shipping costs (boxes, packing peanuts, etc.) and it's simple enough that every post office could have one behind the counter. 

I put this in my "shipping suggestions" in a survey that Amazon emailed me.

Employ the Unemployed, House the Homeless

I've been trying to end hunger, homelessness, and joblessness for the past year or two. Unfortunately, I've been unable to get it off the ground due to a lack of time and money. My unofficial name for the project is QuickHire. 

"Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom." -Nelson Mandela

New technology is created every day to bring the world closer together through better, broader communication. But I want to use that technology to go beyond snapchats and selfies. I want the combination of 1) the accessibility and availability of wireless devices; 2) the popularity and immediacy of social media; and 3) the nature of good will to make conquering poverty easier.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, current unemployment in the United States is just above 6%--around 10 million people. In November 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 16% of the population lived in poverty, including almost 20% of American children, placing American child poverty at its highest level since 1993. Unfortunately for too many people living in poverty, their condition means living in hunger. Charitable monetary and food donations while well-intended do not go far enough to solve the problems of poverty and hunger. We must harness the resources we have to not only treat but also cure the epidemic.

Put yourself in the shoes of the average poverty stricken parent. Do you have a home computer that allows you to efficiently job search while you're making ends meet in the stressful time between jobs? Probably not. But you probably have a cell phone, and more and more of these are smartphones. Smartphones are quickly becoming less of a status symbol and more of what is available (you can easily find a used iPhone for less than $100.) 

What makes QuickHire extremely unique is that a portion of our revenue will go towards non-profits that focus on improving the housing conditions of people who really need help. Freelancers are not only benefitting themselves and whoever they're working for, they're also benefitting people in their community. A portion of our revenue will go toward paying employees and the rest will go toward promotions and other various things (servers, electric bills, etc.) needed to keep the app up and running smoothly. We're building QuickHire to address social ills such as poverty, hunger and unemployment by harnessing the power of mobile technology. We hope to channel people from their rock-bottom situation to a much less stressful and more productive point in their life. A productive society is much more likely to be a positive society and vice versa. 


Our goal is to employ the unemployed, house the homeless, and feed the hungry.

a description of the organization 

A location-based marketplace application for freelancers. We will provide the opportunity to safely and securely make money by simply living life while doing what you love. I want both people and businesses to have the ability to post a problem and have it solved quickly, professionally, and expertly. To best protect everyone, the app would feature an escrow-based payment system. Everyone will also be required to have their personal information (phone, email, home address, social security number, etc.) in our system before a job can be started.

Making the marketplace location-based is extremely important. Both the freelancers and the people they are working for will have to use their location, so everyone will only see the people who are close enough to help. (You don't want someone in Bangladesh trying to convince you that he's the best guy to unclog your drain in the USA.)

The distance a freelancer can travel from their base location will be based on their mode of transportation (feet, bike, car, hyper-loop). A mode of transportation would obviously increase how far/fast a freelancer could travel from their base location, but they wouldn't be required. (Some jobs can be completed online.)

Freelancers bid on jobs they are qualified for. After a task has been approved as complete, both the freelancer and the client will receive a notification letting them know the transaction is complete. QuickHire will receive 5% of the total bill.

Our main competition is TaskRabbit. They only operate in select cities and they only let a number of people do jobs in each metro area. Our biggest difference from TaskRabbit is that we would be open to everyone who is professional and knowledgeable. "Need a job? Got a smartphone?" Everyone with a smartphone will be able to make some extra cash. "Need some help? Got a smartphone?" Everyone with a smartphone and some extra cash will be able to hire some help.

problem we're solving and how we're doing it

There are plenty of jobs for all of the unemployed. We're simply matching people with jobs. All of the current and popular freelancing marketplaces are through websites. There are almost no easy-to-use apps (or websites) for this. Bringing freelancing to its roots is important, because we live in a time where significantly more people have mobile devices than jobs. This is a problem that could easily be solved and that's what QuickHire is here to accomplish.

market competition, size, & potential

TaskRabbit would be our main competition, but there are no known marketplaces for freelancers to find jobs on a local level. You would think that would have happened first, but it never grew past Craigslist. Unless you consider a junk collector a freelancer, Craigslist isn't a website that helps freelancers find work. It's time for an app that makes it easy to quickly hire someone or be hired by someone. The jobs are out there and the people to fill those positions are closer than you might think. We're simply bringing people together.
Our market size is very large, because we're able to benefit close to 100% of the people with a mobile device and/or access to the internet. (Whether these are people who are looking for a job or they are people who need to hire someone.)

Our potential is truly amazing. Consider the numbers from the largest online marketplace for freelancers, Elance. After their merger, they now have more than 10 Million monthly users. That's through a website. The impact we could make by bringing an app (that works more efficiently than Elance) to the market is amazing. Applications are much more popular than websites. The majority of people with mobile devices check their email, read the news, listen to music, and share photos through apps. I'd like to allow them to make some money too! 

differentiation from competition

We focus on communities and our competition does not. We make an effort to match freelancers with the best opportunities and our competition does not. Our competition isn't focused on a mobile marketplace. I think it would be foolish to not go after the mobile market. Marc Andreessen once said, "The smartphone revolution is under-hyped, more people have access to phones than access to running water. We've never had anything like this before since the beginning of the planet." I can't speak for our competition, but we truly care about our users. We are passionate about our work, because we understand the struggle (life) and we want to make it as easy for everyone as possible.

If I need my gutters cleaned in Nebraska, it serves me no good to have people from all over the world saying they can help. QuickHire will help find local people to help with everything from mowing your lawn and fixing your car to developing an app and helping you turn your business idea into a reality. If you're too far from food and hungry, it shouldn't be a struggle to find someone local to bring you something to eat. It's 2015 and I think we should start acting like it.

a plan to generate revenue

It's actually a very simple approach. We will receive 5% of every transaction. (Our competition charges 8-10%.) We will be tapping a larger market and charging less than our competition.

non-profit partnership 

A portion of the QuickHire's revenue will go to non-profits which focus on improving the housing conditions of people who need the most help. Freelancers are not only benefitting themselves and whoever they're working for, they're also benefitting their community. In addition to benefitting people in need, this will give QuickHire a nice edge on marketing and public relations.

a summarization

QuickHire and its non-profit partnerships will essentially create a funnel that will channel people from their rock-bottom situation to a much less stressful and more productive point in their life. It will provide some stable ground that will actually help everyone, because a productive society is much more likely to be a positive society and vice versa. Peace and prosperity is all around us. We just need to reach out and grab it. QuickHire is for everyone (businesses and average joes; employed and unemployed) with a mobile device. This is a business that would truly help everyone and be quite profitable at the same time. 

Consider the rising minimum wage requirements that are appearing across the United States ($15/hour in Seattle). These hikes are hurting small businesses all over the country, because they can't afford to pay their employees so much money. We would be providing small business owners with an opportunity to hire part-time help without forcing them to pay such high hourly rates. $9 an hour is still great pay for a 17 year old who needs a part time job.

Evan Williams (Cofounder of Blogger, Twitter, Medium) said, "QuickHire is ambitious and would be very hard to pull off but definitely valuable if you did." 

Add in Facebook and Twitter login and you've got a platform where anyone can hire someone or be hired by someone relatively quickly. Eventually I would like to expand our operations to ending world hunger via a non-profit subsidiary. Essentially, we'd be a conglomerate that provides people with the ability to connect with others on a local level, find a job, find a place to live, and earn a meal to eat.

End World Hunger

Would you mind paying a few extra cents for everything you order at a restaurant if you knew those pennies were going towards feeding the hungry? My guess is that you wouldn't mind. In fact, you likely wouldn't even notice the increase in price and you'd appreciate every bite of your meal even more if you knew you were helping end world hunger. I want to create an initiative that encourages restaurants and grocery stores (big chains and small family businesses alike) to give a small percentage of the profits from each sale to combatting world hunger. Some businesses wouldn't even increase their prices, but most probably would. Either way, this is an effort that would help everyone and bring the world together for something great. We could even develop an app that maps out every restaurant that has joined our initiative and taken the pledge to end world hunger to make it easier for average people to support the cause.

The restaurants would gain customers, because everyone loves buying things when they know the money is going towards something beneficial. We could provide window decals and signage to every restaurant that commits to our initiative for a minimum of five years. They could be as simple as their logo next to ours with "eat here to feed the world" below them along with our website. The app would be huge on a marketing level for both the restaurants and our non-profit's fundraising. Another potential marketing benefit for the businesses would be the ability to inform each customer how much they've helped the world by eating at that restaurant or shopping at that grocery store. Each restaurant's partnership with us would also allow them to receive some tax benefits. 

Everyone would benefit from doing something good with their hard earned money without changing a single thing in their lives. That alone is huge, because people want to help others even though their money is meticulously budgeted out. The app would allow people to quickly find restaurants near them that use their profits for good and not greed. Everyone would have the ability to receive a good meal and feed the hungry all for one price. This will put an end to those annoying cashier phrases like, "Would you like to donate $5 to ______ organization/fund?" I know they mean well, but they really are annoying. Plus, I'm confident that more money would be raised if everyone was donating 25 cents here and $1.25 there as opposed to a significantly lower amount of people donating $1 here and $5 there. 

The obvious benefit would be the money raised to feed the hungry both domestically and internationally. The awesome part is that we could use the donations to provide healthy food to the hungry by investing in gardens and educating people in agriculture and healthy forms of culinary arts. This would allow people to not only receive nourishment, but potentially get a job as well.

Let me know if you have anything to add to this or if you feel you may be able to help!

Edit 02/07/16 - I'm feeling pretty grateful right now. I just received a grant from the Yum! Brands Foundation. 100% of the grant will be applied to this project, but we still have a long way to go! Please let me know if you would like to help.