My unborn babies

My unborn babies - image for article by Greg Alder

I don’t know about your mind, but mine’s always coming up with ideas. I act on some of my ideas. Others get filed away for later.

I know from experience that ideas that get filed away for later rarely see the light of day. Sometimes it’s because I have acted on a subsequent idea that greedily demands too much of my time. Sometimes they don’t see the light of day because I still don’t know how to solve a logistical problem or I don’t have the contacts to develop my ideas or I don’t have the money to develop them.

In other words, my ideas go nowhere for the same reasons that millions of big ideas don’t get developed – and the same reasons that you haven’t developed some of your own big ideas.

So this blog post is a show and tell session. I am going to share with you a few random ideas from my past. I hope that they encourage you to share some of your own big ideas.

Who knows? Together we might be able to make some of them happen.

I don’t keep a record of my past ideas, but here are a few of them.

Fake grass

This one dates back to primary school. To be honest, I can’t recall the inspiration. Maybe it came to me whilst I was mowing the grass for my dad. However I’m not sure he would have trusted me with the Victa mower at age 9 or 10.

So the likely inspiration would have been the rugby field. I started playing rugby at the age of 5 and kept playing until I was 22, when my eyesight made me a poorer player than I had been in my heyday – at age 14. I peaked early.

We could always be certain that at some time each rugby season we’d play on an oval that was a quagmire. Players lost boots in that mud. Parents lost small children. At other times, the mud would have dried into concrete that drew blood.

Whichever the catalyst for my big idea, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was grass that was the same from week to week, that never needed mowing, that never turned to mud.”

My big idea predated AstroTurf (the first artificial turf) by about four or five years. Artificial grass is now big business. I could have been a wealthy 10-year-old.

Wipers for glasses

At about 13 or 14, I needed to wear glasses (the beginning of the decline in my rugby prowess). One of the things I noticed about wearing glasses was that they’re not designed for rain. I was now in high school. When I was in my school uniform, my boater did a decent enough job of keeping rain off my glasses. At all other times I’d get rain all over the lenses and couldn’t see any better with my glasses on as I could with them off.

I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if glasses came with windscreen wipers?”

I actually gave this idea a bit more thought than I gave to creating fake grass. I guessed that maybe someone could build a tiny electric motor. I guessed that maybe there were batteries smaller than AAA – which were the smallest ones I’d seen at that stage.

I ultimately didn’t do anything with my idea. Years later I saw a photo of someone wearing glasses with wipers. As recently as 2002, a patent was granted for clip-on wipers. However, contact lenses largely diminished the potential market and wipers for glasses are unlikely to be anything more than a novelty.

My moment had passed.

5-minute holidays

This is a more recent idea. It dates back to the late 90s. Here’s the concept:

We film and edit video brochures for resorts and tourism destinations around the world. Each video is shot from a guest’s point of view. Some feature sports activities, some pampering in spas and some relaxing on the beach or by the pool.

However the idea is that we don’t market them as brochures, but as five-minute holidays.

Say you’re sitting at your desk and you need a break. You go onto the 5-minute holidays website, choose what sort of break you’d like to take – beach, skiing, bushwalking, camping etc. Next you select where you’d like to take your 5-minute break. And whether you’d like a luxury 5-minute holiday or a simple one.

You then spend the next 5 minutes enjoying your virtual holiday. At the end of the video, you’re asked if you’d like to take the real holiday. There’s a link to a booking page and discounted rates.

Tourism operators would pay for the videos. It would be free to take a 5-minute holiday.

What stopped me developing it? The logistics of filming, editing and curating videos from thousands of operators around the world.

In between my early ideas and this one were dozens more. They continue, almost daily. I will never have time to develop each of them.

These are my unborn babies.

What are yours? What ideas have you had that you haven’t yet developed? What inspired them? Why haven’t you done anything with them? Share them. You never know. There might be someone reading this who gets your idea and has what it takes to bring it to life.

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