Opensource Business Idea for Out of Work People
On my blog (link at bottom), I posted this rather large article that probably wouldn't be suited well here in this thread. However, it is the basis for this thread.
Here's a synopsis and the link. I sort of got the idea by expanding on the thoughts of Tom Adelstein who posts frequently on lxer.com.
Basically, the idea I had was that one-man, moonlight startups could be sitting on the next big thing. They need to be encouraged or these people may keep their day jobs and never jump into becoming a real company. The FLOSS model might not suit them at first because they cannot afford or have the time to handle tech support calls immediately. They may need to hold down a day job. If you had a hand in helping them become profitable, and could take a small percentage of that profit, you could become perhaps quite wealthy as owner of such a company that helps these startups get off the ground. Take for instance that you might have helped SugarCRM, EnterpriseDB, JBOSS, Flikr, or Writely get off the ground and could earn even a small portion of their revenues. Your tech support firm might have even gotten a finder's fee for connecting the venture capitalist with the startup company.
Now introduce for this moonlight programmer this exciting business proposition. You would provide him free email and phone tech support for his customers, using an easy-to-use system that costs him nothing. He merely sits back and provides level 2 or level 3 tech suport for his product to a cadre of tech support staff. He can respond by email, forum, live chat, or phonecalls, based on his ability to respond per his time constraints. He can even listen in on a few recorded or live calls to evaluate whether he likes this or not. (The live calls would only be in special cases and would have NDAs that would require signature and 4 day air mail.)
If he agrees, then he taps into a graduated system where he can slowly increase his wealth, as does the tech support company. The tech support company also will have a separate division designed to mentor, encourage, and exponentiate that growth to the point where he can either go out on his own or use their tech support. Either way, it's win-win for his business and the tech support company. Even if he leaves the relationship with the technical support company and no longer needs their support, he can be a great asset as a potential reference, potential email tech support mentor for technologies or programming things he knows, free advertising (in some cases), and he can always come back because he might like it so well.
The backend system for this corporation would be a global call center based in a non-USA, non-European country (for easier laws in some cases) that uses Internet phone connections, Asterisk PBX, phpBB, and a CRM.
Of course, the tech support company would, at first, be extremely primitive and perhaps not as professional as possible when it starts up. In fact, it might just be buddies helping each other out. But eventually, it could blossom into something huge -- especially with venture capital from a company like IBM.
Here's the full breakout of how it works: