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Michael Tharrington (he/him)
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Posted on

If you could start a company, what would it be?

If you had all the money you need to start a company (and you couldn't just use it go retire πŸ˜…) what kind of company would you try to create?

Top comments (14)

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

I'd really love to start up a company that makes music equipment. I'm particularly interested in making effects pedals and synthesizers. Companies like JHS Pedals, Chase Bliss, Moog, and Teenage Engineering are all super inspiring to me!

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andypiper profile image
Andy Piper

OMG actually I thought of you when I saw this yesterday! Not so much on the music creation side but it has that Teenage Engineering aesthetic and it is pretty cool!

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

YESSS... I've been salivating over this news all morning lol. Glad you gave it a mention here. πŸ˜€

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mikkergimenez profile image
mikkergimenez

Is there a particular direction you'd want to go with effects pedals and synths? Different modulation, different options unique character?

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

That's a great question. πŸ˜€

I know I'd like to create hardware that plays nice with other hardware!

I love modular cv gear, and I think it'd be really cool to have a pedal that could send and receive cv in some way. Perhaps modulation would be a good candidate, so for example I could modulate my guitar in time with a sequencer, or vice versa. I have a Moog DFAM (weird synth/drum machine) and could image doing all sorts of funky stuff connecting it to a modulation pedal via cv.

I also love looping and think there's a lotta room in that space for innovation.

I want there to be a loop system that works well for cooperative looping. I'd love to be able to set some loops of my own on guitar while the keyboardist I regularly play is also adding/removing loops of his own that are in time with mine. We've kinda figured this out via the new Boss RC-500 which we sync up via mini midi cables, but this is really the only option I found with this possibility.

I'm also interested in the weird stuff, haha...

For instance, I loved Chase Bliss's recent release called Habit (here's a YouTube video on it) ... it's kind of a loop/delay pedal but with a healthy dose of randomness and interesting tonal qualities. It seems particularly useful for ambient music.

I really love the idea of JHS's Voice Tech pedal (incoming YouTube video) though I've yet to try it. Check the video out β€” it allows you to make your guitar sing like a human and is ridiculously convincing!

I also love open source & community β€” I'd love to take advantage of that in some way

This one is more nebulous, but I think it'd be so rad to find a way to create a piece of gear with a really awesome open source community. I'd want to create hardware that could be updated via firmware, so that we could continually work on it together with the community and send out occasional updates to folks. Anyway, while I'd need to think about this one more, I really believe in the power of community and would want to have rich interactions with folks who invest in our gear.

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mikkergimenez profile image
mikkergimenez • Edited on

I used to want to do something with lifetime learning, like some kind of note taking and flashcarding/quizzing tool that would generate really immersive and dynamic questions automagically by dissecting content with NLP. So to learn a concept you may not just get asked the question once the same way, but you'd get asked 10 different questions in 10 different ways, potentially with rich media.

Right now I'm into Music (haha I see your other post reply) And am working on the sequencer side. Some way of making sequencers for live performance that are both dynamic and predictable. I'm experimenting with a web based daw since that's much faster to iterate and experiment with then hardware and where my comfort zone is. There's not a lot of money in music unfortunately but it does seem like a cool space to experiment in.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

I love these answers. I think both would be fun and rewarding!

to learn a concept you may not just get asked the question once the same way, but you'd get asked 10 different questions in 10 different ways, potentially with rich media.

This is a seriously great idea! Kinda remixing a question and asking it in a number of ways to help the person more fully understand it.

And wow, so cool to hear that you're working on sequencers!

As far as sequencers go, I've dabbled much more on the hardware side. I have an Arturia Keystep Pro that I use as my main sequencing brain for various gear, but I also love the sequencers on my Teenage Engineering OP-1 β€” they're very nontraditional and sometimes kinda treat sequencing like a video game. That said, I also have an interest in creating music via my computer (Ableton is my DAW of choice) and will eventually experiment with sequencers there. If you need any testers for what you're creating (or if it's already live) please let me know!

I really like the idea of sequencers that are built for playing live. I'd like to have a sequencer that worked well for jamming with others. I regularly get up and play music with friends and we're beginning to experiment more with other gear: loop pedals, sequencers, etc. We have a drummer, and are still kinda getting used to playing more with a steady click... I think it's kinda hard to use sequencers unless everything is super tight. We're also generally coming from a looser style of music, haha, so just adjusting.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

If I could start my company and had no constraints whatsoever, my hubris would tell me to tackle the in my eyes most important problem of the IT industry:

Fixing its broken tech recruitment process.

I realized writing this article that I care deeply about this topic

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theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring • Edited on

I have two answers for this.

If I could solve any problem

If we're talking f*ck you levels of money, I would likely look into the health sector, looking to either innovate in how we can passively track our bodies, or addressing scaling issues that make certain procedures cost-prohibitive. I dream of a world where we can get the insights of a CAT scan from home, without the $10k/appointment price tag (for some context, I've had ~ 20 of these in the last 2 years, thankfully I have good insurance and a spending cap)

My preferred Business Model - Fun

When it comes to my preferred business model, I look to the guys at Cards Against Humanity for inspiration. Those guys have a rock-solid brand that enables them to really do whatever they want - like marketing bull poop and selling out on launch day.

I have already achieved this, but it's at a hobbyist scale right now. In 2016 I formed a partnership with my Product Manager and a fellow Engineer from Highground. That year, we brought to market a pop-up SaaS product called Spoiled.io. For $2, you could give us someone's phone number, and we'd send them an anonymous text containing spoilers as the new Episode of Game of Thrones aired. As part of our launch, we submitted it to Product Hunt and was delightfully surprised when it got a #2 ranking for the day, trigger a tsunami of attention from the media that translated into revenue.

We rolled the revenue into an LLC called Super Pax (a play off of Super PAC) and have built up a small portfolio of hobby projects that have turned a profit. If I'm lucky, one day I'll bring to market one product that will enable me to focus on this business model full time.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

So dope!!

Your idea of making it so folks can get the insights of a CAT scan from home is awesome. It really reminds of Scott Hanselman's talk on creating open source tech to solve diabetes:

I definitely believe in giving people more accessible & affordable healthcare. Sounds like you have quite a bit of domain expertise and personal experience in CAT scans + you've identified a problem that is absolutely worth solving. If you decide to go forward with this at some point, I think you could make a big impact.

But, the fun route is also amazing, haha! I mean this:

For $2, you could give us someone's phone number, and we'd send them an anonymous text containing spoilers as the new Episode of Game of Thrones aired. As part of our launch, we submitted it to Product Hunt and was delightfully surprised when it got a #2 ranking for the day, trigger a tsunami of attention from the media that translated into revenue.

... is hilarious, simple, and brilliant! Also, I'm loving Super Pax, haha. You're def having fun with it! πŸ™Œ

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sylwiavargas profile image
Sylwia Vargas

Oh. A pop-up book publishing company, definitely. I love pop-up books.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him) Author

Oooo yeah! Pop-up books are so much fun and creative. They're a great intersection of a lot of different subjects really β€” writing, art, engineering... starting a company around these would be seriously cool!

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charlesloder profile image
Charles Loder

Something like "Netflix for books"

My background is in the humanities, and so many publishers view digital products as an afterthought. They think a pdf counts as an ebook, and they charge the same price for it as hardcopy.

Manning does a great job of producing digital content. For humanities, there is so much than can be done with data and images, but publishers haven't really embraced it

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ventolin profile image
ventolin

I would start a platform co-op.

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