Five start-ups that are tackling life’s annoying problems – StartupSmart


The ‘keep it simple, stupid’ principle may have been devised by the US Navy in the 1960s, but it’s a catchcry that has aided many business leaders over the years.


Speak to any start-up mentor and they will tell you one of the first things they look for is whether a new business is solving an actual problem. If you’re not taking away some sort of pain or inconvenience in your customer’s life, why should they bother with you?


Some start-ups focus on solving specific irritations in our day-to-day lives.


There’s even a venture in the US, called Quirky, that is dedicated to inventing simple but brilliant devices, such as the bendy power board, the multifunction wine opener and a clever way of separating egg whites from the yoke.


Here are five other start-ups, from Australia and overseas, looking to cash in on everyday annoyances:



1. Lost house keys




Do you ever get paranoid that you haven’t locked your front door? Do you panic if you lose your keys? US start-up Lockitron is aiming to solve both of these conundrums.


The business has created a device that you can put on your front door that’s connected to a smartphone app.


This has multiple uses – you can lock and unlock your door using your phone, dispensing with the need for a key.


It also informs you, again via your phone, whether your door is locked or not, wherever you are. It can even send you an update if someone unlocks your door, such as an errant child.


Lockitron is currently available on pre-order, with the enterprise pencilled in for launch in May.



2. Odd jobs




TaskRabbit is a business specifically for the small, tricky jobs that you don’t have the time or know-how to do.


The start-up acts as an online and mobile marketplace that allows people to “live a smarter and more fulfilling life” and is gaining serious traction in the US.


It connects users with people in their neighbourhood who can help them complete the tasks on their to-do list.


Users simply post a task, including the maximum amount they are willing to pay for it, and the TaskRabbit who makes the lowest bid is assigned to run the task.


TaskRabbits are paid online, so no cash is needed, with only a small percentage going towards a service fee.


TaskRabbit says it is forming a “virtual neighbourhood”. A similar service has been launched in Australia by a start-up called Airtasker, which is attempting to gain a foothold in the local market before any potential international expansion by its larger rival.


It will be interesting to see how the story plays out for TaskRabbit and Airtasker in 2013.


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