Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Someone please start this business

I have an idea for a business. I have so many other things on my plate that I don't have time to pursue it myself, so I offered the idea to a few of my friends and relatives to see if they were interested. Since no one has yet taken me up on it, I'm now providing the idea to you readers.

I have often heard that the best startup business ideas come from someone looking to buy a product or service and realizing that it's not available. This is an example of that. That's not to say that I think it's the best startup idea ever, because I don't think it's a BIG business. However, I want someone to start this business because I want to be a customer and there must be others like me.

So, what's the idea? A home-delivery science kit subscription service.

OK, I hear your collective "Huh?," so here's the deal.

In a prior post, I described Big Science Saturday (BSS), my on-and-off weekly science experiment fun time with my two sons. In another post, I described how we're now having fun with rockets.

I'm not trying to replace their traditional school science education, and it's difficult for me to say whether or not that science education is good or bad. I do this science stuff for other reasons.

I'm trying to expose my kids to science in as many fun ways as I can. Even if they're not going to have a technology-based career or work with science in any direct way, I want them to be comfortable with it. Obviously, technology is found in absolutely everything we do today so no matter what they choose to do, technology will have an impact.

In addition, engaging with my kids in doing science experiments allows me to interact with them in an intellectual way that is just not available through the other activities we do, like riding bikes, or going to ball games. Even going to zoos and museums or my helping them with their homework does not provide the intellectual engagement combined with fun in the way that performing experiments together does. Science and technology form such a large part of every aspect of my life that I can't imagine living without it, and I want to be able to relate with them on that level.

For these reasons, I have probably performed 30-40 BSSs over the last 2-3 years. Now, while my motivations for doing BSS may be somewhat unique among other parents, I believe the concept of BSS would be widely popular. As evidence of this, when I was doing BSS regularly for several months, other parents in the neighborhood started asking if their children could attend. Eventually, I had 5 or 6 kids on any given Saturday, which indicates that the interest might broader than just oddballs like me.

The popularity of BSS with my kids and others led to the problem that begs for a business solution. In essence, the time and effort required to come up with new and interesting experiments got to be too great. Yes, you can buy all kinds of science kits, but to create a regular activity based on one-off science kits, while ensuring a quality learning and fun family experience, continuity of concepts, no redundancy, etc., is a huge commitment that a working parent just can't provide.

So, there's my long-winded reasoning for why a subscription science kit service makes sense. Here are the some aspects of the service:
  • Customers would purchase a subscription to receive an experiment kit, probably once every other week.
  • The kits would include all required materials (except for maybe common household materials, like baking soda), complete directions, an explanation of the science for the parent, and an explanation of the science for the child, including suggested follow-on questions or projects.
  • The kits would follow a logical progression, i.e. a curriculum, that is geared to the age of the child. For instance, when a customer subscribes, they provide their child's age, and they'll start receiving kits appropriate for that age. Over time, the kits would work through topics in physics, chemistry, plant biology, animal biology, etc.
The company (let's call it Big Science Saturday, Inc., or BSS for short) would not necessarily have to create the experiments itself. There are lots of quality science materials available, and BSS could work with these existing suppliers to make minor alterations to their kits to fit within the BSS program.

Alternatively, BSS could partner with someone like Discovery Science stores to provide another revenue stream. BSS may even be able to get some startup capital from educational grant money.

I recently blogged about Dragonfly Innovation, which is developing creativity kits and marketing them through multilevel marketing techniques. There may be a potential partnership there, as well.

So, there's my idea. Someone please do it, so I can be your first customer. You can even have the name Big Science Saturday. Just do it, please.
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