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The Next Edison: How to Come Up with an Ingenious Business Idea

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It’s more daunting today to start a new business than it was a couple of hundred years ago. Before the age of mass media, most people were blissfully unaware of the lives of other entrepreneurs and would do things their own way. Today, however, every inventor hears nonstop about the brilliance of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the like. They get cold feet, thinking that they have to quit college and try to build an industry from their garage like many of these geniuses. Or they might read about huge companies like Google and Amazon with thousands of scientists and engineers under their command, all of them churning out one fancy product after another. These stories are enough to drive a newbie mad.

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You don’t need to burn the boats or have a million dollar grant in order to come up with a legitimate business idea. There is another avenue available to every aspiring magnate out there, and the process is as simple as one, two, and three.

Step one: Be alert to your surroundings

The next big thing is already in your environment. Like an archeologist, all you need to do is brush away the dirt to reveal the precious artifact hidden underneath. Opportunities arrive every single day. The first step, therefore, is to stay mindful of the present. Too many people go about their lives worrying and daydreaming about the future or regretting and reminiscing about the past. This is not the attitude of success.

How many times have you driven to work only to realize that you have suddenly arrived at your destination, almost as if the car drove itself there? During the journey, your attention was most likely floating off somewhere in space, leaving your instinct and habit to maneuver the vehicle for you. Stay away from this approach if you want to become a great entrepreneur. Every moment spent in mindlessness means that you miss big breaks in the real world and prospects that might give you the creative edge that you need. Without awareness, it is impossible to proceed to step two, or anywhere else in life for that matter.

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Step two: Identify a problem

Once you are awake and alert, you will invariably come across problems. Either people surrounding you will give voice their frustrations, or you will run into predicaments yourself. Rather than gripe about difficulties, however, be grateful, because problems are the number one source of ideas for new products.

Whenever you come across a situation where you or others are complaining, take note of it. Write it down if necessary. Then, ask yourself: “How can I develop a product or service that would fix this problem?” Train your mind to notice these inconveniences in life. Most of the time, you won’t be able to come up with good solutions. Or maybe the solution is beyond your knowledge or budget to implement.

There will come a moment, however, when one of these ideas falls within your grasp. There will be many false starts, but inspiration always strikes the longer you persist. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs spearheaded the personal computer revolution because they found a problem with the information technology industry. At the time, only rich people and government institutions could afford a computer. “How can I come up with a similar device that is both budget-friendly and small enough to be placed on top of a desk?” That was the problem they asked themselves and set about to solve.

Step three: Recognize your market

Finally, you need to identify your market. There have been many inventions set loose upon the world that fall short of success, simply because there was no market for them. A good example is the Segway, a self-balancing transportation device that promised to revolutionize the roads and sidewalks. The revolution was short-lived. No one wanted to buy it because it was too eccentric.

Market viability is important, because ultimately you’ll be spending money to design and advertise your product. This may require research, specifically about the cost of the product and whether or not your target demographic is ready to incorporate your idea into their lives. If you came up with a flying car, for example, you need to think carefully whether people would be comfortable test-driving such a thing. This may be the most difficult step since you will have to rely on intuition more than analysis, but you will save yourself a lot of pain from committing to a business venture that is doomed to failure.

The way of the future

The road to the future will always been paved not by merchants and politicians but by entrepreneurs. If you can come up with a great solution to a human problem, whatever its magnitude, then you are essentially helping the human race by improving lives and alleviating suffering. The process starts with being aware, then seeking solutions to problems, and finally ends with finding a market. The result is profit, in terms of not only finances but also the moral satisfaction that you get when you realize that you have contributed to future generations.

Being an entrepreneur is definitely a job to be taken seriously.

Have you thought about a business idea? Add a comment below and let us know if we can help you in realizing it.

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Fidelity Investments is Mining Cryptocurrency

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Fidelity Investments is a multi-billion dollar brokerage  that just so happens to be mining cryptocurrency. In fact, it has been at it for three years, using its own computers to harvest bitcoin and Ethereum.

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Profitable Experiment

CEO Abby Johnson recently told Fortune that its U.S.-based mining operation is “making a lot of money.” This comes despite running a relatively modest operation.

Hadley Stern, Senior VP of Fidelity Labs, described his company’s venture as an “experiment.”

The real reason we began mining, and still do, is to learn how the network works, how consensus works, how difficulty levels work,” he said in reference to the mining process.

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The key to profitability has been the dramatic rise in cryptocurrency over the past year. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the world’s No. 1 and 2 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and no-one else comes close.

Well Ahead of the Pack

The fact that Fidelity has been at this for three years speaks volumes about the company. Other, much bigger players are still dipping their toes in the market, but are unsure about how to proceed. Goldman Sachs is reportedly on the fence about starting a cryptocurrency trading operation, while J.P. Morgan has already begun handling customer orders for bitcoin-based instruments.

Fidelity is doing a lot more than just mining tokens. Earlier this year, it reached an agreement with Coinbase to let customers view cryptocurrency prices alongside other assets on their Fidelity homepage.

Coinbase is the world’s most funded cryptocurrency exchange with more than 7.4 million users.

Cryptocurrency Prices

The cryptocurrency market ended the week on a firm note, with bitcoin (BTC/USD) reaching a session high of $4,425.00. At press time, the index was up 1.6% at $4,368.

Ether is also trading higher against the dollar, with the ETH/USD rallying more than 3% to $305.

Ripple (XRP) lost momentum on Friday, but still managed a weekly gain of 21%.

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Chinese Government Eyeing Fresh Bitcoin Legislation?

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The Chinese government could roll out fresh cryptocurrency regulation in the coming months permitting licensed brokers to operate, based on recent information from Xinhua.

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The state-owned news publication recently revealed that the government is mostly concerned with stamping out illegal activity involving bitcoin and other cryptos. Government authorities could be planning to regulate the market by creating a licensing program with strict Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems.

The Case for AML

The need for KYC/AML protocols has long been raised by cryptocurrency proponents, especially in reference to initial coin offerings (ICOs). In response, the blockchain community has come together to create the Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT). The SAFT is both an instrument and open-source framework for token sales that vets accredited investors.

SAFT activity is quickly gaining traction, with the likes of Gizer recently issuing a presale of its ICO through SAFTLaunch.

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SAFT was officially created by Protocol Labs in close collaboration with AngelList and Cooley.

China’s Stance Looms Large for Cryptocurrency Market

Although digital assets have recovered from the China-induced flash crash of September, favorable regulations on the mainland could mean big business for bitcoin exchanges. Prior to the ban on ICOs and bitcoin brokers, Chinese investors were responsible for a quarter of all BTC trades.

According to Xinhua, China is likely to pursue a licensing program similar to Japan, a country that recently approved 11 cryptocurrency exchanges. CnLedger, a leading source of cryptocurrency news in China, recently had this to say:

“Xinhua News, official press agency of CN: Virtual currencies have become the top choices of underground economies. We shall adopt ‘0-tolerance policies’ towards crimes hidden underneath and take measures such as record-keeping, licensing, AML processes, real-name, limiting large transactions.”

Is China’s cryptocurrency ban temporary? It certainly looks that way. Regulators must already know that the ban hasn’t stopped mainland investors from buying cryptocurrencies next door in Hong Kong or Singapore. A saner approach to an all-out blanket ban is a tighter regulatory framework that will stamp out money laundering and other underground activities.

«Featured image from Shutterstock.»

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Tim Draper Has Made Over $110 Million Since 2014 With his Bitcoin Investment

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Tim Draper, the billionaire technology investor and prominent venture capitalist who has invested in some of the most successful technology startups in the likes of Coinbase, Patreon, SpaceX, Tesla, Box, FourSquare, has profited over $110 million from his investment in bitcoin less than three years ago.

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In 2014, Draper participated in the auction of 144,336 bitcoins by the US government and the US Justice Department, which were seized during the investigation into Silk Road, a dark web marketplace. Draper was granted the permission to purchase a batch of 30,000 at around $600 from the US government.

Upon securing 30,000 bitcoins, Draper told Fox Business:

“[I’m] very excited about bitcoin and what it can do for the world. Bitcoin is as big a transformation to the finance and commerce industry as the internet was for information and communications. If bitcoin were here in 2008, it would be a stability source for our world economy. Everybody should go out there and buy a bitcoin. Every investor who’s a fiduciary should at least be partially involved in bitcoin because it’s a hedge against all the other currencies. There’s a whole ecosystem being built that’s going to make commerce much easier with much less friction and safer.”

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Today, Draper’s 30,000 bitcoins are worth $129.9 million. Considering that Draper had spent $19 million purchasing the batch of 30,000 bitcoins in 2014, Draper has recorded a profit of over $110 million in less than three years.

While Draper held onto his investment in bitcoin, the US Justice Department was quick all of the 144,336 bitcoins seized during the Silk Road operation. According to various sources, the US government sold the majority of its 144,336 bitcoins at a price of $336, at $48 million. If the US government had sold its bitcoins in 2017, it would have generated an additional profit of around $573 million, as 144,336 bitcoins at today’s bitcoin price of $4,330 are worth $624.9 million.

Bitcoin price was below $350 in 2014. Today, it is over $4,330.

Since 2014, in addition to purchasing tens of thousands of bitcoins, Draper has funded some of the most successful bitcoin companies in the cryptocurrency market including Coinbase and Korbit. Earlier this year, Coinbase secured a $100 million investment at a $1.6 billion valuation, while Korbit was acquired by the parent company of a $10 billion gaming company in Nexon at a $140 million valuation.

Furthermore, Draper has not sold his stake in Coinbase and earlier this year, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, revealed that Coinbase is still at an early stage in terms of developing and scaling. Armstrong noted that it will evolve into the safest and most trusted exchange in the global market.

“Digital currencies are having their ‘Netscape’ moment. The pace of innovation has been accelerating and we are now seeing exciting projects and companies being built on top of digital currencies. We’re beginning to transition into phase three of our secret master plan. Our goal is to be the safest, most trusted and compliant, and easiest to use. Not the first to market with new assets. Especially at scale, it takes time to ensure any new asset we add is well tested and secure,” said Armstrong.

Coinbase is also one of the two exchanges in the US market apart from Gemini that is targeting institutional and retail investors by providing sufficient liquidity. As Coinbase and its flagship cryptocurrency trading platform GDAX continue evolve, Draper will position himself at the forefront of cryptocurrency innovation and disruption.

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