Internet businesses you couldn’t make up… because someone already has

8 Aug

The world wide web is home to a bewildering number of start-up ventures, some of which are almost too weird or innovative to be believed. Here is a selection of some of the ones that stand out.

1. Hong Kong-based online trading portal ‘8 Securities‘ allows you to see your colleagues’ and competitors’ previous trades, as well as starting conversations with them through instant messaging. It tries to re-create the trading floor atmosphere via cloud computing, where an inside tip at an opportune moment could help you bag that successful trade. It allows access to both the Hong Kong and US stock markets in HKD, CNY, or USD.

2. For those looking for an online source of prescription drugs (not recommended), online trading forum ‘the Silk Road’ enables security for dealers and buyers. Bloggers had noticed the phenomenon even in 2011, but a recent story by the New Scientist estimated almost $2million worth of ‘Bitcoins’  have been earned in trades of drugs and other black-market goods. Users connect anonymously via the ‘Tor Network’ and conduct trades which can be traded in for dollars on the site’s currency exchange, ”Mt. Gox.’

3. Want to pass an algebra or chemistry test solely by watching online videos? Curious as to the concepts of Python programming, MIT postgrad research on aeronautics, or a new take on late Renaissance painter Caravaggio? Khan Academy contains an archive of over 3,300 videos on a wide range of subjects. It even contains a series on preparatory lessons for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and SATs.

4. Clickworker, the ‘crowd-sourcing platform,‘ takes all personal contact out of the recruitment process. It recruits its employees online, via assessment tests in basic grammar and spelling, then assigns them to proof-reading and search and research tasks. The system operates with rigid corporate efficiency, and some of the documents concerned are ‘confidential;’ those thinking they can make easy money should be forewarned.

5. The digital attempt to re-stage the ‘water-cooler’ conversation, Yammer, is an online chat room that companies can subscribe to for a subscription fee. Many corporate intranets – internal IT systems – are often accused of being patronising or too technical. This model has been designed to promote productivity, aggregating company databases for all employees to access, allowing upload of large files which can be edited in real time via online conversations. All you need is your company email address, and you can access it from any internet connection.

6. Another cloud computing innovation: Spiceworks, the online IT help department.If the local IT consultant is busy three floors up, and your computer is going into meltdown, these tech experts are there to help. Technical vendors can offer informed advice on the best new products available.

7. And finally... for those who want to start up their own online venture on the cloud, http://www.cloudtradingtechnologies.com/ lets you bid for your own vacant cloud computing space, to build an application of your choice. Or, set up shop on cloud computing host, www.enomaly.comImage

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