Here at Tucows, we seem to have discovered sort of an obvious little formula for success. We find service areas where the incumbents are a bit fat and greedy and the customers are feeling underserved and unappreciated. We come in and…wait for it…treat the customers better. More fairly, more honestly, more respectfully, more intuitively, more humanly. We also eliminate a lot of contrived silliness and inefficiencies (e.g. overage penalties, device subsidies, twenty-page bills) that just tend to sprout up and gain acceptance over time.
We have a business-to-business domain name service called OpenSRS (aimed at hosting companies and other web businesses) that did this with Network Solutions back in the late 90s. We have a retail domain name service called Hover that is a great alternative to GoDaddy. And Ting quietly nips away at the major cellphone carriers.
One of my favorite things we hear all the time is “I wish you guys also offered (blank).” Or, said differently, “I wish you guys would do for (another industry) what you’ve done for (domains, mobile).” I love it because it’s such a clear articulation and endorsement of what we are doing. I also love it because we tend to get some good ideas!
We get a lot of requests for web hosting (from Hover customers) and cable television (from Ting customers). I’ve been having some fun this morning trying to extend the model much further than that.
For example, I think the United States Congress could use some Tinging. I can’t think of an organization that has become less effective or a constituency that is as poorly served. And it has practices like filibustering and sequestration that make telcos seem sane, productive and customer-focused by comparison.
The Ting version of Congress doesn’t have to be partisan. We can focus entirely on areas where a large majority of the public agrees on something but Congress cannot. We can identify bits of legislation that both parties seem to agree on but never get approved because they are attached to more contentious elements. We would invite on-going feedback in our forums and use big data to shape our decisions. We would work with our (broad, diverse) membership to craft bills that seem obvious and then try to pressure the real Congress to actually adopt them.
I don’t have a clear revenue model just yet. Maybe folks could pay various subscription levels to publish in the forums and peek in on deliberations. We could have cover charges for victory parties and sell t-shirts.
OK, I need to work on that one a bit. Bringing it back only slightly closer to reality (and the private sector), I’m thinking maybe Internet access, maybe a power company, maybe an airline!
Just for fun, name some service industries (or some particular evil corporate empires) you’d like to see Ting’ed.
Winner gets to run a Tucows business unit!