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If you were starting a company today, what would it be?

Once upon a time August was a pretty quiet month.  Then something changed and now it means America getting downgraded, stock markets tanking and search engines companies turning to manufacturing for growth. The future has become a very murky place. In this context I asked some of the most interesting people I know what sector they would start a company in today and why…

Paul Kenny, CEO of (the leading daily deals site in Middle East)
I would be setting up a mobile payments platform in the Middle East that links cash to mobile to paying for regular products in the Middle East.

Alexis Bonte, CEO of erepublik (one of Europe’s most interesting browser-based online game)
Ecommerce on Facebook because it has not been done well yet.

Damien Mulley, Mulley Communications (social media advisor and purveyor of fine food)
I was going to say mobile but I wonder is it more the tech/infrastructure for presentation of content/data on mobile and non-mobile devices?

Dominic Williams, CEO of Fight My Monster (leading online game for boys in the UK)
Power/fuel tech. If I couldn’t get to play around with thorium reactor tech (let’s face it, needs a lot of money) probably look at algae-based bio-fuels.

Eamonn Carey, EMEA Director for Kiip (US startup delivering rewards from brands to gamers)
Mobile education – the Motorola/Google deal is a pretty interesting one in terms of Android, but much more important are the rumours around Arima and others creating a sub-$100 handset. I think a one handset per child initiative is not a million miles away, and is likely to be a greater success than OLPC. The opportunities for collaboration and education on these handsets is unbelievable and has massive revenue and developmental potential on a global scale.

John Collins, Assistant Business Editor, Irish Times (the paper of record in Ireland)
Something that combines mobile – whether apps, hardware or more likely a combination of the two – with my love for the outdoors and adventure activities.

Noel Toolan, Branding Consultant (works with private equity and governments on international branding projects)
I’d be starting a company focussed on helping the “big brands” monitor & make sense of how they are being viewed & talked about by “opinion leaders” in the blogosphere.

Sam Collins, CEO of (startup making events management software)
I would be building a company around batteries, water or robots. If you take a step back for a minute, I think the smartest people innovating in the social and consumer web space are no longer making a proportional impact on life, society and the overall advancement of the our civilization. It’s time for the businessmen to take over and the entrepreneurs to go back to the front-line.

Rodolfo Rosini, CEO of Namaste (user-generated gaming platform startup)
Would work to fix 2 markets: 1) Location based services. Foursquare is useless but the market is interesting. 2) Online dating. Match disrupted traditional agencies but at the core its the same business model and does not scale into your social graph. Want to fix that. People who want to fuck is a big market.

Sean Blanchfield, Founder of various games companies I would jump into smart/connected TV. This is very young area, lacking a leading software platform, but represents an enormous future computing market that will be dominate the living room from birth. 600M smart TVs are estimated to be in homes by 2014, and the field is

wide open right now for developers, who can jump in to establish apps, services and a leading brand.

Cathal Gaffney, CEO of Brownbag Films (Oscar-nominated animation studio)
In terms of trends, I see a definite move of East moving West and what was once an outsource ‘service studio’ is now an ambitious, well-resourced competitor. The DVD market is quickly going the way of Letraset and Zip drives and producers have yet to monetise on digital distribution which is frustrated by the unacceptable cultural acceptance of pirated copyright.  Children’s television has ultimately become a shop window for selling toys and with a number of notable exceptions the business is increasingly driven by brand managers and licensing consultants not creatives. Despite this, television remains the dominant source of content for all children and it is likely to remain so in the short term.

Mark Little, CEO of Storyful (social news curation platform)
Humus and falafel franchise – the fast-food of the future.

Wil Harris, CEO of (the largest online video network in UK)
Mobile is an area that is incredibly exciting right now. Everything is up for grabs, from the human-phone interface (fingers? voice? touch? buttons?) through to the software (apps, music services, media, games) through to the infrastructure (location services, messaging services, voice and web services).  A company can start in any of those areas and create value incredibly quickly with the right product.  If I was starting from scratch today, understanding the mobile world would be my top priority.”

Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation and Startup Britain
It may sound boring but I’d stick right here with what I’m doing. More people are starting a business than ever before and we are here to help with products, funds, support etc. It’s a great market to be in and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I guess if you really, really forced me to exit small business, I might get into the food sector as we all need it and I like consuming it!

Jude Gomila, Co-Founder of HeyZap (the leading mobile games discovery company)
Biotech, biodata, biohacking – its open, fast growing market cap, exciting applications, no one has become the Apple of biotech yet or brought the technology to the masses yet.

Ronan Perceval, CEO of Phorest (biggest salon appointments software company in UK)
Food technology. We can find alternative energy sources. But food is tricker.

John Kennedy, Editor of Silicon Republic (leading tech news site)
If I was starting a company today I would be looking into machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies like sensors and computers that talk to other computers. This could also mean the internet of things. Why? Well, with IPv6 about to be made real, it will mean a limitless supply of IP addresses for a limitless number of devices. The next big thing could be the invisible web.

What do you think?