We all harbor ideas. Some are new, some are different, and others are improved versions of the existing ones. Just like academic researchers, who extract insights from published empirical literature and frame new hypotheses by refining the assumptions, businesses operate similarly. New business ideas either represent incremental improvements over existing ones or attempt to address them afresh. Occasionally, one of these ideas could even be a billion-dollar idea.
On 12 October 2013, I emailed a presentation to my mentor about one such potentially billion-dollar idea: a peer-to-peer lending model premised on the concept of 'chit funds' in India. At the time, I had no inkling about what 'marketplace' business models were. I also had no exposure to the emerging role of technology in the finance world, although I was aware that the banking sector was heavily investing in technology.
The next day, my mentor replied with a simple statement: 'the legal system does not allow it.' After this, I didn't revisit the presentation or make any attempt to reframe the idea. I didn't delve into research to discover that the proof of concept for P2P lending was already well-established in the western world. Back then, the P2P lending market was valued at $3 billion.
Since then, I had forgotten about my presentation and moved on. Today, however, I stumbled upon a LinkedIn post stating that the P2P market had ballooned to a size of $32 billion. This billion-dollar shift prompted me to recall my past work on the subject. I searched through my Gmail archives and retrieved the very same presentation - the raw, long-forgotten, billion-dollar idea.