MinuteBox does not box clever

MinuteBox is a new site which bills itself as a market place for people to buy and sell short snippets of advice. It’s a full-on social network with all the usual features as well as in-built video chat. You put up your problem, “experts” bid on your request, users choose their advisor and buy their advice for as little at 50 pence per hour minute. It even has a billing and rating systems (which didn’t work for me I might add).

At least that’s the theory. In reality I think this site has about a snowflake’s chance in the white hot cauldron of a collapsing star, and it’ll probably be overwhelmed by porn merchants faster than you can say “charge for online video.” Assuming they find it.

Luckily there is a silver lining. It’s great frame for a site that might work, where the business model was rather more focused. At least the relatively light-weight RecommendBox has an angle (recommendations). MinuteBox is about as targeted as a jam sandwich. It reminds me of Horses Mouth, but even there they have never gone so far as to say their mentors could ever charge for their “wisdomocracy” (excuse me while I puke).

But founder Josh Liu appears to be young and cleary smart (recent MBA from Imperial college) so I think someone should snap him and his site up ASAP and set it to work on some other problem that’s a bit easier to address than solving the entire world’s problems a minute at a time. Sorry Josh – have another go mate.

UPDATE: I’m happy to acknowledge that there may be more to this that meets the eye, though I personally remain sceptical. Buyers can set their price higher than 50p per hour (or anything) so in theory there is a market mechanism to make this site work. Josh tells me there are other sites in this space include LivePerson, BitWine, and Wengo. BitWine recently started going to partners while Wengo is going for a pay-per-call expert network. I think I am just more of a fan of mobile “find an answer to this problem” than I am of online, because online people tend to search more often than consult experts.