When I started studying Economics in Magdeburg I wanted to learn programming on the side. PHP + MySQL was the thing to do and therefore I bought myself a book and started learning it.
I thought: Ideally I have a real project to work on and so I thought about building a digital "Document Exchange Community". I was basically tired of going to the copy shop to get myself the latest scripts from my colleagues and thought: why is this not fully digital?
But why should other people upload something to my website I thought? In my mind at the time people were motivated either by money or by "fame" ... and since I did not have money I shall give them fame.
So I build a social system around the document exchange which rewards social behaviour, gives gamified top-lists and requires people to earn points before they can download other people's documents. Basically they had to say thanks.
As it turned out the Community aspect of the document exchange platform worked much better than the document exchange platform itself. I had accidently invented the (first version) of facebook a few years before facebook.
In the end about 70% of my university were using the platform every day.
I even managed to use the platform for political gains and get myself voted into the student council with the highest number of votes ever at the time ... but that is another story for another time ;)
In the end i failed to realize the potential of the platform. I even did a business case and calculated how long it would take me to bring this to more universities. It had taken me 2-3 years to reach 70% of my own university and i made around 1000-2000 EUR / months with it via advertising. Also my "growth hack" in Magdeburg was to be a Tutor and basically tell people that they can only download my solutions on UniHelp.de So I thought it will take too long to scale up significantly to other universities and started to work at Accenture as a consultant.
I made UniHelp.de "non-profit" and started a "e.V." which continued the journey for a couple more years sucessfully after I left the university.
Still when StudiVZ & Facebook came along a couple of years later i was a bit envious...