After recently building companies in both the B2B SaaS and CPG sectors, a common question I encounter is, “Which one do you prefer?” Both have their merits, but here are the key distinctions that have stood out to me over the past year or so:
1. Acquisition Path: Build or Buy?
When it comes to Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), a recurrent question to potential acquires is whether to construct a new product or feature in-house or to acquire a company that already offers it. Here’s how this unfolds:
Technology & B2B SaaS: Major tech companies often possess the means and innovation drive to build new products and services in-house. An M&A prospect prompts teams internally to perform a ‘build vs. buy’ analysis, weighing the benefits and drawbacks of internal development against those of acquisition. This creates more internal debate and friction, which can impede the ability to get a deal done.
Consumer & CPG: Conversely, in the consumer space, most strategic acquirers rarely construct new brands from scratch. The challenge of distinguishing a new brand in a crowded market and the associated capital expenditure makes it a daunting endeavor, compared to allocating more capital to winning brands with existing distribution. Consequently, consumer companies have a more predictable acquisition trajectory than their tech counterparts.
2. Business Model Dynamics
CPG Companies: The business model for consumer goods is remarkably linear: design a product, package it, and sell it. Although challenges arise in marketing and pricing, the general model and contours for the business remain consistent across the board.
B2B SaaS: The business model here is multifaceted, and can often feel like a game of four-dimensional chess. I know it has for me. Founders must consider product-market fit, define target customer profiles, understand pricing dynamics, deal with platform risk, and stay on top of an ever-shifting competitive environment. This landscape is populated by well-established players, emerging and well-funded startups, and copycats, all vying for market dominance. Yes, all of these things are true in the CPG world, but I think they are much messier and elevated in the software world especially since you can, and have to, iterate on the products every day.
3. Profitability Profile: Understanding the Costs
Consumer World: The financial framework for physical products has established rules that are easily comprehensible.
Technology World: At Salesforce years ago, I would hear people talk about the beauty of SaaS because it is an annuity business. You build the software, sell it, and your gross margins are high because your marginal cost to build the product again is zero. You’re just provisioning a new account. However, what sometimes gets lost here is that software companies have to keep innovating and investing in R&D to stay ahead, which can mean more people and more expense. Not to mention adding customer success people to ensure the customers are happy and using the software correctly and successfully. Add to the fact that the most talented engineers are expensive, in terms of cash and stock-based compensation, and you quickly realize that your COGs for software development may get out of hand very quickly in order just to compete and stay ahead. We saw this happen this past few years which resulted in mass layoffs from larger tech companies.
4. Brand Awareness: Social Media’s Role
CPG Companies: The world of social media has no shortage of discussions about beloved brands and products. This kind of visibility can boost brand awareness, making it exhilarating for those involved when their products become household names.
B2B SaaS: In contrast, enterprise software seldom garners the same kind of public enthusiasm. People rarely give the same amount of love to a workplace tool or solution in the same way they’d rave about their new favorite snack, shoe, beauty product, or piece of clothing. This translates to a subtler brand awareness for B2B companies.
In summary, we’re really comparing apples and oranges here and one is not better than the other, however, these are just some of the categories that have been most top of mind for me the past year or so when asked about the differences of running a CPG companies vs a B2B Software company.
Like all startup beginnings, the earliest days of TULA were filled with a lot of emotions. For me personally, some words that come to mind are things like “depressed” “anxious” and “lost”. After all, I spent about a year and a half wandering the desert trying to figure out what I wanted to work on for my next business.
During this time, I started to do a little angel investing, trading notes, and deal flow with people. In particular, I found myself most engaged with Great Oaks Capital. Just a year or so earlier, they were one of the VC firms that had issued us a term sheet for my last company Spinback and the founder, like me, went to UW-Madison.
After a while, they suggested that I work out of their office and look at companies together. We talked about how I could leverage their balance sheet and they could leverage my network and operating background to incubate or invest in great startups.
That sounded like a great idea to me.
So all of a sudden, I started ‘going to work’ as a VC of sorts. I wasn’t formally employed but at least I was more formally collaborating with other like-minded people that wanted to win and do so at the intersection of startups and technology. For a while, I debated if I should be a full-time VC, but I knew I wasn’t quite ready for that path, if at all.
We ended up getting involved in a few companies together, Olapic being one of them. It reminded me how much I missed operating.
I needed to get back to it.
So off the heels of working with the Olapic team, I started to think about the world I had just come from: e-commerce.
For context, my last software company Spinback helped online brands and retailers measure how much money they were making from Facebook and social media. This was around 2010 when Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) was just coming to life. We saw firsthand what that world looked like because some of the original D2C companies like Bonobos were our customers, and this was certainly accelerated when we merged with Buddy Media (we later sold to Salesforce). But other well-known brands and retailers were our customers too. Companies like L’Occitane, Under Armour, QVC, and more worked with us to figure out their social media monetization strategy.
And then at Olapic, the team took a similar approach but instead of leveraging Facebook, they leaned into Instagram as the primary medium to promote, sell and measure e-commerce sales.
It was clear that despite both companies exiting for good outcomes, it was still super early days for e-commerce, D2C, influencer marketing, and more.
Why not revisit this idea?
So that’s what I did.
I reconnected with all of my old customers and we discussed new ideas to help them continue to innovate and navigate their digital transformation not just as brick and mortar retailers, but as digitally native brands.
One of those customers was QVC. (thanks Chris Fralic for the intro!)
We met a few times to talk about how we can pick up where we left off, but rethink strategy around things like personalization, influencer marketing, and video. I started to get a line of sight into the product I was going to build for them as a beta customer. And then in one of my meetings, the conversation shifted.
Something along these lines emerged from QVC…
“We know the world is changing. Things are moving away from traditional media like print, radio, and TV to digital media. At QVC, we have finite shelf space with TV. Our shelf space is limited to 364 days per year, 24/7 with the exception of Christmas as our only day off. We think we can unlock new shelf space by launching brands digitally. And, we also know beauty is the hottest and fastest-growing category for us. What do you think of launching brands digitally on QVC?”
As I was listening to this, I had a flashback to a day at Buddy Media. There had been a huge spike in traffic and sales in QVC’s analytics, but it was for a brand and product that wasn’t on air. This was highly unusual since they only saw spikes in sales when brands were on TV.
So I dug in and looked at our analytics. As a reminder, we helped brands facilitate and measure how much money they were making from social media and influencers. And low and behold, there was some blogger that posted on the QVC blog about how much she loved some product. Buried at the bottom of the page amidst hundreds of comments, this one blogger ended up driving more sales than most brands saw from their TV appearances. I thought then, that if I could ever build my own omnichannel brand, and partner with a retailer like QVC, with some of these new strategies and tactics I learned over the past few years, I would do it. This stuff was just getting started. We were still so early with D2C and influencer marketing and I had a front-row seat over the past few years for what worked, what didn’t and where the puck was going across all of these brands and ecosystems.
Back to the QVC meeting…
“Dan, so what do you think? Is this something you might be interested in helping with?”
I said, “It’s a great idea. After all, I know your business well and digital pretty well, but I know nothing about beauty. However, I know someone that does. Let me run this by him to get his take. Maybe we all get lunch to talk about it.”
I went back to the office on 60th and Madison.
Now, during that time working out of the Great Oaks office, I had the chance to meet other people in the office.
There was another person that was doing his own private equity investing. He’s been able to do this because of a previous success he had as one of the founding partners of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics which later sold to Estee Lauder. By that time, Ken Landis and I had gotten to know each other pretty well. I was literally working out of his office and at his desk while he was out of the city. I also got to hear his story first hand and hear how he was CEO of the cosmetic division of a publicly-traded fashion house and then later, a co-founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
I debriefed him on the meetings I had and a lot of what we discussed resembled the earliest days of Bobbi Brown. Similarly, a lot of what we discussed also resembled the best-in-class customers of mine that were the most successful with digital marketing.
We believed that for a digitally-native brand to work in the environment we were in, and actually break through all the noise and get to $100mm+ in sales, a few things needed to be true:
We needed to be digitally native. As I mentioned, I lived and breathed this world for years working with some of the best brands and retailers in the world helping them invent their social media strategies at a time when “Facebook likes” were all the rage. Moreover, my first company in high school was a D2C e-commerce site selling urban clothing wholesale. I knew how to do this part. I could also build our first website and save us some money. Check
We needed to understand beauty. I heard countless stories from Ken about the beauty and fashion industry. There were so many nuances that people just overlooked. Basic and obvious things that, if not accounted for early, could kill a business. Ken had this part covered through and through. Check.
We needed to plan for retail. I saw the early days of brands trying to be D2C only and quickly understood that it doesn’t really work. At least not all of the time. For this type of product and category, we always knew we needed to work with third-party retailers. Not just QVC, but brick and mortar too. We would need to develop our product assortment, margin profile, and cost structure to let us work with retailers like Ulta and Sephora. We knew what was important to them and what it took to work with them. We believed that, just like the streaming services all vying for their own unique content, retailers would also be evolving their business to curate special, semi-exclusive brands. So we figured we could start with QVC as our first motivated retail partner, but parallel process plans with brick and mortar, while also standing up our own D2C channel. Check.
We needed to be smart about our capitalization strategy. This was not a tech company. This was going to be a brand, turbocharged by technology. There is a difference. And that difference matters a lot especially when we thought about financing and valuations. We always anticipated a forever home for TULA to be a company like P&G and we understood how they thought about multiples in the space. We did not ever want to get ahead of our skis. So we self-financed the business to start with some friends and family coming on board too as investors.
As we worked through the must-have list, it was clear we had enough of the pieces in place to give this a real shot and keep digging in.
I shelved my tech startup.
I was now building a skincare company.
There were a few more things on our list of ‘must-haves’ that we did not have yet.
We needed the idea! We had no idea what the concept would be and even if we did, it wouldn’t be authentic. We needed help there. We weren’t going to spend our time building a new company if we didn’t think it had a real shot of positively impacting people’s lives.
We needed a credible, experienced partner that could help us develop the concept and business in a way that was set up for long-term success, with real science behind it. In short, we thought we needed someone with a medical and scientific background who could bring insights and perspectives we felt we were missing. In addition, we wanted someone that could relate to our targeted customer base. Ideally, someone that was a young mom, with one or two kids, running around multi-tasking and operating as a modern-day superwoman. And lastly, for icing on the cake, we wanted someone that had some commercial savviness or better yet, had some media background. We knew at some point, if we did our jobs well, that we would quickly evolve from our digital-only channel to an omnichannel brand that appeared on TV too.
Where the hell were we going to find this unicorn?
I asked my wife, Amy, for her thoughts.
While she is a modern-day superwoman, unfortunately, she was not a mom at the time nor did she have a medical background. So we’d have to go elsewhere.
A few weeks later she sends me a link.
It’s a video of the Bethany Frankel show.
I watch it and sure enough, I see this well-spoken, highly knowledgeable gastroenterologist talking about gut health.
I think to myself, she is the missing piece. We need to meet with her.
I quickly shared the link with Ken and after maybe a 30-second conversation we both agreed we should try to meet her and see if she might be interested and willing to help us determine if there is an opportunity here.
I sent her an email.
She responds almost immediately and we set up a time to speak on the phone. A few days later, standing outside the New York Times building, I gave her a ring. We hit it off almost immediately. When we spoke, she mentioned that she had already been working on her own beverage line that was focused on digestive health using probiotics and superfoods. She already had a prepared mind, and work in progress, for her own consumer packaged goods company. I thought this was perfect!
Next step… we had to meet in person.
A few days later she came by the office to meet with me and Ken. We talked about how we might be able to apply some of her thinking and work but for a skincare line instead of beverages. She shared stories about how some of her healthiest and most radiant or glowing patients, all took probiotics. There indeed was something here but we needed to investigate further. And sure enough, as we’re deep in thought contemplating this wacky idea, she takes out a few pieces of paper from her bag. She pulled out a recent article that was written by the American Academy of Dermatology that claimed “Dermatologists encouraged by early research showing link between probiotic use and clearer skin in acne and rosacea patients.” From there, we did a bit more homework and diligence in the area and we were sold.
We were going to create a health and beauty company using probiotics and superfoods in skincare products.
We started to meet more regularly.
In one of those meetings, we needed to figure out what the hell we were going to call this thing.
Roshini showed up with a list of names.
Sure enough, on the list was TULA, the Sanskrit word for balance. Healthy and beautiful on the inside and out! It seemed fitting since we’d be the first to repurpose probiotics for the largest organ in and on our body. Our skin.
In another meeting, we picked out some packaging concepts and the color. There was a certain blue that Roshini liked. Ken didn’t have a strong preference because he is color blind. This has been an ongoing joke in every creative meeting we’ve ever had.
So there we were, with the name, the concept, the first SKUs, a launch strategy, and a diverse but highly complementary founding team.
There’s a whole lot more to the story and perhaps one day I’ll tell it. Like one time I had to work at the factory for two days straight inspecting, hand by hand, 10,000 cleansers otherwise we would have been out of business before we launched. Or the time we thought we completely bombed on our first on-air QVC appearance, only to have sold out. Or the time we beat a patent and copyright troll at their own game. Or the time I fired myself as CEO because I realized there are other people out there better suited than me to run a women’s beauty company day to day, plus, I really missed building software. See Troops.ai.
The list goes on.
People often ask me, “what’s the best piece of career advice you have ever received?”
My answer is almost always the same..
Surround yourself with people better than you, that you look up to and want to learn from. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
I think Tula is a perfect example of me heeding my own advice. From the beginning, I tried to find people better than me, to help make this crazy idea a reality. And you know what? It worked.
None of this would have been possible without the team that made it all a reality that did the hard work, day in and day out. To each and every one of you, whether you are at TULA now or were a part of our journey in the past…thank you. You are the reason we are here.
To Ken and Roshini, we’ve come a long way!
And now, TULA will be able to continue to thrive and grow with P&G as a partner and continue the mission we started just seven years ago.
Starting a company is a daunting task and taking the first step sometimes seems impossible. I’ve encountered a number of people with the dilemma of “I know what I want to do but I don’t know how to start.” And rightfully so. Taking an abstract idea from thought to fruition is one of the hardest things to do. It’s why the failure rate of new business endeavors is so high. It’s also why most investors value people and execution of ideas above anything else. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but being able to execute on a vision is an entirely different story.
So how does someone actually start a business? The great thing about starting a business is that it requires creativity. Sure, you need to be creative in formulating the idea, but I think what goes overlooked often is the fact that you need to be even more creative with specifics around how you start the business. It doesn’t really matter what industry you are in. If you can be creative at both developing the idea and launching the business, I think you’ll have greater chances of success.
Here are a 7 examples of how you might consider starting a business.
1. Build a specific solution, for a specific problem, for a specific client. Most doctor’s offices confuse me. Not only do they confuse me, they drive me crazy. When I walk into a doctor’s office today I look over the counter and see endless shelves of manila envelopes. There must be thousands of sloppy, handwritten notes just sitting there unprotected in those color coated manila envelops. Every time I walk in I have the urge to walk up to the doctor and say, “give me $100,000. I’ll build you a digital solution for this mess and you will get lifetime rights to the technology. I’ll get to sell this to other doctors but you will get to use this technology forever.” If you see a specific problem that you think you can address, you might be able to find one client who will fund development. You will give them lifetime rights to the technology and in return, they will pay you and let you resell the solution to others.
2. Sell now, build later. Sometimes the best way to go about starting something is to first understand whether or not it makes sense to start. The best way to do this is to sell or pitch an idea to perspective clients before you even have a working or tangible product. When I was in college, I told the owner of a bar that I wanted to host an event on behalf of my marketing firm. I told him I was going to donate money to the charity I’ve worked with in the past. I told him I was going to bring in my entertainment. I told him I was going to create a marketing campaign. These were all lies. I didn’t have any of these things. I didn’t have a “marketing firm.” Well, he agreed to the event and I built up all the necessary pieces after it was sold through.
3. Go back to school. Do you know how much intellectual capital exists in academic universities? That’s why they are called academic institutions. They are pillars of knowledge and these pillars often facilitate cutting edge research. But sometimes these new technologies are never designed with the goal of commercialization in mind. When I was in school, I had a professor working on technology that could literally change the world. He had no interest in bringing this technology to market. He only cared about being published in some research paper. When I asked if I could take the technology to market, he was ecstatic. I expect there are others out there that have great innovations but have no interest in building a business with them. But maybe you do. Physically going back to school to explore these opportunities could potentially lead to the start of a new endeavor. It could be a school visit. It could be a school enrollment.
4. Combine and conquer. Sometimes two heads are simply better than one. It’s tough work staying motivated or even getting motivated in the first place to create a business. When you team up with someone and bring on a partner, you might find that a little bit of motivation and encouragement are enough to move the needle in terms of execution. Having a partner might also free up some burdens so you can focus on more pressing issues. And just having concerted dialog with someone else, who has the same directional goals, could also be that missing factor needed to start a new business.
5. Take money, make money. There are certain companies and industries that require a large capital investment to get started. For example, it would be nearly impossible to build an alternative energy company without some form of initial capital investment. These funds would most likely go towards research and development or manufacturing. In some cases, you may need to just go out and ask people for money in order to fund the development of the first iteration of your product or technology. But maybe you aren’t building an energy company and maybe a quick infusion of $5,000 to $10,000 from friends and family might be enough to kick start your company.
6. Leverage a distressed asset. People make great livings flipping houses (or used to anyway). They buy cheap and sell high. Many times people will buy cheap, fix up the house and bit, and than sell high. This is no different with businesses. There are plenty of distressed assets and companies out there that would love to be acquired for peanuts even though there is still huge potential and room for growth.
7. Don’t be glamorous. I heard a story once of a guy who sold hot dogs for a living. He made about $800k a year selling hot dogs and did so by setting up two hot dog stands at the entrances and exits of Home Depot stores. Not exactly an exciting job but it definitely pays the bills. There are probably a dozen other ways you can turn a low level job into a meaningful, high income producing business.
I’m sure this list can go on for quite a while, but what methods of launching a business have you seen?
A lot of people recently asked me about internet based businesses. Things like: How to start a blog or website, what is twitter, how to use twitter, how to increase followers and traffic, how to register a domain name, what is a domain, how to create a mailing list, how to use analytics, what is a good number of followers, how to obtain affiliates, how to create partnerships, etc.
These things may all seem trivial to anyone in the tech space but to those just entering, they seem non trivial, foreign perhaps, but very attainable.
Simply put, the evolving web has made things easy. The barriers of entry to creating an online business are much lower, but creating a long-lasting business under this premise is much harder.
It seems to me like this is one thing that is severely overlooked these days. I’m all for starting new projects and businesses, but if you plan to do so, you should also recognize that you are most definitely not the only one.
One way to overcome this obstacle, and perhaps the best way (without knowing how to write code) is to start a business with a very niche focus. If you are successful, you can certainly expand your focus, but to start, you probably want to try to build a loyal following first. And to do that takes hard work.
In the beginning, try to be the very best at something very niche. That’s what I would do.
Take it from this guy (Gary Vaynerchuk). He certainly has.
I heard a story recently that went something like this…
(This is a true story, although the actual conversation below is fake)
A guy calls a reputable consultant for advice. This consultant also happens to be an Ivy League Law School Alumni, successful investor, and successful entrepreneur. Let’s just say he knows a thing or two about business.
The call goes something like this:
Caller: Hey Mr. Consultant. I got a great business that I need help with.
Consultant: Ok, what kind of business?
Caller: I sell hot dogs. I have 2 hot dog carts.
Consultant: You sell hot dogs?? Why the Fu*# are you wasting my time?
Caller: Well, I grossed over $800k last year from just two hot dog stands.
Consultant: Wow, ok. Now you have my attention…
Now, you can only imagine what the next obvious question is…
Consultant: …where are your hot dog stands located?
Before I give you the answer, just think about this for a second or two. This guy, in a cash business, made over $800,000 gross profit from selling hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs!
So you might say the hot dog stands were located in a city. Maybe Times Square. You might say the hot dog stands were located in a mall or perhaps some football stadium. Maybe a baseball stadium.
If you guessed any of these you’d be wrong.
The reality is, the hot dog stands were located in front of…
Crazy? Not really, and think about that for another second.
From the minute Home Depot opens to the minute it is closed (around 7am – 11pm depending on the local store) subcontractors and construction workers are in and out buying materials, tools, and other wonderful construction accessories for their jobs. Middle class, blue collar workers who are looking for a quick bite to eat, and what could be a better snack then a $2.00 hot dog with perhaps a $1.00 can of soda?
Moral of the story here?
If you are thinking about the next, new big idea, just remember this guy. He took a very old idea but gave it a new twist. A boring idea perhaps, but this guy will never go hungry.
This October will mark my 9th consecutive year as an emergency health care professional. In all those years, the most important thing I learned (besides teamwork) is that assessing a situation correctly and completely could literally be the difference between life and death. The “assessment” is the most critical aspect when saving lives, treating the injured, or tending to the ill. Emergency health care or health care in general, is the most seriousness business of all (other than war), and within this business, great “assessment” skills are absolutely necessary.
Now think about your own life for a second. Think about your job, your company, your family, your significant other. How could you improve any one of these things if you spend a little more time observing or assessing, before you act or do anything? Think about the job of a manager, quant, marketer, or salesman? As an example, how much better could a salesperson be if they spent more time understanding a business’ needs, before they blindly push a product onto a prospective client?
With that in mind, consider the following few paragraphs:
As a salesman, you must perform a quick but thorough assessment to identify a prospect’s needs and to provide proper business solutions. Prospect assessment includes many steps and is the most complex skill that you will learn in the field. To make the task easier, it is helpful to identify and discuss the key components and skills of prospect assessment before you learn the entire process.
As you begin your assessment, you must gather and record some key information about the prospect. You will also need to obtain and evaluate the prospect’s vital signs of their business. The failures, struggles, or needs and the history of what occurred before and since you arrived are key pieces of information that you will have to obtain by asking a series of questions. You must also learn about the prospect’s past history and overall health of the business.”
Gathering Key Prospect Information
You will need to know which questions to ask and how to ask them. By using your deductive powers, you will be able to interpret the meaning and implications of your findings and the information that you have gathered. When assessing the prospect, you will have to look, listen, feel, and think.
Point is, you can’t possibly solve a problem or address an issue, without fully understanding the problem in the first place. In health care, this could possibly mean death. In business and in relationships, this could possibly mean failure.
Think, assess, and only after, act.
“As a rescuer, you must perform a quick but thorough assessment to identify a patients needs and to provide proper emergency care. Patient assessment includes many steps and is the most complex skill that you will learn in the OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) course. To make the task easier, it is helpful to identify and discuss the key components and skills of patient assessment before you learn the entire process.
As you begin your assessment, you must gather and record some key information about the patient. You will also need to obtain and evaluate the patient’s vital signs. The injuries, illnesses, or symptoms and the history of what occurred before and since you arrived are key pieces of information that you will have to obtain by asking a series of questions. You must also learn about the patient’s past medical history and overall health.”
“Gathering Key Patient Information
You will need to know which questions to ask and how to ask them. By using your deductive powers, you will be able to interpret the meaning and implications of your findings and the information that you have gathered. When assessing the patient, you will have to look, listen, feel, and think.”
(Outdoor Emergency Care, Comprehensice Prehospital Care for Nonurban Settings, 4th Edition)
Starting a business is very hard. In a matter of 24 hours your emotions can range from thinking that your business will be the next Google, to thinking how moronic you were for even contemplating the idea in the first place.
In order to start a successful business, I believe you need two components above all else.
“How should you behave? Well, do things in a group. Don’t do things by yourself. Groups are stronger, groups are faster. None of us is as smart as all of us…..” – Eric Schmidt, CEO Google.
2. The Entrepreneurial Snowball Effect
Beyond having a team, you need a group of people that can feed off of each other. People that together, build continual momentum regardless of the challenges by feeding motivation to and from others in the group. If one person starts some momentum, others can build and build upon it until slowly, that once “idea” begins to grow into reality.
From my experiences, most people have great ideas but fail to see the execution through all the way. And the few that do see execution through quickly stop at the sight of any real obstacles (I’ve been guilty of both in the past).
If your lucky enough to find the right team with an entrepreneurial snowball effect, take your idea and just build something.
I recently finished reading What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis.
This book is important for so many reasons, but the most important point of the book is that fundamentally, business in general is changing. Economics, supply and demand, manufacturing, education, fashion, government, finance, all of it is changing and unless you understand these changes and adopt a newer way of thinking, you will be in for a rude awakening when you realize everything you learned in Econ 101 no longer applies.
From Jeff’s Book:
“Many industries built their value on scarcity. Airlines, Broadway theaters, and universities had only so many seats, which meant they could charge what they wanted for them. They were scarce and thus more valuable. Newspapers owned the only printing press in town and you didn’t, so they could charge you a fortune to reach their audience. Shelf space in grocery stores was limited, so manufacturers paid for the privilege of selling their boxes there. Television networks had finite number of minutes in the day with only so many eyeballs watching, so advertisers competed to buy their commercial time. Scarcity was about control: Those who controlled a scarce resource could set the price for it.
Not anymore. Want to sell your product to a targeted market? You don’t need to fight for a spot on the shelf in 1,00 stores; you can now sell to anyone in the world online. Looking for a dress everyone else doesn’t have when everyone else shops in the same mall? Today you can find no end of choice only a click and a UPS delivery away. Don’t want to buy The New York Times on the newsstand or pay for access to WSJ.com for news on your industry? There are countless sources of the same information. Even if The Journal reports a scoop behind its pay wall, once that knowledge is out – quoted, linked, blogged, aggregated, remixed, and emailed all over – it’s no longer exclusive and rare. It’s no longer possible to maintain that scarcity of information.”
As the world becomes flat we all become equalized and democratized. Success requires newer business models, stronger brands, and deeper focus. Google is only the beginning.
“My name is Jamie Varon and I’m living in Danville, CA (if you haven’t heard of it, no worries) right now, hoping to move into San Francisco soonish, rather than laterish. The sole purpose of this site is simple: I want to get hired at Twitter and the only way to stand out in this competitive job market is to do something unique.”
I’ve heard many stories lately from people my age that have either lost their job, are about to lose their job, or haven’t found a job in the first place.
Something tells me that simply submitting resumes online and wearing a suit to interviews (if your lucky) isn’t going to cut it anymore. Time to think way outside the box and do something that demonstrates your expertise in your field. In the case of the recent graduates, many of us haven’t had enough work experience to substantiate a worth while track record.
So what to do?
Things I might do if I wanted to be in…
Finance: Invest a small amount of money and demonstrate that you have the ability to earn good returns. Percentages not dollars. See Stocktwits
Real Estate: Find a building you think is worth buying. Asses its value. Record its cash flow. Demonstrate why and how you know this is a good deal in a mini business plan.