Thu, Mar 01, 2018

Selling Shovels

During the dot-com bubble, running my first startup, one of my board members kept making a point which, at the time, I could not hear (as I was too stuck in my head):

In a gold rush, sell shovels.

It is an interesting history lesson: During the 1850’s gold rush in California, nearly none of the prospectors became rich. However, many people selling supplies to those prospectors build formidable businesses.

The same has been true again and again: The ones looking for gold, often attracted by the stories of the few who got lucky (or simply were earlier or worked harder than anybody else) typically leave broke; the folks selling shovels make a killing. Happened during the dot-com boom, happened again during the Web 2.0 era, again during the iOS/Android app gold rush and will happen again with the blockchain.

The challenge is that selling shovels is just not sexy at all – gold diggers are the ones we look up to.

Who are you and whom do you want to be?

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