Deciphering an Industry
When thinking about potential areas for entrepreneurship and development, the most natural areas to think of are those where doing something today is hard. When I try and consider where opportunities might be, I look for things at work where I see friction on a daily basis. Of course, there are reasons all these market inefficiencies haven’t already been ironed out by eager young hipsters wearing flannel or some shit. Part of it is just stickiness – every person’s wasted dollar is somebody else’s paycheck. However, a large part of it is the degree to which the back ends of these industries are completely shrouded.
Industry-specific knowledge is one of the very few types of knowledge that is really just not taught in a classroom, but is picked up on the job. There’s not really an abundance of resources that one can turn to in order to get a good background on how things actually work, on the ground, in a given industry. For example, the relationship between suppliers and retailers at various levels of scale – how do standard contract types work? How are the logistics arranged? What are the standard software sets?
I want to explore the practicality of a web resource that will blow wide open the mysteries of different industries. There are a few audiences that I think would find it extremely interesting – potential entrepreneurs looking to break into an industry, students looking to find a job in it, and professional services types looking to serve their clients better. If you believe that the future of the business world is fragmentation, this isn’t the worst audience in the world.
However, it does present the obvious issue of paying for it. Generally the companies who are interested in an industry will just hire an industry expert, either as a project/team leader or as an external consultant. They have no interest in something more oriented towards doing it yourself. And the students and entrepreneurs who would find this REALLY useful aren’t the best audience to pay for it.
However, there is definitely some social value to making this information more widely available. Perhaps rather than a company, this is a book idea. The overview of retail, at least, has not been written.