The planet of therodinhoods.com was magical. Pulsating bursts of energy swept the skies. The eastern side of the planet was enveloped in a dual sunrise and sunset. The City of Enterprise had a chilly mountain peak with a snow top and a balmy beach on the seaside that was warming up nicely.
This was the planet of entrepreneurs – where everything was possible.
Goraf, the Taximan stretched a bit. He was a submarine pilot and had moved to therodinhoods.com to drive the new BubbleCab. The BubbleCab was a bubble car that elegantly floated and ferried folks to their destination by using a GPS system called “The path of least resistance”. Goraf liked to drive things and this was his new enterprise.
A dark shadow appeared behind Goraf. As Goraf turned, a rather thin and a weary man, dressed in a Vampire costume greeted him.
Goraf smiled and said, ‘Hi, I am Goraf the Taximan. Fancy a ride?’
The man said, ‘Yeah…why not?...call me Moneybags’.
Goraf said, ‘On the planet of therodinhood, everyone calls out their name followed by their profession. So, let me start again - I am Goraf the Taximan. You Sir, are Moneybags – the ?”
Moneybags said, ‘err… the VC. And why may I ask do you adopt this crazy name and profession sentence thingy?
Goraf said ‘Coz entrepreneurs have no pretense and hence we say what we do, without any hesitation.’
Moneybags entered the two seat cab and said ‘ I wanna sit in First Class. Is the first seat First Class’?
Goraf answered, ‘Nope. Everything here is economy. On rodinhood.com there is no wasteful discrimination’.
Moneybags said, ‘That’s not my style. I will still pay you double. I like to travel First Class. Even if the seats are the same, I will expect you to pretend to respect me more when I pay you double. So, it’s First Class. Capito?’
Goraf said, ‘You bet. Where are we headed’?
Moneybags growled, ‘Just float. I like seeing things, meeting people and discovering things. Usually by chance, not be design’.
Goraf said ‘Roger that. By the way, what’s with the Vampire costume? Did u just exit a fancy dress party’?
Moneybags said ‘Just be quiet and drive. I wear my mood. Usually I am a Vampire, and on some special days even a Vulture. On my worst days I dress like a Human’.
Goraf snickered and booted up the BubbleCab and set the GPS to ‘Random’. He flicked on the iMusic service and in streamed “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd.
‘You like?’ asked Goraf?
Moneybags grunted again and asked ‘So, what’s your business model? What’s this Cab business all about? Do you think you can make me an elevator…sorry floating Pitch’?
Goraf cleared his throat and said, ‘It’s a services’ business. I am the driver. I ply the cab everyday and earn virtual currency that helps me live the good life. And If I don’t drive the Cab sometimes, then also it’s ok since I work on my own terms and convenience’.
Moneybags thought he had found a fault and true to his VC nature, felt quite happy. He commented, ‘that sounds so unexciting. It’s not scalable. Service Business models are doomed because they are too people centric and have no glory’.
Before Goraf could reply, a large iScreen came to life on the dashboard of the Cab and fired up a geometric design. A computer voice spoke: ‘Thanks MoneyBags. I am the BubbleCab speaking. And I agree with you. These service guys are hopeless with no scope to grow. Look at me – I am product. I am the kind that you build once and reap the rewards forever. It’s always a better bet for entrepreneurs to be product centric and not services centric – don’t you think’?
Moneybags answered with gravity in his voice ‘Absolutely. Look at the big product successes on earth. Apple has its portfolio of gizmo toys. Oracle has its Database products and suites. Microsoft has its MSOffice Packs. And in comparison look at the poor Service guys – the Software guys pounding away on hourly rates in some mosquito land called Bang-A-lore. Recently I was stuck in an elevator with some advertising folks. They seemed suicidal. They were muttering that no one appreciated them and their clients and media companies were bashing them up. God save the services guys’.
Goraf seemed unperturbed. Comfortably Numb had ended and ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac has started playing:
Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow, Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.
Just then, a rather clear and attractive feminine voice spoke out. It was the GPS speaking.
The voice said, ‘Morons, this is the GPS speaking. We are called The Path of Least Resistance coz that’s how we are programmed. Now, let me tell you BubbleCab that folks like you are full of bunk. Products are here today, gone tomorrow. Remember the Sony Walkman? They used to be friends of the family. They got fried with the iPod. And you talk about Microsoft Office Suites? Hahaha…look at Google Documents. That’s the burial ground of MS Office. You know why? Coz the future belongs to Platforms –neither Services nor Products and that’s what GPS Path of Least resistance is – The best Platform play out there!’
Goraf seemed fed up. He spoke sternly. ‘BubbleCab don’t kid yourself. Products become obsolete and bankrupt. Never forget what happened to something called the Pager when the Mobile Phones came in. But service guys like me – who carried pagers, switched to Mobile Phones and thrived. And GPS – you think Platforms are Nirvana? Are you blind? Radio was the platform of choice of a day and time. Overnight, Television decimated that business. Again, Service folks like us who thrived as entertainers, only grew in stature when we switched from Radio to TV, while platforms perished’.
There was a meditative quiet in the Cab. Supertramp’s ‘Logical Song’ was playing:
There are times when all the world's asleep,
the questions run too deep
for such a simple man.
Moneybags was visibly excited. ‘This is an amazing find. I have a Services, Product and Platform play here. Why don’t I fund all three so that even if two fail, I will have one clear hit! That’s much better than the one-out-of-a-hundred hit ratio back home’ And, I like the way you guys detest each other. I am sure this positive competition will create a positive disruptive equilibrium equation…..’ (he trailed into another MBA speech typical of his types).
Goraf, the BubbleCab and GPS were quiet. In the sky, the Setting Sun hand shook the Rising Sun. The rays of both Suns hit the Cab and suddenly a realization dawned: Services, Products and Platforms were all value creators and equally important. It was an entrepreneur’s choice to take up any of these routes. And with diligence and enterprise, there were fortunes to be made in each realm. The Driver, driving the BubbleCab, with the help of the GPS was an amazing example of all three value creators.
Moneybags felt the unease. His mascara had begun to drip on his black vest. He tried to speak but could barely squeak.
Goraf had spotted ‘Exit’ near one of the float paths. He clicked ‘dock’ on the GPS and the BubbleCab neatly docked next to the Exit Tunnel.
‘I think you recognize this sign really well Moneybags. It was a good ride with you, but I guess we don’t need you this time’.