Recap Of Edinburgh Talks: Lots Of Interest In New Business Models
from the a-step-forward dept
As mentioned earlier this month, I was in Edinburgh, Scotland last week, after being invited over to give a series of talks at the University of Edinburgh. It was a fantastic trip, full of interesting discussions. I gave three different talks, with the second one, being the one with the most interesting reaction. It was for a graduate-level class on “digital marketplaces” and was the first time I’ve done a detailed talk about the economic theories we discuss around here.
I was interested to see how people would react to some of the ideas, and it certainly generated a lively discussion that lived on well-past the class itself. In fact, some of that talk got dragged into the other sessions as well and even a student-run tour the next day of the Edinburgh castle (imagine discussing new business models while touring an ancient castle… surreal). However, the most interesting thing was that, for the most part, people didn’t seem to think the idea that you could make money by leveraging infinite goods to sell scarce goods was a strange idea. Almost everyone seemed to grasp that intuitively — and the majority of the discussions then focused on how such concepts could be constructively applied to a variety of different fields and offerings (with some asides to question why certain old industries have so much difficulty adapting to the changing market).
This was immensely encouraging. While I assume there were some people who disagreed with what I said and just decided to remain quiet, the fact that so many people seemed eager to take these ideas and make use of them in the real world suggests that the next generation of entrepreneurs and engineers aren’t going to be tied down by legacy ideas of trying to limit artificial scarcity. They’re going to go out into the world and build the new businesses with the new business models that finally force the old regime to change (or simply go away). It was an extremely encouraging experience. I was somewhat concerned that most of the discussion would be about defending and expanding on the concept, but instead it turned into a much more constructive conversation about how to apply it in the real world. Hopefully, that’s a sign of good things to come.
As for the other talks, the first one, given to a graduate-level entrepreneurship class, was on market research and how to actually make it useful. The last talk was on the history of Techdirt and how we (hopefully!) have been able to build a sustainable company. That one was to the local Edinburgh Entrepreneurship Club and involved a talk I’ve done a few times now. One attendee wrote up his notes on it. During the trip I was also able to meet a few local entrepreneurs, including the folks behind PeopleMaps, Hubdub and Scoopt, among others. We held a Techdirt Greenhouse idea workshop, which was quite a bit of fun, as well. It’s always interesting to see startup communities outside of Silicon Valley. The experience was somewhat similar to when I went to the Mesh Conference in Toronto last year. While the entrepreneurs there may not have quite the same resources as they would in Silicon Valley, they seem to make up for it with additional enthusiasm and determination. Overall, it was a great trip full of interesting people and interesting discussions. Thanks to Mike Clouser for making it happen.