atheorist (atheorist) wrote,

calibration as a business model

A startup needs to do a couple things. First and most importantly, it needs to create some value for the customer. Subsidiary second and third goals are to capture that value (the startup wants to be "sticky") and to create some sort of barrier to other businesses entering.

Calibration is a process of doing something moderately easy, just a little finicky, "forward" many times, in order to gain the ability to "magically" do it backward. For example, if you have a balance, some gram weights and a wine glass, then you can pretty easily fill the wine glass with 10 grams of wine and take a picture. If you repeatedly, and carefully do this for 12, 14, 20, 100 grams, then you can build a database of images of wine glasses tagged with how many grams of wine are in it. Then you could use that database to go backward from an image to the information of much wine is in it.

First: The "magical" quality of the backward direction fits well with creating some value for the customer.

Second: By offering the calibration as a service, the startup might well be able to capture that value.

Third: The expense of creating the database is actually good, because it forms a (small) barrier to other businesses entering.

To use this "calibration" template to generate ideas for businesses, you need find a problem that people actually want solved, that is relatively easy to do "backward" - which is still hard, but perhaps easier than the initial problem of "an idea for a business". Perhaps one could accumulate a personal library of techniques like this calibration template, something like a personal, business-focused variant TRIZ.

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