01 April 2015

Hipster Business Models -- the review

[Not an April Fools post!] 

I bought this book (subtitled "how to make a living in the modern world") because (1) I like reading business case studies (I know... awesome -- right?) and (2) I wanted to learn more about these hipster business models.

On the first, I was not disappointed to see that people sometimes succeed with crazy ideas (jellyfish aquaria!?!). The book's ~20 chapters (of varying quality) cover one case at a time. The details on how they tried one thing, then another before getting lucky are sometimes amusing, sometimes face-palming, but the overall impression is of hard work and vision leading to success.

Which leads me to reason #2: the business models, which are not always present or useful. I scanned for "fail(ure)" in the book and came up with nothing. The main idea behind a business model, of course, is that someone else can read it and use it for their own business.* Although there are some models in this book (e.g., food trucks vs restaurants, phish, verynice, etc.), it seems that many success boil down to:
  1. Unusual personality
  2. Kooky, can't-be-real idea
  3. ???
  4. Profit!
.... where ??? is often "massive media coverage." That's not a model. That's hope.

Speaking of hope, the stories really do convey passion and hope -- feelings that hipsters know a lot more about than spreadsheet-obsessed, strategically-networked, wannabe-millionaire MBA grads.

Bottom Line: I give this book THREE STARS for being entertaining and potentially educational, but an entrepreneur's time is better spent on the well-worn path to business success, i.e., work hard, look for value, listen to customers, dump failing ideas, and diversify your bets so you don't starve on the path of success failure life.

Perhaps they should have called it Hipster Business Adventures?

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