A thought came to me the other day while I was trying to explain entrepreneurship and creating a successful product. I came across a metaphor, a tech product is like a cake. Your code, or in the case of hardware your circuit board, is your flour, your eggs, your batter. It is these basic ingredients, when done right, that make the cake taste delicious. The code, like WordPress’s motto, when it’s poetry, makes the cake taste sublime.
So the code is your foundation, but the designer is your icing. And let’s face it, when you go to the store to choose a cake, you take a look at the case and the one with the most scrumptious looking frosting wins you over. You don’t know how many eggs they used, or the quality of the flour until your take your first bite. So you choose based on the appearance. Your design is like icing, it gets people through the door, it has to be aesthetic and easy to use.
Now if we take the metaphor further, the business of a bakery is much like a web entrepreneurs business. You have your cakes, or your product, and you need people to buy. You have to run good books, have a great experience, create a brand and identity.
But as a cake-shop you hit your ceiling eventually. The most successful bakers and chefs don’t make their money by selling cakes, the sell their recipes. People buy the cookbooks, they watch their TV shows. This is a platform move. Their recipe, the information contained in their cake, becomes the value. Everyone else’s baking, from birthday cakes to anniversary specialities, is built using these few elite recipes.
It’s not by selling cakes that you make money now, as a platform you pull in your financial sustainability by keeping others afloat. Other people use your recipes and open up bakeries, a platform is an enabler and is about as sustainable as a business model as one can have. If you are helping everyone else to build businesses, they will make sure you don’t go anywhere.