Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Barnyard of Entrepreneurs 2: Passionate Disruption

The animals were atwitter.  The final night of Disrupt! Barnyard was about to start.  
Rooster was nervous.  He had been asked to judge but felt out of place.  Last year's winner of the business plan contest had been an app that reminded cows to chew their cuds.  Rooster knew more than he cared to about cows, but he was pretty sure he couldn't have dreamed up that business in a million years.
Fortunately, Horse and Big Pig were also judges.  Horse had written a thousand articles about tech and knew his stuff.  Pig had made his name last year investing with two ducks in an ethanol plant.  ("Corn wants to eat the world" had become an important investment thesis at Big Pig's firm.)  Maybe Rooster would luck out and one of the final plans would involve corn.
Black Rat was up first. The crowd settled back, ready to be dazzled. "Hello everyone."  Rat looked nervous.  The crowd cheered, even the crows in back who could be counted on for a heckle or two as the night went on.  "I am a serial entrepreneur and tonight..."
Rooster stopped listening.  "Serial entrepreneur?" he whispered to Horse and Big Pig.  It didn't seem that long ago he had been chasing Rat out of the shed with the fermented corn feed crumble.  
"Well," Horse explained.  "He tried to launch a d-Con GPS tracking app last year.  It never got funded, but he must be counting that as one."
"And tonight's business plan," Pig added.  "That's two.  Two is 'serial' in anyone's book."  Pig had a habit of saying everything like he was the smartest animal in the barnyard.
Horse forced a laugh.  "I've written a thousand articles and no one has ever called me a serial journalist.  Rooster has been running the coop for a decade and he's not a serial manager."
Big Pig snorted.  "Serial murderer.  Serial philanderer.  Serial entrepreneur.  It makes sense if you think about it."
The three turned back to Black Rat who was explaining his latest app.  Rooster was appalled.  Rat was proposing a service that encouraged the barnyard animals to post lies about each other, anonymously.  The lies would be kept on line for two milking cycles and then be permanently deleted.  But Rat said "permanently" in a funny way, like an old piece of fermented corn feed crumble had risen in the back of his throat. "It's really all about community," Rat explained.  
Pig leaned in, fully absorbed.  He hadn't expected anything quite this good.  Rooster raised his wing.  Something was very off.
Rat saw Rooster and paused.  "How did you come up with this idea?" Rooster wondered.  Rat smiled.  "Well, it's always been my dream to be an entrepreneur."  Then he turned back to the crowd. "The world needs entrepreneurs!"  The audience erupted.
Horse smelled the problem.  "Wait, Rat.  What problem is this app designed to solve?"
Rat paused again.  He seemed a little confused.  One of the crows in back cawed.  "Let him present!"  Rat found his bearings. "Thanks, but I think I understand what the judge is asking."  He turned to Horse.  "I have a passion for this app," he said.  Then his tail rose as he emphasized, "I am very passionate about this entire app space."
Horse looked at Rooster for help.  Rooster looked at Big Pig.  Sensing their discomfit, Big Pig put on his very important Big Investment voice.  "Thanks, Rat.  Great answers," he said.  Pig knew how to handle young technology talent.  "Can you tell us how big the market is for this service?"
Rat beamed.  He'd come fully prepared for this question.  "It's everyone in the barnyard!" he exclaimed.  "Everyone has a secret ax to grind."  Then he went for the coup de grace: "My disruptive new service is about community and transparency!"
The Disrupt! audience roared. The crows hooted agreement.  Big Pig leaned back, satisfied.  "This kid really knows his stuff," he whispered to Horse and Rooster.  "I could get passionate about this space, too."
Rooster looked at Horse.  Horse looked at Rooster.  Both had the identical thought at the identical moment: By comparison, last year's cud-chewing app was looking better all the time.