Strange Business Models: A Thought Exercise

November 28, 2012 5:07 pm

Can you think of an example where word of mouth hurts?

(the following example is from 2004, so things might have obviously changed)

Sometime back, I was thinking about these ‘override proxy’ sites – assume that your corporate proxy has a rule that blocks some sites like mail.yahoo.com. Now there are some sites like noproxy, anonymizer etc that will help you enter the url into their own website, and render the page for you. if you pay some money, they render active pages (dynamic content) too. Now, these sites have a peculiar problem.

If they become popular, the corporate proxy guys would know it, and block their site too. So for eg., noproxy would be blocked. But if they do not become popular, nobody would know about the service and hence nobody would use it.

I dont know if there is some term in marketing for this. Also would be interested in more examples.

Can you think of other strange models like this, where the most widely accepted rules of business do not hold, but backfire?

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2 Comments for “Strange Business Models: A Thought Exercise”

  1. Richard Patton

    I think it’s called “flying under the radar”. Something works so long as no one notices (or no key people/organizations notice). If they do notice, they will act and attempt shut you down one way or another.

    I’d say criminal activity fits into this category or any activity that tries to circumvent rules or restrictions. The noproxy thing fits into this. Noproxy users are circumventing bans of certain sites in your example. If the level of circumvention gets the wrong someone’s attention, they will work to snuff it out. The business model for this type of enterprise would be one or more of the following: keep a low profile to avoid detection, continually find new ways to avoid detection, make some advantageous accommodation with the entity whom they are trying to circumvent, or realize that their opportunity will be short lived and milk it while it works. Just thoughts off the top of my head.

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