Entrepreneurs will increasingly emerge from within communities. They will be the founders, power-users or opportunists. They will know what their friends want, and give it to them.
When I was 17, I took a big risk. I spent £600 to book an internet gaming cafe for the day. I knew my UKT community wanted to meet and play against each other in person. I wasn’t sure if they would pay for a privilege that was free from home.
Over 750 members signed up to attend, sadly the venue could hold 80. We earned £600 profit that first event (take that apprentice!). We quickly launched a series of monthly events. These grew to include a small team helping run a 3-day saga hosting more than 240 players.
Later, major community members began selling all manner of products and services to the community. The top players sold training lessons to others. Technical types sold dedicated gaming servers (the place where people play online). Others sold custom-team/player jerseys to wear at events. Talented video editors offered to create a 15 minute avi highlight clip of your top moments.
These products and services seems silly to outsiders and that’s the point. Stuff that seems incredibly silly, if not worthless, to outsiders will hold tremendous value to insiders. This is where community intrapreneurs will thrive. They will find tiny gaps within the community and make money selling what the community wants. No competition, no advertising, just profit.
My favourite example is a company which sold chat-room bouncers. For £5 per month you would have a name placeholder. If you leave the chat room, a placeholder stays logged in holding your name until you come back. To you this probably seems madness. But 6 years later these companies are still in business.