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An alternative to the Uber and Airbnb model

In Tech in Asia, Sangeet Paul Choudary, author of Platform Scale, shows entrepreneurs how to make emerging business models work

Malavika Velayanikal / Tech in Asia 

Sangeet Paul Choudary, author of Platform Scale. Image via Tech in Asia
Sangeet Paul Choudary, author of Platform Scale. Image via Tech in Asia

for X, for Y, Facebook for Z. These business models of the internet age have become all too familiar. But do we really understand what makes some of them click and not others? Why do so many that try the same model in different verticals – from a media website to a home services platform or food delivery app – risk biting the dust?

It’s because the platform model is trickier than it appears. Many entrepreneurs jumping into it don’t have a full grasp on the fundamentals underpinning the success of a YouTube or a Twitter or an Instagram. They look at the superficial features of a LinkedIn and adopt this, that, or the other feature.

Sangeet Paul Choudary, entrepreneur-in-residence and author of Platform Scale, likens it to an old Indian tale about six blind men and an elephant. Each one of them feels a different part of the elephant and comes up with his version of the object. The one who holds the trunk thinks it’s a snake; another one with his arms around the elephant’s leg describes it as a pillar; a third blind man with his palms on the side of the elephant visualizes a wall, and so on.

Choudary, who is the co-chair of MIT’s and an advisor to 500Startups, helps the reader step back and see the elephant in its entirety. He begins by describing two business models, which he calls “pipes” and “platforms.” An alternative to the Uber and Airbnb modelPipes represent the old way, with producers of things, services, or content at one end, and their consumers at the other. Platforms, on the other hand, use a plug-and-play model to connect multiple producers and consumers. Think of how Uber’s drivers or Medium’s writers use those platforms to reach their riders and readers.

This is an excerpt from Tech in Asia. You can read the full article here.

First Published: Mon, September 21 2015. 13:29 IST