An New Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

by Tom Adelstein

You can find many definitions and concepts about entrepreneurs and most involve innovation. In a formal way, you'll see textbooks saying that they recognize opportunities and then orchestrate the people and resources to turn the advantage of an opportunity into a successful business venture.

Then you see additions to the descriptions that says an entrepreneur assumes the financial risk and management of going after the opportunity. I wouldn't classify this group as entrepreneurs. Instead, I call them financial risk takers.

People who know have designated me an entrepreneur on a few occasions. I saw unexploited market niches and went after them. The first involved writing a microprocessor based accounting system for CPAs that allowed even sole proprietors to cut costs and do the work of ten staff members. That caught fire and had a nice exit strategy.

Others included automating the financial planning industry with a computerized system. Then we have the building of a Linux/UNIX clone of Outlook for Microsoft Exchange. In the course of events I learned to refine the process of orchestration and grow a second skin. I haven't ventured out again since 2002 after three hostile takeovers.

My experience generally and in Entrepreneurs Anonymous says that if you orchestrate a niche and taking it to the next level involves the need for capital. The guys with the money typically kill the original entrepreneur. First they reduce the entrepreneur's holdings and finally figure a way to push them out of the business usually through false accusations, litigation and withholding of promised rewards.

A Niche for the Brave Hearted

I consider myself a free software proponent. In my weltanschauung I also see the software in devices as something that manufacturers should open. But, they don't.

An irony exists for the vocal free software crowd. It sits in their use of proprietary hardware to host their free software operating systems. Again, in my world view it's like the irony of Ireland's copying the government structure of the nation she most hated - incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

In my last article, I wrote about my commercial DVD player failing. As an update to that, I purchased a much smaller and more capable RCA in China brand replacement for $39. Feature wise it beat up my previous RCA box that cost multiples of $39. The new box took up 20 percent of the space of the previous one.

The new DVD player supports a multitude of proprietary formats including music and video we like in the free software world. That intrigued me. While I fiddled with it, I learned that it had an embedded OS and components that cost me more at my favorite computer stores or on-line. In other words, I couldn't build that DVD player for $39 from off-the-shelf parts.

Going back to size, while compact, it also contained space. I would have designed the RCA in China DVD player differently and only used the platter and placed the components below it. But I can see why the manufacturer did not do that. Next to it on the same shelf, I saw a portable DVD player selling for $120 more and that was the cheap one.

That gave me the idea for a new business involving the use of an embedded OS and a set of proprietary audio and video formats. If free software advocates can live with Intel and VIA chip-sets, why couldn't they live with multimedia on a chip?

The Changing World of Media

Recently, my wife made an astute observation about recorded music. She started off by discussing her vinyl record collection, then her cassette tapes (she missed the 8 track phase), then her CDs and now digital music. She found it somewhat funny that people invest in smaller and smaller delivery devices.

I wonder if Popsicle could increase the sales of its products by putting an iPod or other device in the center of their Fudsicle or Big Stick Cherry Pineapple Swirl. They could sell their Good Humor brand with a Blue Tooth enabled ear piece.

Anyone Interested?

As a kid, I coveted my grand dad's McIntosh MA 230 Tube Preamp / Amplifier. I remember it had 60 watts RMS with 30 coming out of each side. Of course, it needed a huge piece of furniture to hold it and his Acoustic Research model AR XA turntable. I loved it. But, it came from his day.

Not too long ago, I found a 500 watt RMS preamp/amp that I picked up with my index finger and thumb that sold for $30. I just needed to add a volume control and a couple of other items to hook it up to my Cambridge speakers. Talk about irony.

Laugh as you will, hit this article with your vitriolic comments, etc. I get more validation from George Gershwin's "They All Laughed". I'm pretty sure you don't know the song, since it comes from days before most of your grand parents grew up. It's about that second skin I mentioned.

I see the opportunity for a work-around for the things Linux and FreeBSD need to compete with the Mac OS X and Windows desktops. If an entrepreneur(s) exists out there, consider music on a chip for free software platforms. It's probably a money maker but you'll need a little money to make it happen.


2006-06-22 14:03:49
You have some interesting ideas. Is there a reason you're not interested in implementing some of them yourself?

Not so sure about the wisdom of putting devices inside food..I can see the lawsuites already...

Tom Adelstein
2006-06-22 14:24:15

The devices in food analogy? Consider it an extreme analogy. But, then stranger things have evolved in this world.

Why wouldn't I do it myself? I might.

2006-07-08 08:03:52
Some sound cards already support MP3 encoding (and decoding?) in hardware, and several video capture cards feature hardware MPEG-2/4 encoders and decoders. How would this be different, aside perhaps from selling the devices at a loss?