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The Roman Business Juggernaut

20181112_back Heading back home after vacation.

It’s good to be back from ICANN and a couple of weeks’ vacation in the south of France. I must admit that there’s nothing quite like taking some time out to refresh yourself and get a new perspective on our incredible industry.

As a co-founder of ParkLogic, while away,I found myself reflecting upon each of our service offerings and asking two questions:
1.    What problem does it solve?
2.    What business is it in?

These two questions force me to focus on what value are we adding to the target market. It’s really big picture stuff but during a time of vacation I find it’s a unique opportunity to work on the business rather than in the business.

So while I was looking an aqueduct built by the Romains in Pont Du Garde I began pondering about business structures that are built to last. In fact, I find that I can’t help but consider this when staring up at an amazing feat of engineering that was built over 2,000 years ago.

After visiting the musuem I found out that business was the main reason why the aqueduct was built. The Romans invested in serious architecture to move water fifty miles and then sold access to the water to make a massive profit. In fact, in Rome they had a ministry of water that was one of the more prestigious civil services because of the money it generated.

Initially, the Romans saw the aqueduct as a way of irrigating new farmland to open up new fields for planting and harvesting.  They initially thought they were in the “water moving business” and sold rights to everyone from restaurants to wealthy individuals who wanted a fountain in their backyard.

It got to the point where they actually sold more water than the aqueduct provided. Why was this? One smart individual worked out they were in the water capacity business not water volume. Not everyone needed access to the water all of the time… why not sell on capacity rather than volume. All they then had to do was manage the peak demand times through a pricing mechanism.....sounds a bit like modern utility companies doesn't it.

Pont du GardeFor instance, it really doesn’t matter if a field is irrigated in the day or night but a restaurant needs the tap to flow at particular times. So they reduced the tariff on the farmers to take the water at night. This spread the demand. The Romans may have been conquering military imperialists but more than that, they really understood business.

So let’s bring this back to the domain industry…..One of the things I’ve been pondering is whether I’m in the domain industry or are domains just a vehicle for something else? What do I mean by this?

If I’m routing traffic, then should the traffic ultimately be decoupled from the domain? If I’m into domain sales am, I selling a domain name or a destination and what’s the difference between the two? Or if I’m developing domains am I rather building businesses? What impact does this have for the online and offline customer?

These types of questions seem a little esoteric, but they are actually quite important. Working out what business you’re in is fundamental to understanding where you are adding value and the direction you can grow. I would encourage you to take some time out of your business and like the Romans re-evaluate what it is that you are actually doing.

Now that I’m back I’ll get stuck into the masses of emails and tasks that need to be completed over the next few days. For those of you that are wondering, yes, the picture is me wearing an T-shirt. As well as providing a great service, have awesome T-shirts that are brilliant to wear on long-haul flights.

How to Turn a Profit with Domains
ICANN 63 - Barcelona

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Wolftalker on 12 November 2018
Water wasn't moved in a day...

Who'd da thought, the Romans as Water Ripoff Merchants!

Who'd da thought, the Romans as Water Ripoff Merchants!
mgilmour on 12 November 2018

It surprised the heck out of me as well....!

It surprised the heck out of me as well....!
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