March 13th, 2009

Every so often something comes along on the web that opens it up a
little for me. Today that happened with Alibaba, a site I hadn’t heard of until last week.

Alibaba is a China based B2B directory that basically puts suppliers
in touch with businesses that need things supplying. It’s pretty
simple. Traditionally your business’s suppliers have been regarded as a valuable
trade secret, but Alibaba with it’s massive wealth of suppliers in every conceivable industry seems to make that rather irrelevant.

It’s of particular interest right now as since Lara was made redundant (that
story is another post) we’ve been trying to come up with some business ideas. With Alibaba and low production runs it now seems relatively easy to get something manufactured without exposing ourselves too much.

Like Michael Gambon’s character says in Layer Cake “The art of good
business is being a good middleman”, and this is what Alibaba appears
to do extremely well. They publish suppliers’ direct contact details
so their business model must be based on a listing fee rather than a
cut of the deal.

Incidentally, I saw Michael Gambon in a rather nice white Audi R8 on
Victoria Embankment not so long ago. Nice motor Mike.

Anyway, what I mean by the web opening up is that it’s hard not to
have your horizons broadened when you realise you have a choice of
over 2500 taffeta* suppliers. It’s a big world, but it’s getting easy to get
around it.

*That is not a clue to our idea. Nor is it anything to do with making my own line of action figures.

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