Essays/linkedin/24-01-03 my first entrepreneurial gig

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🎬 My first entrepreneurial gig was pirating music CD's and selling them to my classmates in school.

I convinced my father to invest in my idea: buying a CD burner for our computer, and I would sell copied discs at my school.

This was before the golden age of music piracy; broadband internet was not yet a thing (at least not in Argentina), and Napster didn't exist. Acquiring new music was much more pedestrian.

When a classmate wanted a disc, I would go to the shop, purchase it, make two copies—one for my archive and one for my customer—and then return the original, exchanging it for a new one. There was a limit to a single exchange, which meant I had to be strategic, either having a lined-up customer for the second disc or predicting what would sell.

The first iteration was cash-neutral, but teenagers all have the same taste. From the second purchase onwards, it was almost full profit.

I could repay the initial capital investment in few months, and insanely grew my music collection.

Then, devaluation and inflation hit my country. The costs of my materials (blank CD's and original ones) were all over the place. I had to anticipate future costs, build stock, continuously review my pricing strategy.

Competition came, but they didn't have such a vast collection of CD's. I learned the value of being the first mover in a small market.

Then broadband internet came. I was lucky of being slightly more technical than others, which meant I could download music without buying the original CD. When others caught up, I was finally out of business.

Nothing was a particularly well thought. Learnings were scattered. What I call now "first movers" is really an after-thought. I had no framework to understand what I was doing.

I never made much of that story until it resurfaced in a coaching session at the end of my PhD. Sometimes reconnecting with our past selves is a great tool to reconnect with our values and ambitions.

Do you have any such stories?


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