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In earlier post, I was writing about the sometimes-effective-but-overused “High-Concept Pitch“, and showcased a satirical website that generated automatic versions of the It’s an “X” for “Y” styled pitches.

I stumbled across a Quora discussion about the topic, with a few insightful answers. Somewhere down the list, a member posted this wonderful little comic:

 

 

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After a few years of working in the television industry, particularly on the planet they call Hollywood, I was immersed in the “high concept pitch” language of the entertainment industry. The practice is meant to impart your idea to studio executives with nano-attention spans by equating the idea with another more familiar, popular and successful movie or TV show:

It’s Die-Hard on a Submarine
It’s Big Brother with Obese People
It’s Jaws in Space

 

One of my favorite movies, Robert Altman’s The Player, nails this culture perfectly (though many think the movie is a parody – the depictions are really spot-on). In one scene, a pair of writers start their pitch with “it’s Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman.”

Silicon Valley has also adopted the practice:

It’s MySpace for College Students
It’s Facebook for Professionals
It’s Google for Humming Songs

 
In fact, the practice has nearly replaced the standard elevator pitch for startups.

While I will cover the more serious and practical aspects of this technique in a future post, I wanted to showcase a site that takes this concept to an absurd extreme:

Go to the site “Wait what does your startup do” (with the equally appropriate URL): itsthisforthat.com – and start clicking as it produces a random “high concept pitch” for the typical high tech startup.
 
 
 
 

 

Brilliant and spot-on, as usual, from Scott Adams’ Dilbert:

Dilbert.com

 

 

 

From : Slideshare – Professors meme by Timothy Christy
 

 

Dilbert.com

Actually I am somewhat a fan of “outsourcing”. That is – when a company decides not to expend time or energy on tasks that fall outside focus of their core business. I think outsourcing has gotten a bad rep, mainly because companies have either outsourced for the wrong reasons, or because they have mismanaged the outsourcing. For instance, should a bank hire and manage an in-house web development team? There is a strong argument for hiring an outside firm that specializes in web development, instead of hiring, managing an internal team – otherwise the bank in part must become experts in web development. When a firm loses sight of what their core market strengths are (innovation? quality? operations?)and outsources this – their days are numbered.

The Dilbert comic is even more amusing. There’s nothing wrong for a company who has an innovative idea or business model to field out the majority of the non-critical, established tasks in order to be first to market, or to gain a competitive advantage. But in this case, the company starts out with a “me too” idea, in a crowded market and outsources everything. This only works in established, mature markets – for instance when Best Buy ‘manufactures’ their own brand of TV’s – outsourcing everything. Then again – Best Buy’s core competency is in retail distribution, so outsourcing the product makes sense. I’m actually surprised we haven’t seem more of these Dilbert companies.