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Sell the Bullets


Wars create fortunes. Be the guy who sells the bullets, not the soldier fighting the war.

Trinidad, CO, located in the southern part of the state on the Colorado side of Raton Pass, was, until recently, the "sex change capital of the world". More sex reassignment surgeries were done there than any other city, until recently when the surgeon left to take a job in San Francisco.

Trinidad, population 7,300, has a long, illustrious history. It grew up as a trading post along the Santa Fe Trail, one of the 3 primary "trails" in early 1800 America that connected Independence, MO with Sante Fe, then part of Mexico and a major trade route. The Trail provided entrepreneurs with 2 ways to make money. The first was by providing a way for people to do business or mine coal. The second was to sell things to the people who were doing the business or mining coal.

For example, the growth in traffic along the trail attracted Jewish merchants from the East Coast and Europe who saw a business opportunity providing goods, tools and supplies to Sante Fe Trail users. In 1883, they built Temple Aaron, now the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the state. The genealogical connection to prominent Denverites exists to this day.

Different people define business models different ways and it has evolved over the years. Fundamentally, a business model is a set of hypotheses that describes how a firm intends to do what they do at a profit. It is different from a business strategy, which describes where and how a firm plans to play and win in the competitive marketplace.

If you are looking for an opportunity, consider selling the tools to make the product, not the product itself. For example, there is tremendous interest in companies producing high speed automated DNA sequencers that will be able to deliver the $1 genome and provide an important tool to drive the personalized medicine revolution. Another company, Sharklet is using a sharkskin-like material that is bacteria resistant to coat medical devices, and, interestingly, the bottom of US Navy ships to prevent the accumulation of barnacles and other organisms that create drag on the hull.

Wars create fortunes. Be the guy who sells the bullets, not the soldier fighting the war.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice