When Do We Stop Selling Shovels?

  • by Amando Abreu
  • on 28 March 2022

we’re all just selling shovels to each other and no one is actually digging

Imagine a gold rush. Many tell you that the best way to monetize it is by selling shovels.

But, then, doesn’t the shovel selling become a secondary gold rush? And so on and so forth?

At what point does the recursive shovel-selling become too deep?

Or does it not matter assuming the level of shovel-specificity keeps getting narrower and narrower? WeShovel makes very pointy shovels for harder dirt, and TheraShovel makes wide shovels for softer dirt and they are both experts at their intended use-cases.

Don’t we run the risk that at some point, those going for the gold realize that they’re just dreamers, and that maybe it’s best to also start selling shovels?

Before you notice, we’re all just selling shovels to each other and no one is actually digging. How do we know we’ve reached this point? Is this where we want to be? Are “bullshit jobs” a sign of this?

Is the main gold rush not worth pursuing anymore?

Are we out of gold?

About the author

Amando Abreu is a serial entrepreneur, Fractional CTO, and engineer who has been involved in several startups and launched dozens of products. He has worked with companies such as trivago, Portugal Telecom, and Vizrt. He has experience in several industries, most notably e-commerce, SaaS, media, travel, insurance, property development, and construction.
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