Selling Shovels: Indie Business in the new startup gold rush

You might have heard the saying that during a gold rush you should sell pickaxes. The basic gist is that during the California Gold Rush some of the most successful business people such as Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan who didn't mine for gold themselves but instead sold supplies to miners (ie wheelbarrows, tents, jeans, pickaxes).

Bringing it back to 2021 the parallel is that new technology entrepreneurs can capitalize on the trend by creating a consumer product (mining for gold) or by creating tools to enable consumer products (selling pickaxes). I think we'll see soloprenuers and micro - entrepreneurs capitalize on this trend as even more creator platforms arise (Tik Tok, Shopify, Clubhouse, Bubble). In today's economy you can "mine for gold" (be an influencer, build a consumer web app, start an eCommerce store) or build a specific solution that enables others to better mine for gold on those platforms (create a tool to measure creator analytics, a plugin to better convert eCommerce visitors etc).

What's even more interesting many emerging platforms for makers, creators, influencers are investing and enabling other businesses to create and serve pickaxes to creators and entrepreneurs on their platform. Coda just released packs with a $1million makers-fund investment, Adalo launched components, Shopify has a thriving app and extension ecosystem. If you're looking for ideas  selling pickaxes on a winning platform could be the ultimate cheat code. Here are some examples of businesses that have already capitalized on this trend.

Modern Day Examples of Businesses Selling Shovels

Utopia Labs - Provides the infrastructure for DAOs to enable more businesses to create DAOs.

Memberstack -Memberstack provides infrastructure to build beautiful user logins and payments for websites to enable more creator to build their own membership and payment courses.

JetBoost - A SAAS built on top of Webflow that enables real-time search, dynamic filtering, and more.

Softr - Build web apps on top of Airtable. Softr also recently raised $2million in venture funding.

BDK Native - A service to turn Bubble apps to mobile apps.

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts on selling shovels and some examples that you've found. Feel free to tweet us with your thoughts.

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