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October 04, 2010

THE MESH | in less than 300 words

The following continues my irregular postings of business book summaries. I’m striving to keep these summaries to less than 300 words.

The Mesh
THE MESH | summarized in about 300 words

How do you categorize upstart businesses like ThredUP, Zipcar, Crushpad, and Etsy? Lisa Gansky, founder and CEO of numerous Internet companies, gives these businesses the label of being a "Mesh" business.

In her just-published book, THE MESH: Why the Future of Business is Sharing, Lisa Gansky explains the characteristics guiding Mesh businesses. She uses "The Mesh" as a metaphor "to describe a whole new phase of information-based services" that "share information to facilitate access to new customers, customer preferences, and goods."

The four characteristics of Mesh businesses are: Sharable, Smartphone friendly, Tangible products, and Socially-networked.

The basic offering of a Mesh business is "something that can be shared, within a community, market, or value chain." For example, ThredUP is a kids clothes swapping business where members, on the ThredUP website, list shirts and blouses they want to swap and want to wear. You choose, you ship, you swap, and your child wears something new.


Smartphone friendly

Since Mesh businesses are designed for the web-savvy, being accessible to conduct transactions by a smartphone is a must. Zipcar, a car-sharing business operating in 49 states, makes it easy for its members to use smartphones to rent a car for a few hours.


Tangible products

The Mesh, according to Lisa Gansky, "enables businesses to profit handsomely by streamlining access to physical goods and services."

It's not easy to get into the wine-making business. Meticulously tending to grapevines isn't an option for most, nor is having all the wine-making equipment needed to make and bottle wine. Crushpad gives regular wine lovers access to high-quality grapes and the equipment plus expertise needed to make and bottle their own wine.



One of the more compelling characteristics of Mesh businesses is how they've baked social media into how they engage with customers. Etsy, an online seller of homemade arts, crafts, and goods, has thrived because it fosters a community of engaged buyers and sellers who use social media to tell others about the cool stuff for sale made by a passionate craftsman.


Of course, "many Mesh businesses are at the beginning of their life cycles" so time will tell if the Mesh recipe is truly characteristic of business success today and tomorrow.


[NOTE: I often receive free copies of biz books from publishers and publicists. The publisher, Portfolio, sent me a free copy of THE MESH to review.]


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Very nice review, John. And, you almost kept it to under 300 words (wink wink)! In addition to fitting the "MESH" model Lisa Gansky has coined, what I find interesting about the four companies you've highlighted here is they all work because they're squarely focused on a singular need for their customers. For example, Zipcar brings gives people very short term mobility. That's a specific need that they've filled nicely.

Or, what about Crushpad? They've found a way to give the everyday wine enthusiast the tools and access to create their own wine--on their schedule. Brilliant. The combination of MESH characteristics with a focus on what these companies solve (vs what they sell)could be potent indicators of success.

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