Start Up Blog

Selling Potatoes

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 24, 2009

As entrepreneurs the natural temptation is on inventing new markets. Creating dramatic change and going for the trophy ideas. This stuff is incredibly difficult, which is why when we do it well the financial rewards can be significant. The interesting thing is that by being optimists with big ideas we really develop some amazing skills just trying. Regardless of our success or lack of.

Creating markets is much harder than getting a share of an existing market. There’s so much more to do to make it work. Things like building an entirely new supply chain, accessing unique raw materials, developing distributions channels and educating consumers of the benefits of this alternative.

Imagine for a moment that we focused our skills on something simple. Something for which there is already existing demand. A market with which there has been very little innovation for a long period of time. Imagine for example…. selling potatoes.

Selling potatoes would not be as difficult as inventing entirely new markets. Sure there would be incumbents in the game, maybe some very powerful players. But the one thing we can be sure of, is that people do business with people they like. Every industry has room for new players. Every business has some suppliers which they are not happy with. Imagine bringing some new world thinking into the potato trade. Integrating some Cluetrain ideas into this business, and really winning over some customers by doing things just a little differently. There is a new business waiting to happen in boring old market.


pic by Peter VanAllen

I often think that we ignore old areas because they are sexy enough, when all we need do is bring some new ideas in to sexy it up. And there is nothing more sexy than financial success in start up land. In addition our probability of success is certainly larger in an existing market than developing a new one, even if the financial gain is smaller. Maybe we can garner some success Selling potatoes first, before we try our trophy idea. It’s easy to be better than it is to be new.

Maybe your next business should be selling potatoes.


10 Responses

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  1. Ben Rowe said, on August 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Good post Steve,

    I agree … God knows I would have made more money if I had of been aboard the potato train.

  2. Steve Sammartino said, on August 24, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    For sure… my next business will be selling potatoes. Followed by the book.

    ‘Selling Potatoes’

    Boring yet profitable.

    Thanks for commenting,

  3. samma said, on September 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    mmmmmmmmm. potatoes….. making me hungry.

  4. mark moran said, on December 6, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Hi guys funny enough this week ive just bought 15 ton of Maris Piper potatoes the farmer sold them to me at £105.00 per ton, not sure how im going to approach the sale of them yet as im a mortgage adviser and with times being lean at the moment im looking else where to make an income. Ive sold some for £6.50 per 56lb bag mybe i will go as low as £5.00 to get them sold and buy some more.

  5. Startup Idea Generation « Start Up Blog said, on January 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

    […] to go the effort of education people, building a new supply chain and inventing demand. Sometimes ’selling potatoes’ is a better option. That said, I’ve been asked to give inspiration for idea generation […]

  6. Mark W. Schumann said, on January 25, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Yes Steve, sometimes “selling potatoes” is the best plan. I blogged about the phenomenon of the too-clever startup a few months ago at … long story short, I think there are people who fall in love with an overly complex idea because it’s less emotional risk than actually implementing something and taking a chance on its failure in the market.

    The grand startup idea that never quite gets done is always a “work in progress.” It is never (in their minds) a “failure.”

    • Steve Sammartino said, on January 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

      Mark, great comment mate. You’ve really added the next part of the story to the selling potatoes entry. it’s a good thing to hide behind the big idea, I’ve even did it myself before.

      Thanks for the insightful comment,

  7. […] My blogging cousin Steve has a nice theory, that there may be still a lot money to be made selling potatoes. His argument is that targetting proven markets for products with a fresh take on quality or […]

  8. Justin Hersey said, on May 6, 2012 at 5:31 am

    I live in Northern Maine. There is a lot of grower of potatoes. It has been a dream of mine to grow them and sell them my self. I have a green thumb but not the resources to 5do it. If you have any advise for me E mail me so I can get in on this great idea.

  9. RAM SARKAR RAJPUT said, on October 16, 2012 at 2:47 am

    i want to selling all types of potato lyk sugar free , s1 special , pukhraj ,37 97 , s2 or more . Sum who want to buy potato then contact me , ph. 08795696211

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