The Thin Edge of the Wedge Strategy and the Rise of the Passion Economy



Sep 11, 2023 • 4 min read


The Thin Edge of the Wedge Strategy and the Rise of the Passion Economy

Establishing a strong user base and building relationships with new users is a challenging task for startups. To tackle this, many startups employ the "thin edge of the wedge" strategy, which focuses on product tactics to create a lasting connection with users. This strategy involves starting with simple features and quickly iterating to develop products that have enduring value. By doing so, startups can create companies that stand alone and have defensible value.

The concept of the "thin edge of the wedge" strategy is often compared to the "tip of the spear" strategy in terms of marketing tactics. However, the wedge strategy specifically focuses on the product itself. It may involve introducing a simple feature that existing companies overlooked or saw as inconsequential. One example of this is the early adopters of Delicious, who initially used it solely as a cloud-based bookmarking tool before utilizing its social bookmarking features once the user base grew.

Another variation of the wedge strategy is the "single player mode." This approach involves targeting a specific audience or segment and offering a product or service tailored to their needs. By providing a solution that meets their requirements, startups can attract a niche user base and expand from there.

Additionally, the wedge strategy can be applied in a two-sided market. In this case, the wedge lies on one side of the market, while the other side may be targeted later. This approach can be thought of as a variant of the "ladies night" strategy, where one side of the market is offered a special incentive to attract users who will eventually benefit the other side.

However, successful startups do not limit their focus to just the wedge. They think about the entire wedge from the start. This means building an initial user base with simple features and continuously iterating to create products that are enduringly useful. By doing so, these startups can create companies that have stand-alone, defensible value in the long term.

In recent years, a new trend called the "Passion Economy" has been gaining attention in the United States. This trend revolves around individuals leveraging their unique skills, interests, and passions to create businesses and services. Unlike traditional employment models, the Passion Economy emphasizes the value of individuality and personalization.

The unique aspect of the Passion Economy is that it turns individual characteristics into functional assets rather than bugs. This means that instead of trying to fit individuals into predefined roles or job descriptions, the focus is on harnessing their unique qualities and leveraging them as strengths.

One key driver of the Passion Economy is the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. These platforms provide the necessary tools and features for micro-entrepreneurs to launch and scale their businesses. By offering specialized functionalities and services, SaaS platforms empower individuals to create and monetize their passions.

Furthermore, the Passion Economy relies heavily on direct sales and personal connections. Instead of simply providing a product or service, businesses in the Passion Economy prioritize building relationships and delivering personalized experiences. This approach aligns with the idea of giving users the fishing rod instead of the fish, enabling them to take control of their own success.

While the concept of the Passion Economy initially applied to digital content platforms like YouTube, it has now expanded into various sectors. The emergence of face-to-face service platforms such as Uber, TaskRabbit, and exemplify this trend. These platforms connect individuals with specific skills or services to those in need, creating a marketplace for personalized and tailored experiences.

In conclusion, the "thin edge of the wedge" strategy and the rise of the Passion Economy share common principles. Both strategies emphasize the importance of understanding users' needs and catering to them with unique and personalized offerings. To leverage these strategies effectively, startups can consider the following actionable advice:

  • 1. Focus on simplicity: Start with simple features or services that solve a specific problem for a target audience. This allows for quick iteration and the ability to gather feedback from early adopters.
  • 2. Continuously iterate and improve: Use the initial user base as a foundation to build enduringly useful products. Regularly collect user feedback and make iterative improvements based on their needs and preferences.
  • 3. Foster personal connections: Prioritize building relationships with users and delivering personalized experiences. This can be achieved through direct sales approaches, such as providing tailored solutions and offering exceptional customer support.

By incorporating these strategies and embracing the principles of the Passion Economy, startups can establish strong relationships with users, create stand-alone value, and thrive in today's competitive business landscape.


  1. "The “thin edge of the wedge” strategy", (Glasp)
  2. "いま米国で注目される新トレンド「パッション・エコノミー」とは?ーー 個性を売りにする"マイクロ起業家" | BRIDGE(ブリッジ)テクノロジー&スタートアップ情報", (Glasp)

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