The Power of Free: Building Profitability in the Digital Age


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 06, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Free: Building Profitability in the Digital Age


In today's digital age, the internet has become a vast copy machine, where every action, thought, and piece of data is replicated and distributed freely. This super-distribution system has revolutionized our economy, as copies of products and media are easily accessible. However, this begs the question: why would consumers pay for something they can get for free? This article explores the concept of value in the digital age, the importance of trust, and the role of findability in capturing attention. Additionally, we delve into the path to startup profitability, emphasizing the need to knock down silos and prioritize sustainable growth.

The Value Proposition of Non-Copyable Assets:

In a world where copies are readily available, the true value lies in things that cannot be replicated. These include human desires such as curiosity, authenticity, status, a sense of belonging, trust, and beauty. Trust, for instance, cannot be purchased or downloaded; it must be earned over time. This highlights the importance of building authentic relationships with consumers, as trust is a valuable asset that drives loyalty and support.

The Role of Findability in the Digital Economy:

With millions of books, songs, films, and applications competing for attention, being found is a crucial factor in determining value. Findability can only be achieved at the systems level, which is where aggregators come into play. Publishers, studios, and labels serve as aggregators, curating and promoting works that they believe will resonate with consumers. While the internet machine takes care of distribution, aggregators play a vital role in directing users' attention back to the works. This highlights the enduring importance of publishers, studios, and labels in the digital economy.

The Path to Startup Profitability:

Contrary to conventional Silicon Valley wisdom, startups should consider prioritizing profitability early on. While growth is essential, reaching profitability allows for long-term sustainability and endurance. Startups should focus on revenue generation, developing a pricing model, and analyzing competitors' pricing plans. Offering a premium plan with additional benefits can entice customers to upgrade, even if they don't currently require the extra features. Additionally, experimenting with pricing and periodically adjusting it can help find the optimal balance between affordability and profitability.

Actionable Advice for Startup Profitability:

  • 1. Conduct thorough market research to determine the true value of your product or service. Segment your customers and tailor your pricing accordingly, ensuring that it accurately reflects the benefits they receive.
  • 2. Offer discounted annual plans with upfront payments to increase cash flow and reduce churn. However, be cautious when committing to annual contracts with vendors, as the flexibility to switch is crucial for startups.
  • 3. Consider hiring contractors before employees to manage costs. This allows you to work with top talent while affording their services. If needs grow, transitioning contractors to full-time employees can be a win-win situation, as you already have an established working relationship.


In the digital age, the value proposition has shifted from copies to unique, non-copyable assets. Building trust, focusing on findability, and understanding the true value of your product are key factors in capturing attention and driving profitability. By knocking down silos, prioritizing sustainable growth, and utilizing actionable advice, startups can chart a path to profitability while remaining enduring and successful in the long term.

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