Data wants to be free

So I caught up with a friend who is thinking of launching a startup. The premise of the business is straightforward enough – harvest and sanitize free, publicly available data, and sell to willing buyers with deep pockets.

The conversation came around to how we could do some validated learning a la Lean Startup. I suggested we could package a subset of the data that he’d gathered and try and peddle it to parties that we think would derive value from such a product.

He had a concern – “What I don’t like about that idea is that I lose control of the data. what’s stopping someone from paying a one time fee for the data and just copying it around?”.

“Nothing really. Here’s the fact of the matter – data wants to be free, and she will find any means possible to free herself”.

Building a business around locking down a repository of raw data and selling it is no longer a viable model. The sooner a your model can make peace with that reality, the better its chances of sustaining for the long term.

What emerged out of that was a completely new trajectory and a lively conversation about how we could start thinking about embellishing the data with real and current value.