May 24, 2022

#267 — 🧱 What's in a lego?

#267 — 🧱 What's in a lego?
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This episode is all about Legos, I've mentioned this concept before (here and here most recently), but take a deeper dive into what makes a business lego and what does not in this episode.


Hey what's up everybody, this is Lola Ojabowale, founder of lunch pail labs. Welcome back to lunch meal daily. My personal audio diary, I'm building and growing lunch pail Labs, which is a digital products studio based out of Atlanta, Georgia. In today's episode, we're gonna jump about Legos, which is what I think is the coolest piece of building a company or product in our time, in this day and age 2022. 

It's also what I've mentioned previously, as an explicit focus of mine, at least in the short term with lunch pail labs, because it's cool, building Legos, helping other people build Legos, and I feel serves a broader mission of enabling people to focus on work they love, and they enjoy and that they're good at. But that's another combo for another day. However, back to the task at hand, Legos, what are Legos? Like? What am I talking about? No, not those little blocks that you use to make chips and stuff when you're a kid. But take it back 20 years ago, if you were building a software startup, you used to have to build out all of your own systems to scale out your computing power, and store your info. AWS gave us all this lovely cloud power, Salesforce, Salesforce later came along, sharing the CRM, block zendesk, also giving you the customer service block. 

And when I think of Legos, it's really all these pieces of business functionality that you can now assemble, and put together to create a company without having to build that expertise and functionality in in house. And I also think this really drives with another article, I always mentioned the nature of the firm, Robert Coase 1930s, economic economist, but how we are, you know, what causes a firm to be big, higher transaction costs. And we are entering into an age where that's not true, you can mark it without having to have an expert marketer in your company, which was a cost and draw drove up this sort of like capital requirements, that you needed to even start a business, which makes only a few people and make it possible for only a few people to really have businesses of a certain size. So those transaction costs are going down. I really feel like these Legos, these business, Legos are part of it. And even better, really empowering starting to empower creators, solo creators, solopreneurs, independent, and in very, very small teams. So I did some research, some thinking out loud, some writing about what, what's in this space. And because I can sort of see almost reductive argument of, well, with a wide enough lens, if you really strip everything to its core, isn't every b2b SaaS, a Lego in some way, which I think is not helpful as default, like as a category, if we're gonna say it's every b2b SaaS, but so but I think there's some things that make things different. 

So what is a Lego Company? What is it? I think, Legos are software, they're services that can be products that replaced what would otherwise be di wet, like Do It Yourself behavior and functions within businesses, or would replace the need to build the capability in house. And I've mentioned this a couple of episodes of get ago, but I really feel like this not boring definition really puts the nail on the head is it's these companies, these functions that are at the intersection of that mission critical, ie it needs to get done. So rather your software or your product exists, people are still going to do this people are still going to figure it out, they're still going to do it. And, and it this intersection of mission critical and needs to get done and non core which is I don't want to do it. Emphasis on the I don't want to do it. And I think that's where Legos are a little bit of a refinement on some b2b software services. b2b Like every agency.

The alternative isn't necessarily another product you know, use some of these Legos okay? There's obviously multiple alternatives. You know, if you don't, if you don't work with one accounting firm, there are other accounting firms you can work out but like as I think as a category, the alternative is is building that capability in house. So some more spitballing in that regard, try to think of some actual, like real examples from lunch pail labs. So for example, hot jar, I love that analytics tool, I have it embedded in some of the products i i run and that I help clients run on their behalf. And I think it's a great tool provides insights. But in the absence of hot jar, I wouldn't actually be figuring out my own way of doing heat maps. It's cool. It's an enhancement, it gives me sort of rich, richer analytics data that I probably wouldn't have otherwise, but like, if it did not exist, I yeah, my my alternative would not be okay, now I have to figure out like how to create my own heat map software are just like totally do some other totally different way of analyzing data.

Same with Miro, I love Miro, I think it's such a beautifully designed tool. I love when I get to sort of CO collaborate, live in meetings in Amuro bored, it's just awesome and fun and cool. But in the absence of Miro, I wouldn't be figuring out some, like collaborative tool. I don't have like a department of, you know, like whiteboarding software tools. I just like wouldn't do it. So while it is like, cool, probably gives me some productivity benefits. And I think it's nice to get to co work with clients in that way. It's an it's a b2b SaaS that doesn't fit that non core mission critical. And I think some of this is also like context specific, perhaps in some contacts for some organizations in some industries, your teacher who your whole business is like, virtual classrooms. Yeah, maybe Miro then becomes actually really mission critical, because you really have to have some of this, but for now, we're leaving. We're gonna leave a lot of I think those out. And so. So then we discover what are not Legos. So there are B to C, B to consumer companies, Spotify and a Lego. Netflix I wouldn't say is a Lego. Nike, I wouldn't say is a Lego. They aren't newsletters, unless it's like replacing, I guess, like our research function that you would normally do as like DIY behavior. They're not like TV shows. I think well, some examples of Legos, especially at lunch pail lives, I have my accounting Lego, it's probably like my most expensive Lego cost several 1000s a year. 

And in the absence of me not hiring some other firm to do my accounting and my taxes. I would sure as I wouldn't be doing those accounting and taxes. So now I have my virtual assistant lego Zapier takes a lot of the tasks that I might have, I would actually do, if I did not have a zap for it, whether it's connecting some of my calendars, or like following up on emails or logging data, like I would literally be doing that. I have my copywriting Lego copy AI. In the absence of coffee AI, I would be brainstorming and rewriting copy. Even in I think the software dev space. There might be arguments to be made that bubble and no code are Legos, I think depending on who that user is for a software developer. They're certainly Legos. In some ways, in the absence of their existence, they would be coding and scratch for the person who doesn't know is not software developing at all. They may not actually build at all without in the absence of sort of like a bubble and no code. I think GitHub co pilot is a serves as a reviewer slash like pure debugger Lego that in the absence of it existing at least for me, like I would very literally and I I have you know, would hire specifically for that purpose. And then there's I feel like a lot of sales Legos. Intro is a company that I try to I try to shout out in that regard that for cold sales and booking meetings like they Do that as a service for firms, which I think is brilliant. And in the absence of them doing the that activity, you bet, yeah, those firms would be doing doing that all themselves. And that's kind of like the the big overview here, I'd say of Legos. What I think Legos are, what? Yeah, what the definition is some examples of what they are and what they're not. And I'm really excited to dive in more, I've started tracking kind of what products and companies fit in this Lego definition, I'll probably get to I think I'll get to like a couple 100. And I'll,

I'll like, I definitely plan on sharing the database with anyone who's interested, not just from like understanding the landscape perspective, but like for other solo people, like you're trying to glue together a business. Well, here, this is where you grab your accounting. This is where you grab your benefits. This is where you grab some product and some software Dev, and surfacing what those sort of like happy paths are. So that is all for me on this Tuesday. I hope you all have the most wonderful one, and I will catch you all later.