211. Jeff Grogg: Building The New Production Structure Of Entrepreneurial Capitalism
t’s time to re-imagine how entrepreneurs bring their innovative value propositions to market at the appropriate scale to meet the important needs of millions of people. The new way of thinking is for entrepreneurs to focus all their energy on designing, refining and strengthening the value proposition, and then plugging in to a network of resources assembled by others so that customers enjoy the full realization of the value experience the entrepreneurial has designed. Jeff Grogg of JPG Resources joined Economics For Business to describe how this works in the CPG food and beverage industry.
Starting From A New Value Proposition.
The entrepreneurial journey — whether starting a new company or launching or improving a brand or launching and managing a new corporate innovation initiative or even a new division or internal venture — starts with a value innovation goal. An entrepreneurial team or an entrepreneurial organization conceives of a new experience for customers that they’ll value highly enough to warrant the firm’s investment in new capabilities. The team tests the market appeal and commercial power of the value proposition to greatest extent they can. They get ready to go to market at scale — to produce, package, ship, distribute, sell and take payments, and then to respond to marketplace results with more volume, or broader distribution, or maybe some tweaks to some aspects of the execution of the value proposition.
Traditionally, once the launch decision is made, the firm maps out the value chain and assembles the enabling resources — manufacturing capacity for products, service backrooms and infrastructure for services, supply chain components, business partnerships and their associated contracts, marketing and sales capabilities, distribution, warehousing and retail access.
What if this part — the resource assembly part — were already done? The risks and constraints of making a new business out of a new value proposition would be greatly reduced.
Jeff Grogg and his platform firm have built new business infrastructure so that entrepreneurs don’t need to.
Jeff describes his company, JPG Resources, as a business builder. His focus is on food and beverage businesses in the CPG category. The company build businesses so that entrepreneurs don’t have to. To be clear, the entrepreneurial teams focus on the customer and customer empathy and understanding, identifying a unique value that meets meaningful needs for a large number of people. That’s the critical step in the generation of new economic value.
The next step is typically building the supply chain from formulation and recipe development for scale, to manufacturing and packaging, shipping and distribution, and designing the management processes and hiring the people and drawing up the contracts for smooth continuous scale operations. That’s extremely hard work, and fraught with risk. The phrase “starting a business” can sound intimidating for that reason.
JPG Resources can absorb and take on and solve all those challenges and potential problems, and free the entrepreneurs to concentrate on customer value design and the last mile of marketing and sales.
The new entrepreneurial production structure can apply at all scales.
JPG Resources has helped pre-market start-ups with initial product development and culinary research, has provided infrastructure for growth for maturing companies, has helped mid-size companies expand beyond their current scope, and has helped big companies enter new areas beyond their existing comfort zones. The new “plug-in” production structure operates at all stages and all scales and all along the value chain.
JPG Resources can provide manufacturing or train manufacturers from start up through expansion. The can help with food science, create new processes, manage contracting, identify and mitigate risk factors and arrange insurance. They can organize supply chain redundancy (efficient redundancy through back-ups, not wasteful redundancy through duplicates) and build resilience for clients. A virtual supply chain is superior to — and more flexible than – the self-assembled version.
The new entrepreneurial production structure is a network without boundaries.
The very term “supply chain” reflects linear thinking — links joined together in sequence. Systems thinking is non-linear. The JPG Resources infrastructure is an ecosystem using connective logic, connecting the necessary components, people, knowledge and flows for the desired outcome, and reconnecting as needed when the environment or the market changes. The network is not bounded — there are always external or partner services that are currently outside the network that can be brought in through new connections. All are conceptually aligned, and all the relationships and contracts are win-win. The experience of JPG Resources in designing, assembling and integrating supply chains and production networks means that they’ve seen both sides of contractual relationships and service partnerships under all conceivable circumstances and can make sure all the agreements work – and expand the value space – for all parties.
The new entrepreneurial production structure is an acceleration and strengthening of knowledge-building proficiency.
In episode #199, we identified knowledge-building proficiency as the key to value creation capacity. By partnering with infrastructure building firms like JPG Resources (and Gembah from episode #210), entrepreneurs can benefit from sharing the knowledge that these forms have already accumulated over multiple projects and product and business launches and growth initiatives. Jeff’s company is only too happy to share this knowledge, and doing so can help entrepreneurs avoid what he calls “self-harm” — making mistakes that could be avoided with the relevant prior knowledge.
Experience is harder to share. Jeff’s staff have hundreds of thousands of hours of experience, and, while entrepreneurs can’t live what they’ve lived, they can certainly benefit from experiential learning.
The error avoidance inherent in knowledge and experience sharing can be invaluable to entrepreneurs.
Individual freedom and choice still apply, in a more flexible capital structure.
Entrepreneurs can choose as much or as little of the available pre-built infrastructure as they choose. They can focus on their own strengths and supplement where they know they need to. They can make their own connections in the ecosystem and their own adjustments as circumstances dictate.
The new entrepreneurial infrastructure does not imply a reduction in entrepreneurial initiative, but a boost, an acceleration, an expansion of value creation potential. It enables the entrepreneur to concentrate on value facilitation rather than on building a supply chain.
The capital structure for value creation in the economy as a whole becomes more flexible, flows more freely and can throw off the shackles of bureaucracy and regulatory compliance. The entrepreneur can pass on the burdens of HR and finance and legal and many more functions that are peripheral to — and sometimes impediments to – value creation and concentrate on the value task alone.
This suite of organizational and capital innovation points to a structure of more firms, better firms, and faster and more significant value creation, with fewer economic resources devoted to value-extracting bureaucracy.
Jeff Grogg on LinkedIn: Mises.org/E4B_211_LinkedIn