Pre-internet businesses were tough

2021-01-23 2 min read

    One of my favorite podcasts is NPR’s How I Built This that conducts interviews with entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, not just tech. A recent episode was an interview with Judi Sheppard Misset, the creator of Jazzercise - a dance fitness class that she launched in 1969. We all realize that there’s much less friction to launch a business these days but the interview makes you see how significant the changes have been.

    Pre-internet most people simply did not have any business or legal resources nearby and were flying blind. You relied on your friends, referrals, and experience to deal with problems as they arose. These days YouTube videos get immediately taken down with even a hint of a copyright violation and yet she was able to play songs without anyone in the industry even knowing it was happening.

    Electronics themselves were more limited. Judi mentioned losing her voice due to her having to scream the instructions while conducting 30 classes a week. Only when she discovered wearable mics did the problem go away - and back then they were just starting to be flexible and small enough to be comfortably worn during a dance class.

    Similarly, she was starting to franchise and needed to find a way to share the new routines with franchisees. Lucky for her video tape recording was just becoming popular.

    Based on the interview it seemed that at each major step of Jazzercise’s growth there was something that became available to make it possible. We all take the tools and resources we have for granted but it really wasn’t that long ago where there was friction at every step. Makes you wonder what are the currently hidden challenges we won’t have in a decade?