1772: Startup Opportunity
Title text: While there's no formal regulation, it turns out their industry group is NOT one you want mad at you.
Analysts, brought in to advise his company, determine that it doesn't actually serve any purpose (a problem which could ironically be attributed to business analysts in general). Beret Guy is dumbfounded, claiming that his company must do something, and takes a line of reasoning that faintly resembles the sort of logic a child might use. A child that visits an office building might conclude that an office does a lot because there are a lot of employees working inside, unaware that what really makes a successful business is how efficiently it uses its employees to deliver goods and services to the consumer.
Now, if Beret Guy is given the benefit of the doubt, his odd statement could be taken to mean that his company has many administrators (a.k.a. chairmen); as the owner of a sufficiently large business often interacts with the department in charge of overhead, a person in his position runs the risk of becoming myopic, losing touch with the workers that actually make the business function.
However, this is Beret Guy we're talking about here. He has demonstrated, time and time and time again, that he is hopelessly out of touch with reality, and this very strip shows no sign of him having gotten a firmer grasp of Earth logic. Displaying less business acumen than a child and less grounding in perspective than a CEO, he uses the number of chairs in the workplace as a yardstick for success, with no mention of his actual, human workforce. It may even be a stretch to say that a child would make the same assumption based on the number of chairs.
The analysts suggest that Beret Guy find an industry to disrupt. The mention of "industry" immediately reminds Beret Guy of SimCity, where Industrial (along with Residential and Commercial) is one of the three main zone types - it allows factories and farms to develop. Disruption means coming up with a product that redefines what the market expects and leaving existing competitors in the dust (for instance, smartphones disrupted mobile, digital photography disrupted film, and air travel disrupted rail and sea travel (and is in turn being disrupted by high-speed rail)) - it's now an industry buzzword and virtually every company claims to be "disruptive".
When pointed in the right direction, Beret Guy realizes that the main industry he deals with is weird disappearing shops selling cursed goods, such as the WiFi in 1812: Onboarding. This is a common trope in fantasy stories (notably Stephen King's novel Needful Things, using this exact premise), and as soon as Hairy hears about it he wants out of the building, but as his colleagues point out it also bears more than a passing resemblance to many dodgy startup companies. These appear suddenly with a lot of promotion and a marketable idea, looking for venture capital (or, a lot of times in recent times, pre-orders on Kickstarter). However, many startups fail - either because they didn't take into account the difficulties involved in bringing a product to market, or because they were an active scam - and disappear without a trace, leaving customers either empty handed or with a buggy product that falls short of promises. As Cueball notes, these cursed shops are actually the perfect startup, at least from a moneymaking perspective. This humorously ignores the more obvious larger problem, that such a business would be impossible to create due to not actually having magical items to sell (unless, of course, one is referring to items that are sold by making unrealistic or implausible claims as to their use, which could be considered similar to "magic". This is common enough in the real world, and many such products call themselves "magic" without actually explicitly claiming to use mysterious powers of sorcery. One character could be thinking literally, and the other one figuratively). Apparently, the business may become one, if he does spend most of his money there.
As with most Beret Guy comics, there are multiple layers of absurdity. For a start, the fact that he-and by extension, the rest of the cast-live in a world including supernatural shops is, while not inconsistent, still supernatural. The assertion that this is where he buys most of his materials and other products is also curious, given the shops' inherent temporary nature, as it implies either something about him causes these shops to appear, or that he is drawn to these shops instinctively. Most absurdly, he apparently purchases his food from these establishments (which may also serve as an explanation for his 'soup outlet' in 1293: Job Interview), despite previously stating everything they sell is cursed, conjures troubling images in the mind of how exactly food would be cursed-and its effects. Perhaps this explains Beret Guy's strange powers.
The title text alludes to the fact that irrespective of whether or not there is formal regulation, it is unwise to anger a group of people who have access to cursed magical items. It is easy to imagine numerous ways they could make one's life substantially worse.
In 2376: Curbside it is revealed that while the shops seem to require masks, they do not have curbside pickup.
[Around a table, sitting in a meeting, are Ponytail, White Hat, Beret Guy, Hairy, Hairbun, and Cueball.]
- White Hat: We've discovered that your company doesn't do anything.
- Beret Guy: How is that possible?! We have so many chairs!
[Close up on White Hat and Beret Guy.]
- White Hat: You need to find an industry to disrupt.
- Beret Guy: An...industry?
- Beret Guy: Oh, yeah!
- Beret Guy: The zoning thing from SimCity!
- White Hat: No, like, a kind of business.
- Beret Guy: How do I find those?
- White Hat: I don't know. What's something you spend a lot of money on?
[Beat panel showing only Beret Guy.]
[White Hat, Beret Guy, Hairy, and Hairbun are shown. At left and right, respectively, parts of Ponytail's and Cueball's arms and lower bodies can be seen.]
- Beret Guy: You know those mysterious shops that sell you magical items, and then it turns out they're cursed, but when you go back later there's no sign the shop was ever there?
- Beret Guy: I get most of my stuff from those.
- Beret Guy: Like groceries.
[Closeup on Hairy, Hairbun, and Cueball. Cueball has his hand on his chin.]
- Hairy: We should go.
- Hairbun: Wait. High-value sales, no regulation, and when customers try to complain, they can't find you...
- Cueball: Maybe this is the perfect startup.
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