1772: Startup Opportunity

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Startup Opportunity
While there's no formal regulation, it turns out their industry group is NOT one you want mad at you.
Title text: While there's no formal regulation, it turns out their industry group is NOT one you want mad at you.


Beret Guy's company, first seen in 1032: Networking, 1293: Job Interview and 1493: Meeting, returns, and its purpose is as vague as ever.

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, and whether said goods and services are competitive in their market (by their quality, or through advertising campaigns, or price).

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 shop has been mentioned multiple times. This is a common trope in fantasy stories (notably Stephen King's novel Needful Things, using this exact premise, and Discworld, which is also mentioned in other comics), 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 2332: Cursed Chair, Beret Guy purchases a chair from such a shop. 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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More escapades of Beret guy's business - 1021, 1032, and probably more --AnotherAnonymous (talk) 15:41, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

it may be a reference a episode of the Adult swim show Rick and Morty. In season 1 episode 9 "Something Ricked This Way Comes" the devil sets up a shop that gives away magical items that appear to give the user some superpower or other advantage but turn out to be cursed, for example a type writer that helps the user make best selling murder mystery books but then the murders happen to them in real life. Rick decides to open his own business to un-curse items but letting them keep there magic power thus disrupting the devils entire business. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

While it wasn't Beret guy, the idea of a business that doesn't do anything reminds me of 1060 -- 22:38, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

Has Berry Guy ever interacted with White Hat before? Username'); DROP TABLE users;-- (talk) 00:57, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Online virtual world

I think this comic could be referring to online virtual world. There is several site that sell virtual good for real money. Players could also trade virtual currency for virtual magic item. The fact the shop is in virtual world could explain why they look like they never existed.

Temporary shops that sell items to adventurers in need are a common theme among many games. O'aka XXIII in FFX is the first one that comes to mind, but there are a LOT. A lot of these shops sell items that are of particular value at the time, but another common theme among them is to sell unidentified or even cursed items, admonishing the player for trusting some random guy that they met in the wilderness. Sometimes these "cursed" items end up being plot essential. The really crooked ones also offer to uncurse the items once they are identified (or the user has identified that they are cursed by equipping them before they are fully identified) Mordor: the depths of Dejenol is an old game that had cursed items that you had to pay the shop to have removed before you could level up. Some of the items, though, were "cursed" but provided real benefits, and players would equip them intentionally every level knowing that they'd have to pay because the benefit was great enough. Kashim (talk) 21:34, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

-- 18:12, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

Well does chair, actually mean chair like an object or Chairmen? Because I assumed the latter when first read the comic...

I definitely read it like it was referring to the object. NotLock (talk) 06:14, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Trimutius (talk) 01:54, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

This is also how I read it. Since there are several people sitting at table, seemed likely to be an executive board (i.e. gathering of several chairpersons). This also plays on the tendency for the organization of an activity (administration) to become more important than the actual activity (at least to those administering it). "But it is possible, after a while, to develop certain dangerous habits of thought. One is that, while all important enterprises need careful organization, it is the organization that needs organizing, rather than the enterprise." (Pratchett, Thief of Time) 06:22, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

2016 Kickstarters in a nutshell defined by this one comic. This is why I never do kickstarters. If they fail, you don't get your money. But if they succeed, people will question what's taking so long and can take hold of your project in court at any time. Any games I make, I make myself with my own money and budget. Still wouldn't mind having Beret Guy as a business partner, though. ;) --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 15:01, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

I wish I knew Beret Guy in real life. Dude you're awesome. 15:06, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

How do we know that Cueball, Hairy, and the others are there as "advisers"? They might be potential investors looking into this startup! --Lou Crazy (talk) 15:25, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

This was my interpretation as well. L-Space Traveler (talk) 22:54, 20 July 2023 (UTC)

I don't think this is proper usage of [citation needed]. The way I understand it, it's supposed to be used for things that are widely believed to be true but aren't provable, and implying their possible falsehood is humorous. 18:19, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Seriously, with the amount of startups popping up these days, there might be a startup crash tommorow... 15:36, 17 December 2016 (UTC)

I kinda take issue with insinuating that Beret Guy "is hopelessly out of touch with reality" - is he? Really? Or might he rather be intersecting with an alternate reality, which, at least when he's around, occasionally bleeds through to the reality of the rest of the comic. Maybe he "is hopelessly out of touch with the other characters' reality"(?) or something similar - Brettpeirce (talk) 19:20, 12 January 2017 (UTC)

Perhaps his "endless wings" (1099: Tuesdays) resulted from consuming similarly endless, but cursed, wings. 01:53, 9 June 2018 (UTC)

Perhaps Beret Guy's business is him getting money from the "What If" about receiving money in cash, specifically the Jeff Bezos room. After all, he refers to the interview room as "this real building I found," so maybe he also "found" the room with Jeff's salary.