Business Model Ripped From the Pages of My Book BMOC

Apparently, a company named "Sumpto" has adopted a business model right out of my novel BMOC (written about 7 years ago).  This is a scene where entrepreneur Preston Marsh is interviewing and trying to recruit the protagonist Susan out of business school.  They are discussing the business model of his company called BMOC.  Half of its business model was that companies paid BMOC to place their products in the hands of influential high school students.

[Marsh:] The real innovation, though is… do you know what a product placement is?”

[Susan:] “Sure. It’s when a company pays to get their product into a TV show or movie – like when Reese’s pieces were used in the movie ET or I guess if you showed Seabiscuit eating Purina Horse Chow.”

“Exactly! And product placements are particularly effective. They act like an ad but they can’t be ignored like an ad. Anyway, we have taken product placements one step further: We get paid by major manufacturers to place their products not in movies but in the hands of the most popular kids in high school, the ones who really lead opinion as to what’s cool and not cool who we…”

“Who you happen to have on retainer anyway.”

“Exactly. But be careful how you think about ‘on retainer.’ The natural reaction is to assume this means money, but in our case it’s not. We keep the most popular people on retainer merely by …”

“Giving them free products,” Susan interrupted again, with growing excitement, “that manufacturers are already paying you to put in their hands.”

This is from Sumpto's web site.  (You will have to click through, for some reason even copying it as text is crashing my site, not sure why).

A big hat tip to reader Don, who not only found the site but paid me the indirect complement of having remembered my book.  Thanks!

Yet another case when I was 7-10 years too early (at Mercata were were about 10 years too early to cash in on social media as Groupon did with a similar model to ours).  But honestly, I was trying to make up quasi-outrageous business models.  For god sakes the other two major business ventures in the book were building fountains to harvest the coins thrown in them and selling musical tones for elevators.  I had no idea I should have been getting venture funding.

By the way, for the dozens of my literary fans, I am almost done with my next book, which is  really going to be good.   This novel writing thing really is about practice.  Teasers to follow...


  1. LowcountryJoe:

    I enjoyed your book quite a bit.

  2. Mercury:

    HA! I have cynically articulated this business idea at least ten years ago too (although
    not in a book). It’s a natural extension of marketing via celebrities which has been going on forever (red
    carpet and first ladies generally don’t buy their own fancy duds). Plus, in a
    world where girls auction off their virginity – what do you expect?

    I’ve also read in several instances about exchanging cash up front for “equity” –preferred
    shares really- that would give you a claim on a person’s future income.

    Maybe you could also start a business that would match political office holders looking for cash with
    companies who are looking to promote their products or interests!.....oh wait…

    Western Civilization just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it?

  3. ErikTheRed:

    Don't sell yourself short. I read quite a bit of fiction (and nonfiction), and BMOC is a perfectly good book. I won't blow smoke up your ass and say it was the best I ever read or anything, but it's definitely "solid."

  4. Chris Kahrhoff:

    equity against future income: read the book "The Unincorporated Man"

  5. Username456:

    "I am almost done with my next book, which is really going to be good. This novel writing thing really is about practice. Teasers to follow..."

    Just give us the fictional businesses, we'll take it from there. :-)

  6. Jens Fiederer:

    Glad to hear it, really enjoyed the first.

  7. Don:

    Gotta say, I thought it (BMOC - the business) was a brilliant idea myself.

    And I DID enjoy the book.

    You're welcome!

    I think you should offer signed advanced copies to your blog-readers on the new book. We can drive you Amazon pre-release sales :^).

  8. lelnet:

    Enforcing copyrights on elevator jingles and building and cleaning decorative fountains both seem like fairly expensive propositions, relative to the potential revenue yield, so it's not much surprise to me that those have stayed fictional. But all that the BMOC idea itself was waiting for was an actual entrepreneur with the stones to try it.

    Looking forward to the next novel. :)