Consulting Series Part VI – The Colonial Case

British East India Company flag plate in Rees'...
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Found amongst the archives of a Victorian era boarding house recently auctioned in Sussex, this letter marks a watershed in the affairs of two great nations. It is a feasibility study report submitted by an erstwhile consultant to the board of directors of a mega corporation, in response to their request for a market entry opportunity analysis. Read on to find out how it changed the history of the world.


For the attention of: The Board of Directors

Sub:  White Space entry feasibility report for the Company

Dear Sirs,

As you may well know, the new century that has dawned upon our nation in general and our company in particular is rife with Change. This Change is driven by a motley mix of discoveries, scientific advancements and a general mobilization of collective inquisitiveness. In this age of relentless human advancement, the sphere of business is also facing tremendous challenges and opportunities. A future such as what we have never imagined in our wildest dreams awaits us across the ocean. Gentlemen, we are going to enter a new era of life, where business will transcend the frail boundaries created by human limitations and spread onward across the oceans. A new era in which the language of profit and loss shall irrevocably unite nations and races forever.

However, the future will not be any easier

Beware sirs, of the forces of competition. As my friend Archibald Robert Malthus is wont to remark,’ the common masses just won’t stop procreating; and the world is not growing any bigger’. Of course, after having more than his share of port wine, the exact terms he uses are slightly different from those quoted, but this being an official missive drafted to be read in the august presence of the leading members of our society, I see no reason to use the exact terms, so long as the meaning and intent of the sentence is not masked by the outrageousness of the words.  Eventually, we shall run out of space to store spices.

How should we prepare?

To deal with this imminent threat, there is a pressing need to expand the scope of our business beyond our shores, and take them to nations as yet unexplored. During these past few years, I have sent scouts far and wide to scour the earth, and those who were fortunate enough to return have brought back stories of untold riches in the form of spices and human labour in a certain distant land.

An attractive market

I consulted a friend of mine, who is a very well-known scholar in the highly advanced though admittedly young field of management science; James Ezekiel Porter. He assures me that this nation fits his profile of an attractive market. He puts forth the following forceful arguments in support of my proposition that we delay no further in expanding our business to this region

  • Currently, the region is divided into more than 600 princely states. Of these, a few are large enough in size to dominate the others. Besides these states, the Dutch are also present in sizeable numbers, but their dominance is restricted to small pockets. In short, the large players are the ones whom we have to win over. Once we incorporate them as our franchisees, we can effectively prevent any foreseeable competition amongst the present players
  • Once we grow inorganically to capture enough market shares, we can lobby the incumbent government to change the laws of the land. This will be done in such a fashion as to preclude the possibility of further companies foraying into our territory
  • We shall be dealing mainly in spices, textiles and manpower. And since all of these are abundantly available in this region at cheap rates, our raw material supply will be secured and steady for at least two centuries or more. And since we shall be amending the laws to suit our purposes, these supplies will remain open to only us and no one else
  • Such a vast manufacturing base which also provides us cheap and steady supply of raw materials will ensure that we will be able to serve more customers in our country and elsewhere in the best cost effective manner possible. This will reap great dividends for us in terms of customer loyalty and increased reputation
  • Since we will be dealing in all the possible trades whilst also tightly controlling the supply of raw materials, the danger of anyone producing substitute products that rival our monopoly in the market will be negligible

A “White Space”

In view of the above assessment I propose that we move at once to establish trade routes to this new nation. I have even coined a term to describe such countries. Henceforth, they will be called “White Spaces” to indicate that Christian White people shall be the first ones to dominate such spaces.

I have been staying here amongst the natives for the past few months, and have already established lines of communication with the most influential of the princely kings, Mughal Emperor Nuruddin Salim Jehangir. He seems to be a most pliable chap.

Ever the servant of His Majesty James I,

And with the utmost regards to the Company,

Sir Thomas Roe

India                                                                                                                                      May 1612