Seth’s Blog : The taxi or the cruise ship?

The taxi or the cruise ship?
The successful cab owner knows this:

  • Every ride is custom
  • People choose a cab precisely because they can ride alone, on their own terms
  • Empty trips are part of the job, and it’s okay, because the next ride will pay for it.

On the other hand, the person who chooses to run a cruise line knows:

  • Every cruise is designed by me, and people sign up precisely because I chose well
  • People choose a cruise ship to be with other people, to benefit from economies of scale and to be part of something
  • Empty trips (or worse, half-empty trips) can put the line out of business

It’s pretty easy to get into the cab business. Do a few rides for friends, then list online, or join Lyft, then go full-time.

On the other hand, it’s much more difficult to get into the cruise business. There’s a critical mass, and the minimum number is a lot more than one customer.

Each business can be a good one if you do it at the appropriate scale.

The warning, and the purpose of the metaphor, is to realize that it’s not a matter of gradually going from one to the other. Remember that running a taxi is a fine sort of business, but don’t expect to turn it into a cruise ship. And vice versa.


Great metaphor that illustrates a point many founders miss.   Running a fleet of taxis is not the same as running a fleet of ships.