If you haven’t heard the story of Caine’s arcade then stop reading now and go check it out.
Back? Ok, we can get started.
This story has gripped the internet for so many reasons. Young Caine is inspirational, a story of childhood dreams realized. Caine also represents pure, unblemished entrepreneurship freed from the bounds of conformity or the realization that maybe this is just too difficult to accomplish. We are impressed by his drive, the fact the he sat outside that arcade day after day after spending an entire summer building it out of old boxes. His ingenuity and problem solving is similarly impressive; he solves problems with elbow grease, and has “bootstrapped” every aspect of his business.
Interestingly, there are many takeaways from this story that aren’t of the feel good variety. Namely, young Caine has built repeatable processes into his arcade from the beginning, and has automated time consuming tasks wherever he can. For example, take a look at the ingenious way that he validates fun passes. While it would take a cruel-hearted individual to try to scam him, Caine has nevertheless taken the initiative and developed a security system for the fun passes. He has done so by placing calculators on the games and requiring the entry of a number that must then match the square of the number on their fun pass. I’m making this sound way more complicated that it is, (Cain just says, “Enter the number then press the check symbol!”) yet the fact that he already accounted for an issue and instituted a repeatable process to prevent it shows foresight that some million-dollar businesses lack.
Further, Caine shows acumen by taking customer comments into account. He discusses the fact that one of his games was deemed too easy by one client, and shows how he upped the skill level to match demand. This iterative thinking permeates business theory and serves to remind us that, ultimately, we must pivot or fail. Again, if everystartup business were to take this idea to heart, they would likely have a much greater chance of success.
So, with all the best wishes in the world to Caine, I hope we can tip our hats and learn something from this clever entrepreneur. He has certainly had his day, and if he continues with the intelligence he has put into the first project, he will almost certainly find success in his future endeavors.