I watched a documentary yesterday on James Watt and the steam engine invented by him. It’s a masterpiece for start-ups. Watt had developed a steam engine that was far more efficient than the ones being used before. Their main field of employment were mines in Cornwall, where huge water pumps were needed to pump the water out of the mining tunnels. However, as those first generation steam engines were so inefficient, they consumed so much coal, that the whole mining industry in the area was short of bankruptcy when Watt invented his engine.
However, his engine was more expensive than the older ones. But it was a lot more powerful, too. Now how do you convince a mine-owner to buy a much stronger steam engine, when he doesn’t understand the advantages, as he sees only the higher price, which he cannot even afford? – Very simple: instead of selling the engine let him rent the machine for a price of one-third of the amount of money that he is now saving. AND, and here is the clue: invent a new measuring unit that he understands. Every miner of those days knew how much a horse was able to move. Watt therefore invented a new power unit, which he called Horsepower. With this intervention into the system of measurement and communication he was extremely successful and able to beat his competitors with the older engines.