I’m just back from the annual Association of Independent Information Professionals conference, which was held in sunny Irvine, California. I have a very inspirational story to share along with some insights in to entrepreneurship.

It was another great conference this year and one of the highlights was Peter Derycz’ presentation on Productizing Your Service: Lessons from a Life of Infopreneurship. Peter is the CEO of Reprints Desk, an article solution and document delivery service, but the company did not start with a vision of itself as it is today. Peter told us about starting out making journal article copies as part of his work study duties for professors at UCLA. Later, he moved up the value chain to charging $0.85 for article photocopies that he prepared himself—powered by M&M’s. Subsequently, he established InfoTrieve and he learned on the fly about the information industry, including the Dialog information system and the ins and outs of copyright clearance issues. That company became a dominate player in document delivery services.

Peter Deryczm, left, with Roger Summit, the founder of Dialog Information Systems, which revolutionized online searching.

Peter Deryczm, left, with Roger Summit, the founder of Dialog Information Systems, which revolutionized online searching.

So take a page out of the book of a serial entrepreneur:

  • Connect with customers by providing a service they value
  • Develop your competitive instinct
  • Learn on the fly
  • Invest in technology that will deepen your value to the customer

Peter has started two reprints services companies so far, and he believes that productization of services allowed him to grow his second company, Reprints Desk, as fast in 7 years as he did in 25 years with his first company. Really! That made me sit up and listen.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘productization’, here’s a definition from Investorpedia:
To take a new service, product or product feature – that a company has provided to a single customer or a few customers on a custom basis – and turn it into a standard, fully tested, packaged, supported and marketed product.

Here’s why Peter thinks we should consider turning our services into a product:

4 reasons to productize 3

It was info-church! He was preaching to librarians about the value stored in their libraries and he showed what an entrepreneur can do with that information. And he did it with enthusiasm and stories from his life that really resonated, not just with me, but with the whole audience. He had us in the palm of his hand, and the way he wove it into his life-story was enchanting. I’ve already pitched the idea of having him present for other library and information research groups.

Meanwhile, let’s get busy productizing!