Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 2007 horror musical comedy film directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaptation a Tony Award-winning musical from 1979. It tells the Victorian melodramatic tale of Sweeney Todd, an English barber and serial killer who murders his customers with a straight razor and, with the help of his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, processes their corpses into meat pies. Gross, I know, but it’s Halloween so bare with me.
What business plans could you derive from the horrible tale? Matt Cohen explains:
Sweeney Todd is a case study in vertical integration. Sweeney Todd (of Sweeney Todd’s Tonsorial Parlor) and Mrs. Lovett (of Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies) join forces in a common venture. Specifically, he kills some of his customers and then she bakes them into meat pies.
After you’re done gagging, consider what this does to their supply chain. First, look at the supply chain of Ms. Mooney’s Pie Shop, one of Mrs. Lovett’s competitors:
The product moves down the supply chain towards the customers, while the money moves in the opposite direction towards the suppliers. In the middle of the chain, Mrs. Mooney only keeps of portion of the revenue and passes the rest upstream to her suppliers.
Now look at Mrs. Lovett’s supply chain:
Not only is she sharing the profits with her supplier, but she also has money coming in from both ends of the supply chain! The customers that Sweeney kills still pay for their haircuts, which is a lot of money when you remember that a Sweeney Todd haircut costs exactly the amount of money they have in their wallets. (And, since they won’t be needing their wallets anymore as they take a trip to the meat grinder, Sweeney and Lovett will keep the wallet, too.)
Can this model be duplicated for a business that doesn’t involve cannibalism? To a point, but it’s tricky. A more modern/legal version of this would be a hub for user-generated content where one set of end users pay for the content and another set of users pays for the privilege of having their content distributed.