kottke.org posts about Matt Linderman

Small batch businessesSep 09 2009

A few weeks ago, Matt Linderman asked the readers of 37signals' Signal vs. Noise blog for suggestions for a word or phrase to describe a certain type of small, focused company.

Sometimes I'm looking for a word to describe a certain kind of company. One that's small and cares about quality and is trying to do something great for a few customers instead of trying to mass produce crap in order to maximize profit. A company like Coudal Partners or Zingerman's.

Boutique was deemed too pretentious...small, indie, and QOQ didn't cut it either. Readers offered up craftsman, artisan, bespoke, cloudless, studio, atelier, long tail, agile, bonsai company, mom and pop, small scale, specialty, anatomic, big heart, GTD business, dojo, haus, temple, coterie, and disco business, but none of those seems quite right.

I've had this question rolling around in the back of my mind since Matt posted it and this morning, a potential answer came to me: small batch. As in: "37signals is a small batch business." The term is most commonly applied to bourbon whiskey:

A small batch bourbon is made for the true connoisseur, every sip a testament to the work and love that has gone into each handcrafted bottle.

but can also be used to describe small quantities of high quality products such as other spirits, baked goods, coffee, beer, and wine. When starting a small company that makes high quality web sites (Wikirank) and apps (Typekit), some friends of mine in San Francisco even picked the phrase for their company's name: Small Batch, Inc.

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