Steve Jobs told us that, “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Similarly, Henry Ford (reputedly) said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Where are we going? To the ice we didn’t know we wanted.
Greenland has good ice. Because of the entrepreneur that started Arctic Ice, Dubai’s bars are starting to use it. Arctic Ice tells us that the ice, having been compressed for close to 100,000 years, is better than the mineral water cubes that now prevail in Dubai’s bars. Instead, the glacial cubes (are they cubes?) melt more slowly and have no bubbles. Uncontaminated by human contact, they are pure.
Harvesting glacial ice, you need to locate the pure part that had no contact with the outer surface of the glacier. Then, moving from a crane that lifts it to a shipping crate, the ice sails for the UAE with a stop in Denmark.
This is one of the boats:
And this is the route:
(Thinking of the Houthis, I wonder if the ice is making it through the Red Sea.)
Ice history starts with another entrepreneur. During 1806. living on his family estate in Massachusetts, Frederic Tudor realized that the people in Central America could use the ice from his frozen pond. But when he tried to raise enough money to send an 80-ton shipment of ice to Martinique, friends and neighbors thought he was crazy. So, he self-funded the venture and it flopped. The ice arrived intact, but no one wanted to buy any.
Persisting, Tudor offered free ice at bars, convinced doctors that ice would help feverish patients, and secured monopolies. By mid-century, the cold drink habit had spread from Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, and Havana to Calcutta and beyond. Meanwhile back in London, it was said that Queen Victoria of England would only use Massachusetts ice from Wenham Lake in her drinks.
Rather astoundingly, for months, the ice really did not melt as it moved around the world:
Our Bottom Line: Entrepreneurs
Today, more than ice, we are talking about entrepreneurs.
Different from what we expect, there is more to an entrepreneur than starting a business. As economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) explained, entrepreneurs are the source of “creative destruction” because their businesses render others obsolete. With their new products and processes, entrepreneurs create jobs, progress and productivity. They change consumer habits, develop new means of production and new forms of economic organization. Not necessarily concerned with risk, they are unusually focused on making a difference in the world.
As a result, we can debate if the ice business created real entrepreneurs. However, returning to Steve Jobs, they did show us what we should want.
My sources and more: Thanks to Marginal Revolution for alerting me to the upside of glacial ice. Beginning with an article in The Guardian and then one on Alaska’s glacial ice, I discovered several unknown entrepreneurs. As for Frederic Tudor and Joseph Schumpeter, I quoted several section of previous econlife posts. In addition, I should note that I could not fact check the merits of glacial ice. While Greenland’s ice has no bubbles, Alaska’s does. Who knows???
Our featured image is from Alaska Glacial Ice.