I’m In It For The Challenge, Pt 1

I’ve fielded some great questions about Grocio since February. But the one question and one comment that keep playing in my head came from John O’Connor here in Tulsa and John Battelle. Mr. O’Connor asked, “Why this? Why now?” And, Mr. Battelle’s observation some moons ago was. “Wow, that sounds hard as hell.” GROCIO is my little startup and is all about the grocery space online.

Mr. Battelle’s right. It is going to be hard. That’s a significant part of the challenge to me. Doing something that hasn’t been tackled before because of the size and complexity of the problem. (I would have loved to have been working on the moon shot.) Let me tee this up somewhat close to properly:35,000 or so grocers in the U.S. with somewhere in the neighborhood of 170,000 UPCs in their stock registry. They don’t carry that much inventory at any given time, obviously. But, still, it’s important to know what’s on their list of possibles.

35K x 170K = 5,950,000,000 cells in a spreadsheet (if you’re thinking of this in cell-like format). Almost 6 Trillion entries. Let’s say each of those entries averaged 2Kb in size. 12 Trillion Kb comes out to 12 Petabytes.

All of a sudden your talking huge data churn on massive data sets. After all – all of those prices could (potentially) change daily. They won’t. But they could. Factor in historicals for trending (ala FareCast) plus compressed backups and you have one big monster on your hands. And we’ve only discussed storage issues. Which, by the way, remind me of the seismic data sets my buddies work with all day long. No biggie.

The thing about all of this is the business model. THAT is what really turns me on. The intellectual property aspect. How to make revenues scale. How to build a massively transactional site. Hiring great people. Attracting the right funding sources. Learning new stuff. Every. Single. Day. Gotta love that.

I’m totally in it for the challenge.

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