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Plunge: Inverted Pyramid Entrepreneurship


January 6, 2010

Posted by jimprice in Business, Entrepreneurship.
James D. Price | Adjunct Lecturer of Entrepreneurial Studies | Ross School of Business | University of Michigan


In my last post, “If Bono Were a Businessman” (1/03/10), I declared that the phenomenon I’m labeling Inverted Pyramid Entrepreneurship will become the business macro-trend driving economic growth and vitality worldwide in the 2010’s decade.  I defined inverted pyramid entrepreneurship as follows:

“The rise of tens of millions of individual entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, all empowered by ubiquitous information, always-on broadband Internet, inexpensive IT utilities and building blocks, free one-to-many and many-to-many communication, smartphones with 3G and 4G networks, etc., who figure out a way to make a living doing what they do well and enjoy doing…”

Should you interpret by this definition that inverted pyramid entrepreneurs are all technologists, or that that they’re all crafting and launching tech-based businesses?  Absolutely not! 

Let’s take a look at some widely varied examples of inverted pyramid entrepreneurs.  First off, I’d like to cite my dear old friend, jazz composer/trombonist/bandleader Mark McGrain, who happens to be major mover on the New Orleans and national music scenes.

McGrain has  formed and leads the innovative jazz trio Plunge ( that also features saxophonist Tim Green (a veteran sideman of the likes of Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel and Cyril Neville) and bassist James Singleton (known as a member of Astral Project, who’s also played with countless stars ranging from Aarron Nevill to Joe Henderson and Milt Jackson).

Plunge’s latest album, “Dancing on Thin Ice,” has received breathtakingly positive reviews from the everyone from ArtsJournal (“Plunge is among the best post-Katrina jazz developments in New Orleans music…” to DownBeat Magazine (“Soulful, vivacious.  Plunge delivers grooves as wide as a house…” ).

Here’s what Mark said about how he fits into the inverted pyramid entrepreneur paradigm: 

“As an independent artist marketing product in this shifting universe, I’ve been flying around just beneath the rapidly forming ‘cloud’ of stream-able assets and the ‘less of more’ profit perspective.  Being an improviser and ‘free radical’ by nature, composer by mission, and entrepreneur by necessity, I’m actually really excited about the possibilities beginning to glisten out there.” 

The man’s pursuing his life’s passion: composing, performing and recording music!  But meanwhile, as an inverted pyramid entrepreneur, Mark is taking full advantage of the democratizing effects of technology. 

He’s put up his own website ( which is constantly refreshed with new material and links to new music reviews, interviews, and so on.  From the website, you can listen to sample recordings to get a flavor for their latest album’s music.  Alternatively, you can click and watch a YouTube music video of the band. 

He’s also taking full advantage of the power of social networking, with a great Facebook fan page (

Then from any number of convenient places on the website or the fanpage (say, after reading  a compelling review, or after listening to a sample), you can click and purchase the album  in either CD or MP3 download format ( 

And here’s the killer:  McGrain self-recorded and produced the album in the wooden front room of his and Cheryl’s old New Orleans  wooden colonial house.

New Orleans musician Mark McGrain is a classic “inverted pyramid entrepreneur” — that is, he’s taking full advantage of the democratizing power of today’s Internet, computer and communications technology to be his own boss.  That makes Mark a living example of one of life’s most elemental guideposts:  Do what you love, and love what you do.


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