Being all things for everyone is a formula for defeat in many business sectors. ElastomerSolutions.com—recently sold by its founders to a larger Internet exchange—is the latest example.
ElastomerSolutions started with a lot of promise and promises. It wanted to be a "neutral electronic marketplace" for the elastomers industry. It aimed to "provide a network for rubber processors, industry suppliers and service providers, making it easy and convenient to transact business, find information and work together." It hoped to "benefit all industry stakeholders by opening new markets, facilitating knowledge-sharing, enhancing service levels, reducing costs to serve and improving customer/supplier relationships."
Those are lofty, admirable goals that would benefit the business. They also largely are contrary to the dynamics of the rubber industry, where "do unto others before they do it to you" is the motto. It's a conservative business typically reluctant to change, based too much on volume sales and discounting.
ElastomerSolutions tried to drag the rubber industry into the Internet age and create a Web-based community out of the business. It promised a site offering combined product catalogs, various directories, even a news feed.
All this cost money. Ultimately, ElastomerSolutions' principals opted to sell out to Elemica, the new and larger chemical e-marketplace. This still gives the suppliers the Internet exchange opportunity without, presumably, the effort and high cost of doing it themselves.
Their expectations won't be as lofty with Elemica, but the benefits should be more tangible.