Markets in Everything: Mobile Visa Processing
The Lucky Dragon Mobile Visa Consultants provide a mobile solution to some inefficient Chinese bureaucracy. The rented Penske truck (pictured above with some satisfied customers) is parked in front of the Chinese consulate in New York City every day, with two Mac laptops and a printer to help frustrated visa applicants print out the correct visa forms. The long, complicated visa forms available online from China's consulate are usually not the correct visa applications, and many frustrated applicants show up with the wrong visa forms.
The correct forms are not available at the inconveniently-located consulate on NYC's West Side Highway, and the only help the consulate officials provide is to direct frustrated applicants to an internet cafe in a Burger King a half-mile away, where they can go online and print out the correct forms. After experiencing the frustration himself a few months ago, entrepreneur Adam Humphries, immediately started the mobile visa processing business in October with some friends, and their business is booming. They grossed nearly $10,000 in the first month.
Read more here at Planet Money: "A Man, A Plan, A Surprising Business Plan." It's a great "Markets in Everything" story, and demonstrates how most successful businesses are started with the express goal of trying to solve other people's problems. It's an example of the invisible hand of the free market at work, compared to the visible boot of the government.
Update: "Capitalists seek to discover what people want and then produce it as efficiently as possible." ~Walter Williams in his column today, "I Love Greed."