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5. The Weasley Twins as Entrepreneurs

When Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts by train for the first time, he meets the 11-years old Ron Weasley and his family including the twins Fred and George, both 13 years old. The twins are very lively and are always making jokes. Ron explains:

    'Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny.' (1-6-75)

Throughout the books the twins are a lively element in the story. They have three elder brothers who have respectable careers at Hogwarts, but Fred and George seem to have other plans. Their mother complains:

    'Those two!' and Harry knew she meant Fred and George. 'I don't know what's going to happen to them, I really don't. No ambition, unless you count making as much trouble as they possibly can ...' (4-5-68)

During books 4 and 5 Fred and George develop a vision of starting a joke shop where they can sell magical jokes of their own invention. Especially in book 5 the author tells the detailed story of the two entrepreneurs and their project all mixed up with the other parts of the story.

The twins take care not to show their plans too openly their mother does not think running a joke shop is a suitable career for them (5-6-98).

5.a Fred and George's Strategy

At the beginning of book 5 the twins are 17 years old. They have a strategy consisting of:

  1. Market research to find out exactly what the average Hogwarts student requires from a joke shop
  2. Carefully evaluate the results of the research
  3. Then produce products to fit the demand

In Fred's wording:

    '... we feel our futures lie outside the world of academic achievement.' ...

    'We're not going to waste our last year here, though,' said Fred, looking affectionately around at the Great Hall. 'We're going to use it to do a bit of market research, find out exactly what the average Hogwarts student requires from a joke shop, carefully evaluate the results of our research, then produce products to fit the demand.'

    'But where are you going to get the gold to start a joke shop?' Hermione asked sceptically. 'You're going to need all the ingredients and materials and premises too, I suppose ...'

    [Fred:] 'Ask us no questions and we'll tell you no lies, Hermione. C'mon, George, if we get there early we might be able to sell a few Extendable Ears before Herbology.' (5-12-205)

5.b Financial Troubles

The twins are developing and selling magical jokes through books 4 and 5. In the beginning of book 4 Fred declares:

    'We've got big plans for this money, we don't want it confiscated.' (4-9-132)

The twins attend the Quidditch World Cup and bet a large amount with Ludo Bagman, one of their father's colleagues at the Ministry of Magic. They bet on the result of the World Cup, and the twins win, but Ludo Bagman never pays them, meaning that Fred and George loose the money.

At the end of book 4 Harry Potter gives his winning from the Triwizard tournament to the twins as an initial capital:

    Harry pulled open his trunk and drew out his Triwizard winnings. ...

    'You take it, and get inventing. It's for the joke-shop.' ... 'I don't want it and I don't need it. But I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I've got a feeling we're going to need them more than usual before long.'

    'Harry,' said George weakly, weighing the money bag in his hands, 'there's got to be a thousand Galleons in here.'

    'Yeah,' said Harry, grinning. 'Think how many canary creams that is.' (4-37-794 f.)

Later Harry gets cold feet because of the gift he does not want the twins' parents to be angry with him because of his financing of the joke shop (5-9-156).

In the beginning of book 5 the twins have the money, but they are still in need of premises for their shop. For the time being they use mail-order and advertisements in the Daily Prophet (5-6-97 f.).

5.c Product Development and Marketing

Jokes described in book 4:

1. Ton-Tongue Toffees: These toffees make your tongue grow. When leaving for the Quidditch World Cup from home, the twins try to smuggle as many toffees out of the house as possible, but their mother searches them:

    ... 'We spent six months developing those!' Fred shouted at his mother, as she threw the toffees away. (4-6-79 f.)

2. Canary Creams transform you into a large canary:

    'Canary Creams!' Fred shouted to the excitable crowd. 'George and I invented them seven Sickles each, bargain!' (4-21-402)

In book 5 the twins choose the name Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes and develop a lot of different joke products for their new firm:

3. Extendable Ears let you listen to what is happening on the other side of a door:

    'Fred and George have invented Extendable Ears, se,' said Ron. 'They're really useful.' (5-1-65)

4. Skiving Snackboxes is a range of sweets that makes you ill. George:

    '... not seriously ill, mind, just ill enough to get you out of a class when you feel like it. Fred and I have been developing them this summer. They're double-ended, colour-coded chews. If you eat the orange half of the Puking Pastilles, you throw up. Moment you've been rushed out of the lesson for the hospital wing, you swallow the purple half ...'

    [Fred:]' which restores you to full fitness, enabling you to pursue the leisure activity of your own choice during an hour that would otherwise have been devoted to unprofitable boredom." That's what we're putting in the adverts, anyway'. ... 'At the moment our testers are having a bit of trouble stopping themselves puking long enough to swallow the purple end.'

    'Testers?'

    'Us,' said Fred. 'We take it in turns. George did the Fainting Fancies we both tried the Nosebleed Nougat '

    'Mum thought we'd been duelling,' said George.(5-6-97 f.)

Excerpt from the above: The twins are aware of that maybe the promise is not correct, but they have a good idea of which messages that will sell the product:

    That's what we're putting in the adverts, anyway'

They are so full of ideas that they even might collide with the rules their father is enforcing as a civil servant in the Ministry. Now they are negotiating with the rather fishy character Mundungus Fletcher:

    'Venomous Tentacula seeds,' said George. 'We need them for the Skiving Snackboxes but they're a Class C Non-Tradeable Substance so we've been having a bit of trouble getting hold of them.' (5-9-156)

5. Nosebleed Nougat: The twins have an offer for Ron. It is a bargain, because the twins have no antidote yet:

    [Fred:] 'You can have a bit of Nosebleed Nougat cheap if you like.'

    'Why's it cheap?' said Ron suspiciously.

    'Because you'll keep bleeding till you shrivel up, we haven't got an antidote yet,' said George, helping himself to a kipper. (5-12-204)

6. Fainting Fancies User Test: Hermione is a newly-appointed prefect, and she wants to stop Fred and George from paying first-years for taking part in the user test:

GALLONS OF GALLEONS!

Pocket money failing to keep pace with your outgoings?

Like to earn a little extra gold?

Contact Fred and George Weasley, Gryffindor common room, for simple, part-time, virtually painless jobs. (We regret that all work is undertaken at applicant's own risk.) (5-12-200)

    [In] the far corner of the room, where Fred, George and Lee Jordan were now sitting at the centre of a knot of innocent-looking first-years, all of whom were chewing something that seemed to have come out of a large paper bag that Fred was holding. ...

    One by one, as though hit over the head with an invisible mallet, the first-years were slumping unconscious in their seats; some slid right on to the floor, others merely hung over the arms of their chairs, their tongues lolling out. Most of the people watching were laughing; Hermione, however, squared her shoulders and marched directly over to where Fred and George now stood with clipboards, closely observing the unconscious first-years. ...

    'That's enough!' Hermione said forcefully to Fred and George, both of whom looked up in mild surprise.

    'Yeah, you're right,' said George, nodding, 'this dosage looks strong enough, doesn't it?'

    [Hermione:] 'I told you this morning, you can't test your rubbish on students!'

    'We're paying them!' said Fred indignantly. ...

    [Hermione:] 'You can't do this, what if you made one of them really ill?'

    'We're not going to make them ill, we've already tested them all on ourselves, this is just to see if everyone reacts the same '

    [Hermione:] 'If you don't stop doing it, I'm going to ... write to your mother.' ... 'I can't stop you eating the stupid things yourselves, but you're not to give them to the first-years.'

    Fred and George looked thunderstruck. It was clear that as far as they were concerned, Hermione's threat was way below the belt. (5-13-229 f.)

7. Projectile-Vomiting: Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to make their homework. It is difficult, because Fred and George have finally perfected the vomiting part of the Skiving Snackboxes. They take turns to demonstrate it to a cheering and whooping crowd:

    First, Fred would take a bite out of the orange end of a chew, at which he would vomit spectacularly into a bucket they had placed in front of them. Then he would force down the purple end of the chew, at which the vomiting would immediately cease. ...

Harry, Ron and Hermione are disturbed by the sounds of retching, cheering and the sound of Fred and George taking advance orders from the crowd. Harry wants Hermione to use her prefect's rights to stop the show.

    'I can't, they're not technically doing anything wrong,' said Hermione through gritted teeth. 'They're quite within their rights to eat the foul things themselves and I can't find a rule that says the other idiots aren't entitled to buy them, not unless they're proven to be dangerous in some way and it doesn't look as though they are.'

    She, Harry and Ron watched George projectile-vomit into the bucket, gulp down the rest of the chew and straighten up, beaming with his arms wide to protracted applause.

    [Harry:] ... They really know their stuff.'

    'Oh, they only know flashy stuff that's of no real use to anyone,' said Hermione disparagingly.

    'No real use?' said Ron in a strained voice. 'Hermione, they've made about twenty-six Galleons already.'

    It was a long while before the crowd around the Weasley twins dispersed, then Fred, Lee and George sat up counting their takings even longer ... (5-17-327 f.)

8. Fever Fudge: Fred and George are wondering how to avoid Quidditch practice on a stormy day but the Fever Fudge is not quite ready yet:

    'We could try the Fever Fudge,' George muttered, 'no one's seen that yet '

    'Does it work?' enquired Ron hopefully, ...

    'Well, yeah,' said Fred, 'your temperature'll go right up.'

    'But you get these massive pus-filled boils, too,' said George, 'and we haven't worked out how to get rid of them yet.'

    'I can't see any boils,' said Ron, staring at the twins.

    'No, well, you wouldn't,' said Fred darkly, 'they're not in a place we generally display to the public.' (5-18-336)

9. Headless Hats: Once again, the common room was packed and full of shrieks of laughter and excitement; Fred and George were demonstrating their latest bit of joke shop merchandise, and Hermione cannot disguise her admiration:

    'Headless Hats!' shouted George, as Fred waved a pointed hat decorated with a fluffy pink feather at the watching students. 'Two Galleons each, watch Fred now!'

    Fred swept the hat on to his head, beaming. For a second he merely looked rather stupid; then both hat and head vanished.

    Several girls screamed, but everyone else was roaring with laughter.

    'And off again!' shouted George, and Fred's hand groped for a moment in what seemed to be thin air over his shoulder; then his head reappeared as he swept the pink-feathered hat from it.

    'How do those hats work, then?' said Hermione, distracted from her homework and watching Fred and George closely. 'I mean, obviously it's some kind of Invisibility spell, but it's rather clever to have extended the field of invisibility beyond the boundaries of the charmed object. ... I'd imagine the charm wouldn't have a very long life though.' (5-24-477)

In chapter 26, the twins find a solution to the Fever Fudge boils, and the development of the Snackboxes is finished (5-26-506)

Joke described in book 6:

10. Exploding Telescope: The following summer Harry stays in Fred and George's bedroom, which serves as a temporary warehouse for the twins. Hermione and Ron calls Harry in the morning, and they are discussing what is ready for the joke shop:

    Though a large vase of flowers had been placed on a desk in front of the small window, their perfume could not disguise the lingering smell of what Harry thought was gunpowder. A considerable amount of floor space was devoted to a vast number of unmarked, sealed cardboard boxes. ... Hermione was peering into Fred and George's boxes, ...

    'What's this?' Hermione asked eventually, holding up what looked like a small telescope.

    'Dunno,' said Ron, 'but if Fred and George've left it here, it's probably not ready for the joke shop yet, so be careful.'

    ... Then there was a loud bang and Hermione vanished behind a puff of black smoke....

    Hermione emerged, coughing, out of the smoke, clutching the telescope and sporting a brilliantly purple black eye.

    'I squeezed it and it it punched me!' she gasped.

    And sure enough, they now saw a tiny fist on a long spring protruding from the end of the telescope. (6-5-87 f., 6-5-95 f.)

In chapter 15 it is described how Fred and George are able to distribute love potions from Diagon Alley to their customers at Hogwarts in spite of the school's general prohibition of Fred and George's jokes. They use their Owl Order Service distribution:

    'Fred and George send them disguised as perfumes and couch potions,' said Hermione. 'It's part of their Owl Order Service.' ... 'It was all on the back of the bottles they showed Ginny and me in the summer,' she said coldly. (6-15-287)

Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder described at page 6-29-576.

5.d Leaving Full-time Education

During book 5 the Headmaster of Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore is forced to leave, and the new High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge takes all of the fun out of school life. Fred and George decide that they won't care about getting into trouble any more. With Dumbledore gone they reckon a bit of mayhem is exactly what the new Head deserves. (5-28-552 f.) The twins set up a magical firework all over the school, and Umbridge don't know how to stop it. From a commercial point of view it is a pity that they have used all of their stock for the happening but Fred and George are not forgetting to take advance orders:

    Fred and George were heroes that night in the Gryffindor common room. Even Hermione fought her way through the excited crowd to congratulate them.

    'They were wonderful fireworks,' she said admiringly.

    'Thanks,' said George, looking both surprised and pleased. 'Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs. Only thing is, we used our whole stock; we're going to have to start again from scratch now.'

    'It was worth it, though,' said Fred, who was taking orders from clamouring gryffindors. 'If you want to add your name to the waiting list, Hermione, it's five galleons for your Basic Blaze box and twenty for the Deflagration Deluxe ...' (5-28-558 f.)

The twins continue to challenge the new head of school, and some days later they are exposed with a Portable Swamp. Because of the shouting most of the school is assembled at the Entrance Hall:

    Fred and George ... stood in the middle of the floor with the unmistakeable look of two people who had just been cornered.

    'So!' said Umbridge triumphantly. ... 'So you think it amusing to turn a school corridor into a swamp, do you?'

    'Pretty amusing, yeah,' said Fred, looking up at her without the slightest sign of fear. ...

    'You two,' she went on, gazing down at Fred and George, 'are about to learn what happens to wrongdoers in my school.'

    'George,' said Fred, 'I think we've outgrown full-time education.' (5-29-593 f.)

Caught in the act, they prepare to flight from the school with their brooms. Still, they take advantage of any chance to distribute their marketing message:

    'If anyone fancies buying a Portable Swamp, as demonstrated upstairs, come to number ninety-three, Diagon Alley Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes,' he said in a loud voice. 'Our new premises!'

    'Special discounts to Hogwarts students who swear they're going to use our products to get rid of this old bat,' added George, pointing at Professor Umbridge (5-29-595)

The twins fly away to number 93, Diagon Alley, and they experience an immediate success. When the other pupils arrive at King's Cross Station for the summer holiday, Fred and George are both wearing brand-new jackets in some lurid green, scaly material. Ron takes a close look at the twins' new clothes:

    'What are they supposed to be?' he asked, pointing at the jackets.

    'Finest dragonskin, little bro,' said Fred, giving his zip a little tweak. 'Business is booming and we thought we'd treat ourselves.' (5-38-764)

The following August Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny pay a visit to the shop, and Fred is proud of the WonderWitch products:

    'Follow me, ladies ... Best range of love potions you'll find anywhere.'

    Ginny raised an eyebrow sceptically. 'Do they work?'

    'Certainly they work, for up to twenty-four hours at a time depending on the weight of the boy in question ... and the attractiveness of the girl,' (6-6-117)

5.e Success and Further Plans

Mrs. Weasley approves the business: In book 6, Harry comes to see Ron and his family. Fred and George have moved to a little flat over their joke shop because they are very busy, and Mrs. Weasley must confess:

    'I must say, I didn't approve at first, but they do seem to have a bit of a flair for business!' (6-5-87)

When Harry and his friends visit the shop in August, the shop is so packed with customers that they cannot get near the shelves. Seen from the street:

    Fred and George's windows hit the eye like a firework display. Casual passers-by were looking back over their shoulders at the windows, and a few rather stunned-looking people had actually come to a halt, transfixed. The left-hand window was dazzlingly full of an assortment of goods that revolved, popped, flashed, bounced and shrieked. ... The right-hand window was covered with a gigantic poster:

Why Are You Worrying About You-Know-Who?

You SHOULD Be Worrying About U-NO-POO

the Constipation Sensation That's Gripping the Nation! (6-6-112 f.)

The twins have a shop worker named Verity. She wears magenta staff robes (6-6-116).

A Serious Product Line: The twins have experienced a boom in a more serious product line: Protecting gear like Shield Hats. The reason is that many people working at the Ministry cannot do the Shield Charms they are supposed to know. For this reason the Ministry has bought 500 hats for the support staff. This has been the reason for the twins to expand into more products: Shield Cloaks, Shield Gloves, etc.:

    'And then we thought we'd get into the whole area of Defence Against the Dark Arts, because it's such a moneyspinner,' continued George enthusiastically. (6-6-115 f.)

A New Branch in Hogsmeade? When Harry and his friends visit Hogsmeade, Zonko's Joke Shop appears to be closed (6-12-228). At Ron's birthday Fred shows up and tells, that he and George are thinking of buying Zonko's as a new branch of their business. The new shop would be a way to reach their Hogwarts customers. On the other hand the twins experience problems with strict security rules on Hogwarts:

    'We were thinking of buying Zonko's' said Fred ... 'A Hogsmeade branch, you know, but a fat lot of good it'll do us if you lot aren't allowed out at weekends to buy our stuff any more.' (6-19-374)

If the twins continue this way, then it won't be long before they can make a proud statement as "Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes - London, Paris, Hogsmeade" just like the fashion advertisement at the Quidditch World Cup: "Gladrags Wizardwear - London, Paris, Hogsmeade (4-8-109)"

New dresses once again: In the end of book 6 Fred and George appear wearing jackets of black dragonskin. (6-30-597)

5.f Fred and George's Product Range

In order of appearance:

Ton-Tongue Toffees

4-6-79

Canary Creams

4-21-402

Extendable Ears

5-1-65, 5-12-205, 6-6-121

Fever Fudge

5-18-336

Headless Hats

5-24-477

Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs Basic Blaze box and

Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs Deflagration Deluxe

5-28-558 f.

Portable Swamp

5-29-595

U-NO-POO the Constipation Sensation That's Gripping the Nation!

6-6-113

Skiving Snackboxes: Nosebleed Nougat

5-12-204, 5-17-327, 6-6-113

Trick wands, the cheapest merely turning into rubber chickens or pairs of pants when waved; the most expensive beating the unwary user around the head and neck

6-6-114

Quills in Self-Inking,

Spell-Checking and

Smart-Answer varieties

6-6-114

Reusable Hangman - Spell It Or He'll Swing!

6-6-114

Patented Daydream Charms

6-6-114

Muggle Magic Tricks

6-6-115

Shield Hats,

Shield Cloaks,

Shield Gloves

6-6-115

Instant Darkness Powder imported from Peru

6-6-116, 6-29-576

Decoy Detonators

6-6-116

Joke Cauldrons

6-6-116

WonderWitch products - love potions

6-6-117

Guaranteed Ten-Second Pimple Vanisher - Excellent on everything from boils to blackheads

6-6-117

Pygmy Puffs - Miniature puffskeins

6-6-118

Patented Daydream Charms are described this way:

'One simple incantation and you will enter a top-quality, highly realistic thirty-minute daydream, easy to fit into the average school lesson and virtually undetectable (side-effects include vacant expression and minor drooling). Not for sale to under-sixteens.' (6-6-114)

5.g SWOT Diagram for Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes

Strengths

Weaknesses

The twins have a developed strategy (5-12-205)

Appealing products and a clear marketing message (5-29-593 etc.)

Business is booming (5-38-764)

Continued development of new products with promising business opportunities: Shield Hats, etc. (6-6-115)

New channel for distribution: Owl order service (6-15-287)

Use of toxic ingredients that might harm the customers (5-9-156)

Fred and George may be attacked by Voldemort, because they are showing they despise him (6-6-112 f.)

Opportunities

Threats

Wizards' children seem very interested in magical jokes (6-6-112)

The Ministry of Magic wants protecting tools for the employees (6-6-115)

"We could all do with a few laughs" (4-37-794 f.)

The magical society is at war against Voldemort customers are scared in the magical society (6-6-112)

Strict security measures against bringing magical joke products to Hogwarts (6-6-112)

5.h Analysis of the Weasley Twins as Entrepreneurs

Does the twins' business observe Schumpeter's six criteria from section 2.b?

Schumpeter's six criteria from section 2.b:

Evaluation of the twins' business

Criteria met?

1

The innovation is a discontinuous, irreversible change

Fred and George open a new shop in Diagon Alley with a lot of new products.

Yes

2

The innovation is the introduction to the market, not the preceding invention of the product or service

The twins at first invented the jokes, and afterwards introduced them to the market. See comment below.

Yes

3

It is carried through by a newly established entrepreneur

They are newly established entrepreneurs who have not been shopkeepers before

Yes

4

It is carried through in a newly established firm

Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes is a newly established firm

Yes

5

It is carried through with borrowed money

The twins have financed the shop with the gift from Harry Potter. See comment below.

Yes?

6

It is carried through with resources that so far has been used elsewhere

The twins are using premises that must have been used to another purpose. They have hired at least one shop worker (6-6-116)

Yes

Comments:

  • Evaluation no. 2: For Schumpeter it is not important who invented the product or service. The inventor is the one that brings the product or service to the market. In the actual situation it makes no difference, as the twins are both inventing and marketing the new products.
  • Evaluation no. 5: The twins have financed the shop with the gift from Harry Potter (4-37-794 f.). That is very close to Schumpeter's condition that the money should be borrowed, especially in a context where the author have not described the possibility or terms for a business credit.

Which types of innovation? In section 2.b is shown a list of five possible kinds of innovation:

Schumpeter's five types of innovation from section 2.b:

Evaluation of the twins' business

Criteria met?

1

The introduction of a new good

See the impressing list in section 5.f

Yes

2

The introduction of a new method of production

No, as production methods are not mentioned (section 3.a)

No

3

The opening of a new market

For example that the Ministry of Magic wants protecting tools for the employees (6-6-115)

Yes

4

The conquest of a new source of supply of raw materials

No, as production methods are not mentioned (section 3.a)

No

5

The carrying out of the new

For example the new channel for distribution: Owl order service (6-15-287)

Yes

Summary: Schumpeter's six criteria for innovation are met in an exemplary way and to a higher degree than it would ever be possible in real life. There are three kinds of innovation involved: New goods, opening of a new market, and the carrying out of a new organization and I believe that J.K. Rowling has created this regularity without knowing Schumpeter's criteria but out of sheer wish to tell an interesting story.

'Anyway, where's the fun without a bit of risk?' Fred Weasley, 4-12-210


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