Working in tech and entrepreneurship, we are taught and encouraged to challenge the status quo. In tech companies, this is said a lot, but it does not always happen depending on the company culture, the team, and the manager. However, being an entrepreneur is all about challenging the status quo.
I have an end game in mind here. I want to have my own company (possibly several) that I start, grow, and eventually hand off to someone who wants to run a giant corporation. As I have reflected on my goals and interests, I realize that I do not want to be the Vice President at a massive technology company. I also (likely) don't want to be the CEO or CTO of a billion dollar venture. The reason is that once a company reaches a certain size, it maintains impact in its field, but it rarely creates a new wave, a serious change.
Take Google, Facebook and Apple as examples.
Google's biggest impact to the world was creating PageRank Search. The internet existed, but it was hard to use. This idea that you just know a URL and type it in for everything you might need is ludicrous (in retrospect). The internet was great, but metaphorically, it was a TV set, and Google became its remote controller. With just a TV, you have to sit there and guess where functions and cable channels are. With a remote control, you can access all functions of the TV, and be connected to all of the cable channels it has to offer. That being said, Google technically was not the first search engine, but it was the best. Since then, other Google products have been massively successful, but nothing was quite the game changer and innovation as PageRank Search. Everything else Google has done has built off of its search platform.
Facebook changed how we interact with people close and far away. Granted, it also was not a first mover, but it was the best. Facebook has continued to innovate, but it is all connected to its initial idea, a social network.
Apple changed the world with the personal computer. It continued to improve it, then dropped off. Apple is the rare breed that shocked the world again with the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. You can argue that these all still built off of the personal computer, but since they were significant deviations from the personal computer, you can call Apple a large company that continued to change the game with serious innovations.
In all of this though, the beauty of a startup is it has a fresh idea and team, is it is uniquely new. It comes into the field to shake things up. It's not looking to appease shareholders, it's not looking to iterate on the next version of its software or device, it's looking to make a difference, to do something phenomenal and new.
But here is my issue with Silicon Valley's startups these days: Everyone is solving the same problems, just variations of it. Sometimes it's a new technology, other times it's an app that saves you time or connects you to the world in a different way than the other 6 social media apps that anyone has heard of. Everyone is looking to use "Big Data", "Social", "Local", "Synergy" to solve yet another techie first world problem.
Silicon Valley needs to stop priding itself on how innovative it is with its next first world problem solutions. I personally want to have my own startup that solves some basic first world problem, but ultimately, I want to use the reputation, power, and wealth that I would gain from solving one of these first world problems, and channel these resources into solving real-world problems. Problems that affect the people who are not able to use Silicon Valley's apps.
I truly admire Bill and Melinda Gates for starting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. What they have done to help the different populations of the world is truly incredible. I think this needs to be taken to a new variation and degree.
The brilliant entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley need to make their app, win a fortune, but then re-channel their efforts to our fellow humans who lack basic needs. There are small businesses and programs that hire convicted felons to bake goods such as brownies. This model of building a sustainable business to create jobs for those who have no other means of finding work is what this world needs.
I don't know exactly how this can be done yet, but I know we can solve this problem. I don't know if it should be for our homeless, for those who live near the poverty line, or for former criminals. Ideally, there should be a solution for each demographic. I would like to pilot an idea like this in the United States, because I believe in taking care of your home first. People say the United States is the greatest, but a team is only as strong as its weakest player, and the United States has left a lot of weak players lying around.
We cannot wait and rely on the government. I'm not taking a Libertarian stance on government; it is needed and it does great things. But innovation does not happen within the government, our brightest and most driven individuals are not going after government jobs as much as they used to. An idea like this needs to be funded and executed by the private industry. The government can support it, but it needs to remain independent.
Our brightest citizens who have already made a fortune need to stop simply donating money, and need not enter into early retirement. These people need to put their thinking cap on again, and look at how we can build a sustainable business to give people jobs who otherwise have no means to get a job.
Handing out money and goods is not a bad thing. I am not a Conservative that is hating on charity hand-outs. There are instances where it is crucial. What I am saying is, giving a hand-out does not help an individual in need long-term. Many Conservatives say that if someone has the drive and will to make it, then they will -- This is not accurate if there are no opportunities present to an individual. Creating a sustainable business geared to hire people in poor situations not only ensures a constant flow of money to the workers, but it gives them a sense of purpose. It teaches the individual how to grow, learn, and earn. It builds confidence and self-worth.
This idea sounds crazy, it sounds far-fetched and too idealistic, but so did a personal computer in every household, so did a search engine, and so did social profiles.
I think entrepreneurship is amazing and critical to this country and our planet. A lot of the best ideas and innovations come from entrepreneurs. But now it's time for these people who are so great at building businesses, to stop building the business that makes an app, and start building the business that we all need, the one that bridges the wealth gap and does good.
This is essentially a privatized, capitalist New Deal Act... the "New New Deal".
I personally am very passionate about this idea. I have first world company ideas that I want to launch, because I am excited about them, but more so as a gateway to pioneer this idea and movement myself. It is long overdue, and it can be solved. It's just a matter of how.
I envision a better future.