Have we done nothing? I don’t know. I guess many people started or kept fighting hard against the powerful NRA trying to put guns under control in the US. But Seth Levine is right, we probably didn’t do enough. And guns are not the only big problem we still have to tackle as a global society. Climate change, corruption, fake news, child pornography, hunger, you name it!
How is it possible that the entrepreneurship fever we live in combined with the rapid tech developments is not producing more “fundamental ventures”? How can we spend so much energy on “levitating bonsaï” kind of stuff when we should focus on serious problems?
Lack of long-term projects
We live in a world of immediacy. Information flows at light speed. What is high-tech today will for sure be outdated next year. It is possible to observe customers “live” with powerful tracking tools and VCs are tracking your venture the same way… And all this makes entrepreneurs live more and more in the short term. Yes, we have unicorns like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos but they are that, unicorns!
Please, note that this long-term phobia doesn’t belong exclusively to entrepreneurs: our whole society is sick and maybe politics are the most affected. The gun disaster and the lack of reaction to ecological challenges are the best proofs. By the way, we could say that they only focus on winning elections but we should also recognize that we keep voting for long-term phobic candidates. And not only in the US…
Lack of deep collaborative economy
It sounds curious to me that we fill the concept of a collaborative economy with Uber and Airbnb style’s projects. Do you really think the deepest human collaboration should be limited to hipsters’ versions of taxis and hotels? Of course, in both spaces, there are much more collaborative projects like Blablacar or Couchsurfing, and of course Uber and Airbnb are both legitimate and well executed and in many ways they deserve admiration. However, don’t you think we should aspire to a deeper kind of collaboration?
I’m talking about a kind of creative commons or open source collaboration. Does it make sense that we keep competing in many fields that would require full collaboration? I have just come back from India where a representative of Toolbox told me that there are 3.300.000 NGOs in India. Isn’t that the ultimate proof that we desperately need more collaboration instead of looking for personal victories and awards with our own name on it?
Long story made short, we lack both humility and ambition. The time has come to train a new generation of entrepreneurs capable of dreaming super big, starting super small and able to think in terms of smart collaboration. How could we design a true ecosystem where entrepreneurs naturally focus on building the tiny piece of a beautiful giant puzzle instead of building the full kit of a small and boring one?
And now, what?
If you as a reader of this article don’t know me personally, you may think that I’m such a pessimistic guy. In fact, I’m just the opposite to that. I’m optimistic. After all, like Churchill said, “it does not seem too much use being anything else”, no?
I see light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s getting bigger and bigger! I know amazing people who work on great projects and aim to generate high impact ventures:
Ashoka helps social entrepreneurship development worldwide working for instance on identification and spreading of best practices.
Matter accelerates from San Francisco and NY the most promising ventures in the strategic field of media. They support media entrepreneurs building a more informed, connected, and empowered society.
Praxis ensures that Christian entrepreneurs keep a coherence between their faith and their venture. They focus on young entrepreneurs and students with a remarkable set of resources enabling what they call “redemptive entrepreneurship”.
Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.
Omidyar Network invests in entrepreneurs and their visionary ideas that create opportunities for people to improve their lives, their communities, and the world around them.
Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program for young people who want to build new things. They bet on those who starts amazing thing because they just don’t know it’s “impossible”. Look for instance at their bet on Boyan Slat who, at 18, decided to clean the oceans from plastics and finish with 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years.
Have a look at these institutions, discover the outstanding ventures they encourage and find a way to help or promote some of them. Let’s put our money and our attention where our mouth is. If we want to build a better world, let’s make sure we don’t start building or funding an app that optimizes cats’ selfies or a floating bonsai pot. We need, all together, to grow more and stronger “social entrepreneurs”: entrepreneurs working on fundamental ventures.
If we want to stop these mass shootings, we need to find new ways to teach empathy at school. We must find innovative solutions that will make politicians much more accountable for their vote. We should develop better tools to ensure transparency in campaign funding. And we need to discover creative ways to convince people that if a bunch of wise Founders designed a great Constitution, millions of responsible citizens must be able to amend it.
Entrepreneurs, as Gandhi said once: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.»