Nothing thrills us
No one kills us
Life is such a chore
-“Boring” by the Pierces
It’s good to see entrepreneurs stepping up and taking their place in the world. All over the globe startups are pitching to VCs, being touched by angels, taking out loans and bootstrapping with confidence to fulfill their dreams. This fervor is extremely promising. Startups are like fresh air breezing through a stuffy, stale room. But sometimes it seems that the breezes keep blowing air in the same room. I wonder if the idea of creating more bells and whistles for oversaturated consumers will become, you know, boring over time. We have more social networking apps, more online clothing retailers and more electronic doohickeys than we know what to do with. While most sane people love a great electronic doohickey (present company included), getting them excited about purchasing the next greatest thing seems to be harder and harder. There are brilliant entrepreneurs that are already burning up the charts in this space. And of course, every now and again someone comes along and truly changes the game, disrupting everything. But how often does that really happen? Mostly disruption is dulled down to incremental advancements. The potential to make a lot of money is certainly there. But is there an equal amount of satisfaction in the journey?
So what’s left to conquer? I’m glad you asked. There are so many interesting problems yet to be solved or at least solved more efficiently; big problems that fall into categories like clean water, clean energy, food production, collaborative education, food deserts, poverty reduction, ad infinitum. Yes these really are big, humongous problems and the solutions aren’t necessarily glamorous. But tackling these problems certainly seems interesting. Getting a handle on these issues requires big thinking and big problem solving and loads of time and a plethora of approaches.
So hopefully a substantial percentage of the next wave of entrepreneurs will dare to think big and solve huge, crippling problems. They won’t do this for free and we shouldn’t expect them to. But they will lead with their hearts and be tempered by their pragmatism and excellent business instincts. You’ve heard them called social entrepreneurs, mission-driven entrepreneurs or just plain old business do-gooders that are trying to conquer mountain-size problems. But climbing a mountain seems anything but boring; treacherous and harrowing maybe, but never boring. These people will take their creativity and innovation and craft smart new solutions. Hopefully they’ll make some big dollars along the way. Perhaps they won’t make as many dollars as their strictly for-profit counterparts, but for this new breed of business superstars that’ll be just fine because climbing a mountain can also be thrilling and rewarding.
So where is the next hotbed of interesting? Just look for the mountain-sized problem up ahead.