Recently, Jon Evans posted a rather thought-provoking story on the end of the startup era that began making its rounds in the startup community. That is something I feel very strongly about and could not let it simply glide past.
You see, it does feel like the end of an era indeed. Just start from the word “startup”, which used to stand for true entrepreneurship, for building companies that make billions (quickly), for changing whole industries. Today, the word stands for “rockstar mentality” entrepreneurs raising capital and most likely going bankrupt, while we all celebrate failure at startup events. Today it stands for selling your company to the highest bidder, not for building a business for life and changing the course of humanity.
According to Evans, this is inevitable due to the fact that technologies of the future require a lot of capital, data, know-how and that only the top companies in the world would be able to persevere. His view is that the future is behind big companies who learned how to be semi-agile and have the funds to support their innovation.
On the contrary, I see this development as a good thing and an amazing opportunity for “true entrepreneurs”. While everyone is busy building startups, looking for funding and having fun at events – if you are a true entrepreneur – you have all the time in the world to build an actual business. Investors will not notice you, ego-filled society will not pay attention to you until it’s too late and they will once again have to play catch-up.
This comes down to one simple trend in society that has little to do with technology and a lot more with how we are evolving on a human level. Yuval Harari in his Homo Deus – A Brief History Of Tomorrow best-seller puts it really well. One of the trends is that ideas, such as capitalism and others, are becoming less and less important – which leaves people searching for meaning in their lives. Because in a large corporation, you are just a cog in a system – you were at first attracted to startups in your search for meaning. This worked for a while, but startups become corporations and today you become a cog in a smaller system, so the search continues.
People are beginning to put a lot more value on their own life goals, their own meaning and they like to work in companies or rather, with people, that help them achieve their own dreams. That is where the future lies. Organizations that provide meaning, and not just the “mission statement” that simply gets someone excited for a few years until they realize that it actually adds little value to their lives.
For years we have been thinking what our “mission statement” at ArcticStartup should be and could not really come up with one, as we truly care about each and every single one in our tribe of a company. So far, the working title is: “our mission is to accomplish your mission.” At the same time, those are just words. Organizations that follow the collapse will not use words, they will show it through action, experience, feelings and so much more.
What I am talking about is the real kind of meaning, which is individual to every single person. No more “blanket” strategy, trying to force everyone behind a single mission. Every single human being has their own personal meaning and vision, and the organizations of the future will thrive on that. The destruction of the startup era can potentially be the culprit that started the whole thing.
If followed through, I believe, it can give rise to a new kind of organization that actually does not care about “profit” in a standard definition of the world and frankly – no capitalistically run company will see it coming. Companies that truly care and help people in their individual development will rule the world.
This new breed of organizations will care so deeply about its people and by extension – the society, that they will together figure out new ways that none of us can currently foresee on how to make the world a better place, first of all for their own individual tribes and then for the whole planet. They will act on a totally different level and create totally new technologies – we can not guess, which is why people like Jon Evans, see the trend but do not yet see how this could be the best thing that ever happened to us as a society.