It’s unfortunate but true, most new companies fail. If building a successful company were easy, it wouldn’t be so noteworthy.
Startups are hard.
Hardware startups are harder.
Regulated hardware startups are hardest.
It’s like what Elon Musk aptly described as “chewing glass and staring into the abyss“.
But if you look more philosophically at some of the biggest challenges the world faces today, one could argue that there is no more worthy of a task than to tackle them head on – knowing that what you are doing has a real, positive impact on the world. The technology exists today to create and even disrupt in any industry, more so than any other time in human existence. We’re amidst the greatest industrial / technological shift that humanity has ever known. Just look at some of the stuff coming out of Singularity University to get an idea, or read the book Bold by Peter Diamandis.
Want to become a billionaire? Help a billion people. Or a few million at least. Commit to helping solve real challenges.
For the sake of humanity, the economy and the world, why expend your time and talent building another game or photo filter app, when you can build something of consequence?
Why not find inspiration in areas that count, such as our energy transition and crisis, the time sensitive climate and environmental issues we face, health, water supply, sustainable food production or borderless education?
In the next handful of years we’re going to see billions of people come online. By 2030 it is said that 90% of the world will carry a supercomputer in their pocket and Internet connectivity will be a free, basic human right in many areas. New markets that never were factored in become real players. 1.3 billion people across the world lack access to electricity. Access to healthcare is even more depressing.
Money follows value creation. The greater the challenge and risk associated to value creation, the greater potential reward. But why did it have to be Richard Branson to make it common awareness that you can both do good AND profit?
It sometimes takes the same amount of effort to get something inconsequential off the ground as it is to launch something of tangible impact. The code that engineers use in the latest kitten ping pong game is the same code used in apps that help you catch a ride in Uber, find somewhere to stay in an AirBNB, evaluate your rooftop for solar, send payments, connect to Stanford’s Online education from across the world, or manage your personal health dashboard.
It’s the context and the end game that counts.
At Insight Diagnostics my team and I have learned some interesting things in the past year. We’ve learned that turning down capital from sources that are not aligned is the best thing you can do. We’ve learned that it is important to anchor yourself in the proof of your technological capabilities, have a capable team that is driven to a level that far exceeds themselves, and to lead with a vision that can inspire people. Paint your picture of the future, show what it means, and the right people will find and support you.
You must anticipate the naysayers and be willing to stand up in an arena full of pro’s that say you can’t do a thing – so that the few players in the audience that think you can, find you. Vision is critical. Team is vital. Results are not optional.
2017 should be exciting, and it will without a doubt be a remarkable year of progress and innovation for many sectors. While some will lean towards talking about the economy, government or an orange-skinned president-elect, others will be forging forward in creating the technologies that power our bright future.
But it’s not ideas that count – it’s making ideas happen.