Two decades of entrepreneurship that made us human forever
The last two decades have seen a complete transformation in how we work, live, and play. These two decades have set a standard for centuries to come. This article highlights some key changes we have experienced over this time from a founder’s perspective.
I remember my very first venture 20 odd years ago during the days of the dot-com boom. We were a team of professionals working on a Human-Computer Interaction project using AI. Today this has evolved into the UX industry. We all had day jobs and were working on this project in the evenings and weekends.
These were the days when Google as we know today was just taking off. The internet was a new frontier just like in Star Trek. To a lot of people, it might as well have been a mission to Mars! Domain name hoarding was big business. Most global brands were classed as bricks and we were building the clicks to compete against them.
In those days, no one quite understood what VCs were looking for – not much change there! Not many VCs actually existed. A business plan structure was something unique to each investor. Business Incubation was a myth. We used to attend First Tuesday networking events to meet but more importantly learn from others in the same space.
This was an age when business as a discipline was still in its infancy. Some of us studied it, but most didn’t. So, simple things like bookkeeping, cash flows, and calculating cash churns were a big deal.
Fast forward to the 2020s. The internet has entered the mainstream. Google is the standard for search engines. Facebook has more accounts than people on the planet. Twitter has changed grammar forever!
More importantly, the methods and processes these new companies use are also accepted as the new norm. They are also available to the rest of us and not held as a state secret. Business structure has changed. For example, Netflix doesn’t have a CFO(??) Now user design (UX) is at the core of this new age. Tech adoption is seen as more important than tech generation. In other words, making tech serve us, the people is the new norm.
This new norm is here to stay. The debate is no longer whether Bricks or clicks. Many Bricks have disappeared. Other bricks have joined the clicks. The new economy has finally entered the mainstream. The old industry is adopting this new norm and has accepted it will fall off the wayside if it doesn’t. The new economy values of inclusion & diversity are an essential part of the new business model.
From hiring of staff to pricing strategies ensure the onus is on the business to make money while meeting its obligations to society. The B Corporation and the Social Enterprise movement have made industry social responsibility players – social welfare is part of their mission now as much as the bottom line.
Peer-to-peer engagement is changing how we relate to each other. No longer do national boundaries stop human engagement. No longer does the language barrier stop cross-cultural exchanges – Google Translate helps with that. So, this flow of knowledge and human engagement has generated an opportunity never seen before.
For the first time in human history, progress is being made to socially and financially include all 7 billion of us into the mainstream. More people are able to access a decent education – provided they can access the internet and the English language (more languages are coming as well).
Platforms like www.edx.org offer a Harvard University level education for nearly free for all who are able to enter the site. Of course, we also need to be conscious of the limitations of online learning in terms of internet access and how we can continue to increase that access on a global level.
All in all we have entered an age where education and social welfare are at the heart of our everyday lives. We all feel the responsibility of supporting each other in our hour of need. More importantly, we have accepted that our new approach to existence is a global one where no part of the planet will be left behind.
About the Author
Zufi Deo is the co-founder of BizGees, a startup from the Bridge Community. BizGees is the winner of the Infosys Challenge for financial inclusion at the UNICEF FinTech Jam for Good 2016 and challenge winners at the Eu v Virus Hackathon 2020. They are an alternative finance startup which supports communities across 4 different continents using the latest developments in technology and business innovation. BizGees embraces human-centered design to meet the holistic needs of its stakeholders. It is currently scaling its impact by supporting local artists and talent in Europe and the US – profits transform refugees into entrepreneurs.