Last year I went to Start Up Weekend Hawkes Bay. An exhilarating weekend of teams made up out of hopefuls trying to put together a proposal for a company at the end of the weekend that would be picked as the winner and receive fame and glory. Bringing the bright lights of Silicon Valley home to the Hawkes Bay.
What hit me at the time though was the fact that only a few people who were pitching business ideas seemed to really be behind the idea itself rather than the idea of running a potential good earning business. And over the last year or so that became only clearer to me.
The buzz words in the halls while the teams were beavering away were: “exit strategy”, “failing fast’, “angel investors” and other of those Silicon Valley terms. All good and well, but I cannot shake the thought that the Silicon Valley model of fast failing start ups is taken out of context and is becoming an empty shell. A blunt tool only to gather richness and recognition.
Should a business not start with a passionate drive to make the world just a little better? I fall in that trap all the time as I have a family to feed and bills to pay like most of us. Short term issues that need to be resolved but a blurred long-term vision.
Let’s look at for instance at Goog.. uhm… Alphabet..
In the original founders letter 11 years ago Sergey and Larry wrote, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” As part of that, they also said that we could expect them to make “smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses.” From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.
One of the goals they present when they announced the Alphabet company: “And hopefully… as a result of all this, improving the lives of as many people as we can.”
That is a clear indicator that these guys were running this company from the start not just to make a living but to do something important.
And take as other examples companies like SpaceX and Tesla led by Elon Musk .
If you look at the SpaceX website, the one main thing you see, right on the home page, is the reference to the human race becoming a multi-planetary species. Not SpaceX being “just a rocket company”. No, actually having a long term goal to put humans on other planets.
Same with Tesla. The company recently made all of their patents open source. In general that would be regarded as commercial suicide, but Mr Musk has got a bigger goal in mind. And that is the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
If more companies were setup, not to make a buck, but actually make a difference, would that not progress our world greatly? If there were less Donald Trumps and more Elon Musks and Sergey’s and Larry’s, would that not make our world better?
For more inspiration please do visit http://bteam.org/. A movement led by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson that want to put people and planet before profit.