Jul 5 Anna Pakkala
Startups come from a need. A need for which no solution yet exists. Or perhaps one does, but it’s not sufficiently accessible to those who require it. Or it doesn’t address the need in the most optimal way. Or it is too costly or too difficult. You get the gist. A truly functional solution for the need is yet to be discovered and is just waiting to be found.
Enter: the founder (see what I did there?). Founders experiment, test, run against conventional market wisdom, and persevere even when other people call it plain madness. They trudge on, fine-tuning until the solution is well and truly, properly, found.
The biggest problems facing us today, whether it’s climate change, structural inequality, diminishing natural resources, or a number of other wicked societal problems, are the ultimate need-meets-solution gaps.
We have problems feeding the world’s population. We can’t supply clean drinking water for those in need. Oceans will have more plastic bags than fish by 2050. We continue to rely on fossil fuels for energy knowing full-well the consequences of our actions. Meanwhile, people are leaving the war-torn regions they used to call home behind in masses (for reasons often rooted in the first tangible effects of climate change), looking for shelter and safety we can barely provide for them.
These are just some of the problems we know we have. What we need now are people capable of banging their heads against the wall enough times to come up with a feasible solution.
What the world needs are founders. Founders with can-do-attitude, who are willing to be called a little mad for attempting to solve these problems through startups.
The startup scene is gaining more steam than ever because of the immensity of the problems we face. This is because startups experiment where large corporate machines or governments start to think about moving forward. Startups try, test, fail and succeed at the pace that is required in order to solve the biggest socio-environmental issues of our time.
We need big corporations with the resources and reach to help these startups gain traction, a cooperation that brings out the best in both. We need increasingly interdisciplinary collaboration between major players in the field. We need partners in government, academia, and in the non-profit and grassroots levels to help us with testbeds, laws, research, insights, questions, critique and resources not found in the business world alone. But at the heart of it, what we need are founders – innovators and disruptors – who dare to face the world’s toughest problems, the most fundamental needs, and keep going until they have the solution, all at a neckbraking, agile pace that larger organizations can only dream about.
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