The other day I gave a presentation to Singularity University’s group of alumni on the disruptive forces which are changing the landscape of entrepreneurship.
In my work as the track chair for entrepreneurship, we identified three main drivers which are significantly shifting the way companies are built and operate.
Today you can seamlessly reach a good chunk of the world’s population. 1.5 billion people on Facebook, hundreds of millions on WeChat, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp… Nearly everyone (who is online) on Google and Co.
And it’s not only about the reach – you can find your suppliers on Alibaba, outsource your distribution infrastructure and hire specialists on UpWork.
You rent your servers on Amazon’s Web Service for a penny an hour; you build your application on top of millions of lines of Open Source code and you reach a global audience for a handful of dollars spent on Google or Facebook.
Your tools of production are free or cheap, pay-as-you-go solutions. A $xx monthly fee at TechShop gives you access to laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC machines and all the power tools you can dream of.
Lean startup and rapid prototyping redefined the way we build products and companies.
What was a year-long, error-prone process of build, release and pray is now a day-long iterative exercise in rapid customer validation.
We are turning conjectures into actuals at an ever-increasing pace with less and less resources.
Combined, these three factors – Scale, Cost and Speed – are disrupting entrepreneurship from the ground up.
Which leads to creating breakthrough – or disrupting – products.
There is little more exciting than being part of a team which brings something truly paradigm-shifting to market. Something which is not just marginally better than the next product in its category but leaves a lasting legacy.
eBay completely flattened the marketplace and allowed everyone to sell online. Firefox pushed the web forward at a time when all the big players have given up on it. And Singularity University might very well be redefining how we are thinking about the future of technology.
Over the years I thought a lot about what needs to be true for breakthroughs to happen. Yesterday I read the following quote in “Becoming Steve Jobs” and it hits the nail on the head:
“Most breakthrough products result from a long cycle of hit-and-miss prototypes, the steady accumulation of features, and a timely synthesis of existing technologies.”
Breakthrough products – and really anything meaningful – are the result of hard work, lots and lots of experimentation and excellent timing.
Which is the reason why it’s so incredibly hard to build something meaningful and big – regardless how easy it looks like from the outside.
And it’s so well worth it…