It’s Time for Startup Founders and Investors to Think Bigger
By Mark Manney
Outside of the venture capital community, today’s best and most radical ideas are getting shrugged off. Intellectual breakthroughs and creative pursuits, no matter how brilliant, are drowning in a sea of information overload and big data. Yet there is this one exception; the startup. This is why, as a creative intellectual and an artist, I am foremost a startup founder.
Not long-ago, rock bands were still being funded by labels because new music still excited us. Now new technology excites us and it is the startup that gets funded. The best startup has the power to change the world. If this potential to change the world is precisely what brings the big financial returns, then let’s think even bigger!
Web 2.0 happened 10 years ago and it’s time for another significant shift. I can point to an example of what’s coming next because I’m building it. The next phase of our online evolution goes beyond social media. Now begins the era of the alternate economy. It is entirely possible to create a virtual economy, featuring a virtual currency and even an element of direct-democracy, on a global scale and with minimal funding.
Consider the failures of today’s economic system. Most of us remain stuck in an outdated employment model. A job is one way to earn a living, but jobs come at a great cost to your personal freedom, time, and energy. There’s nothing inevitable about earning a living through a series of monogamous commitments to one company at a time. Jobs limit your potential for personal growth and only tap into a fraction of your capabilities. We can do better!
The social networking potential of the online world offers you that chance to create something better. Why not create a system that allows you to form mutually-beneficial relationships with new people? With a systematic way to meet and work with others based on mutual wants and needs, you can grow, gain experience, and ultimately earn more income just as you live in freedom. This concept can be the core of an alternate economy and we can call it the People Economy. While today’s Corporate Economy is structured around the relationships people have with companies, the People Economy emphasizes dynamic economic relationships between people with compatible wants and needs.
In this new People Economy I am proposing, users will be connected to all the right people. We can also plug-in a virtual currency to facilitate economic transactions in this virtual economy. Would a currency that is directly tied to the needs, wants, talents and skills of every participant in the economy not have the potential to strengthen against real-world currencies? A currency backing a better economy is simply a better currency!
Alternate Economies are about creating integrated, holistic systems to improve the way we live and work. As we listen to so many people complaining about or protesting governments and corporations; do we not recognize a market demand? Do we not see this deep dissatisfaction as a market opportunity to offer them what they want? What these frustrated people of the world (our customer base) are really asking for is nothing other than a better life! Our competition (corporate and government institutions) are too self-serving to accommodate their needs. We, on the other hand, can!
Today’s entrepreneurs have yet to understand that we are the ones responsible for creating a better world. No other group is willing or able. Each day we continue to tinker with million dollar ideas, we miss the trillion dollar idea that will improve the lives of billions.
Investors, too, have failed to comprehend the scale of this opportunity. The startup community has become rigid, overly-confident, and too dependent upon conventional wisdom. This has led to a failure to see the forest for the trees. Let’s go somewhere new. Let us create a new forest!
The entrepreneur and the investor may soon come to understand that we (and we alone) have the power to transform the world. No amount of success or influence is greater than in founding and enabling an entire economy. To build an alternate economy is to seize the opportunity of a generation.
Mark Manney is the founder of Infobeing.com, a start-up that is creating the People Economy to set you free from your job. 10 years ago, he escaped corporate office life in Seattle to travel the world, start a virtual sales agency, and make music with the band Abscondo. He is also a husband and a proud father to a 5-year-old daughter.