As someone that’s been in the start-up space for a while, I understand the allure of technology start-ups and why there seems to be so much hype around building a “unicorn” (That reminds me… Can we leave the term “unicorn” in 2015?) and becoming the next Steve Jobs or Marky Mark.
It’s sexy. The thought of tech start-ups is sexy. The thought of bootstrapping and building the next Twitter sounds alluring. However, the problem with sexy is its based on rather superficial criteria, always empty at its core, and is somewhat fleeting. If there is one thing that’s true above all, it is that sexy is in a constant state of change.
Things deemed to be sexy sneak in to conversations as silver bullets to solve major problems. (Getting more people to build apps will solve economic inequality, for example) This is far from the case. Sexy attempts to simplify rather complex issues so it’s digestible and palatable.
This is especially enlightening to me as I travel to places like Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and Kenya. There’s so much hype around sexy start-ups. I understand the low barrier to entry. It takes less money and less specialized skill to begin a sexy start-up. I see the why. But I also see the bigger opportunity.
The bigger opportunity, to me, is in disrupting already established industries with new business models enabled by new technology and innovative thinking. For example, Hello Tractor , one of my favorite start-ups of all time, leverages technology and an on demand based business model to provide tractors to small and medium sized farmers in Nigeria. Agriculture isn’t as sexy as a web based company or a cool app, but I would argue industries like agriculture are the foundation for any thriving market.
I’m looking for more companies, especially from developing markets, that attack these already existing industries. Particularly, waste management, transportation, agriculture, and real estate.