It’s an incredible time to be alive.We’ve heard of dozens and dozens of stories about young college dropouts starting companies in their garages and turning them into billion dollar companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google and on and on. And we’ve all been told that we too, are only one good idea away from being at the helm of our own billion-dollar venture.
It’s true- today is a day of unprecedented opportunity. The costs of starting a company are lower than ever before. In the past, starting a company was usually restricted to hardware or manufacturing industries where significant capital was required in the beginning. Today, starting up a company can be as simple as a single website or landing page on the Internet.
But perhaps before diving forward, we should take a step back and think for a second.
…Why do we actually want to startup?
As mentioned in a previous blog post about 90% of all startups fail before even getting off the ground. Of those that do manage to get off the ground, 70% fold within the first 18 months. Perhaps even more cruel are the startups which never fully fail, but never succeed either; they remain alive, but don’t grow or expand in any significant way. This means that if we’re going to start a company with the objective of becoming rich and famous- it’s probably not going to end well.
In addition to fighting these extremely unlikely odds, there are other dissuading reasons from starting a company. For people with the technical skills to start interesting and exciting ventures, it’s relatively easy to get a “good job” and make a large salary. Additionally, large companies can also offer interesting and challenging problems that often only occur at scale. For example, as of May 2019, more than 500 hours of video content were uploaded to YouTube every single minute. If the average human life expectancy is ~70 years, then there is more content being uploaded to YouTube in a single day than a human being could possibly watch in their entire lifetime. How do you decide which videos should be censored and/or removed? This is an example of a problem that you could only solve in a handful of places in the world, and nowhere more meaningfully than YouTube.
We’ve always tried to build solutions to problems; to build things that solve legitimate problems and that make other people’s lives notably better. The result of adopting this kind of philosophy is that the projects we work on usually wind up being things we’re all deeply proud to be a part of, and that inspire us to continue. For example, one of our current projects, Podd, is trying to solve the problem of making campuses more secure by allowing students to (anonymously) report incidents that occurred in real time. The feedback we’ve gotten from our users has been amazing, and we’re truly excited to continue working on it.
This sentiment towards building things that matter and actually add value or solve meaningful problems are echoed by a lot of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs. After leaving PayPal, Elon Musk is very famously said to have asked himself, “What are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?” And his musings would eventually drive him to start the companies he’s most famous for working on today-
Anyone starting a company with the intention of getting rich would have never in a million years considered starting an aerospace company like SpaceX, or an electric vehicle company like Tesla. Today, it just so happens that both companies are not only immensely profitable (Tesla currently surpassing Ford and General Motors in terms of value, and SpaceX securing billion-dollar contracts from NASA), but more importantly- solve some of the most important problems we face today.
In the end, this is what we believe at Speer- that the future is in the hands not of those who seek to become rich, but who solve meaningful problems and try to reframe the future, making tomorrow’s dreams a reality.
If you’re interested in learning more about working at (or founding) a startup, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post, called “Behind the Scenes!”
And if you’re interested in working with us, or have an idea you want to see brought to reality, feel free to email us at email@example.com