As we approached the year 2021, I wrote about the huge issue on everyone’s mind: how would a cataclysmic event like a pandemic manifest itself in post-pandemic innovation? Well, here is the deal: there is a spoiler. We are approaching the conclusion of yet another pandemic year, and it appears as if we will be living in this situation for much longer than I would want to forecast.
In other words, my query has outlived its usefulness, and I would want to ask for a new one today. Beyond finance, my issue for 2022: How can the tech community smuggle activation energy into businesses, particularly those founded by historically underrepresented founders? I am not referring to exaggerate machines or weekly luncheons on certain themes; rather, I am referring to offerings that are more ephemeral.
In this cash-rich climate, I believe entrepreneurs will require more human resources than ever before in order to grow their businesses. Do not get me wrong: the gender gap in fundraising is still a glaring, humiliating problem that venture capitalists must address.
However, while we emphasize the need of getting more checks to more founders, we must equally consider how to maintain those same founders in a more competitive climate. After all, venture capital does not solve all problems – and, in fact, it might make a startup’s development more difficult. Every day, activation energy might take on a new form. For example, this week I reported about Z Fellows, a business accelerator that pays entrepreneurs $10,000 to take a week off from their day job and try out their startup concept.
The average age of a Z Fellow is 20 to 25, indicating that the program has been successful in persuading first-time entrepreneurs to take the plunge. The program’s pre-requisite, according to founder Cory Levy, is that you just have to take one week off from work. “The finest programs out there, whether it’s Y Combinator or the Thiel Fellowship,” Levy said, “demand this tremendous commitment, huge life decisions,” whether it is dropping out of school or pursuing an idea full-time. “Don’t do that; instead, simulate what life would be like for a few days or a week: if you enjoy it, terrific; if you don’t, no harm, no foul.”
While Levy emphasizes the value of time, I believe that entrepreneurs will increasingly rely on community and mental health assistance. Check out my TechCrunch+ column for a more in-depth look at this topic: Activation energy is more important to entrepreneurs than another check. Thank you so much for sticking with me during this crazy year.
We unpacked a lot together. We caught up in the numbers, thinking about a scorching due diligence summer and fundraising gaslighting. We went into detail about why crypto does not require NFTs, but NFTs require crypto and multiplayer fintech. Finally, we got real, discussing why democratization may sometimes cause more harm than good and how to include vulnerability into your process.
It was a long and difficult year, but one marked by a lot of learning (and unlearning) that will continue to change how ideas become businesses and realizations become insightful storytelling. That said, I am looking forward to taking a break, so you will not hear from Startups Weekly until January 1. Let us go into the rest of this newsletter one final time in 2021. We will discuss monetary variety, climate vs. crypto, and the trucking creative economy. As always, you can follow my ideas and emotions on Twitter @nmasc_ and Revue.