Someone solve Pakistan
Before you jump on me, let me clarify this is no political commentary. Its more about the little bubble we all live in. For years, Sandhill VCs and Silicon Valley types rarely ventured beyond problems that mattered to them. I remember countless product reviews where I would blow up on what I called “Mission district problems” named after the grungy, young, super hip Mission district in San Francisco. Month after month, I would see super smart folks come in and present variants of solutions to problems that were focused on a narrow segment of the society. Nothing wrong with it. After all, we do identify most with issues that afflict us directly. Also those are the early adopters who can provide the most early traction.
But I believe there is a lot of opportunity in solving problems outside of the Valley (On a side note, there is a lot of opportunity in solving problems for the super rich in the Valley, read my friend Anshu’s post on that). And its not even the exotic locations I am going to talk about in this post, there are 10 startups that can be build just on the problems that middle America faces or just about any place in the US outside of New York and SF.
For years, we have cribbed about countries like India not getting attention. And now by the sheer size of the opportunity, and the grit of some early entrepreneurs, India has captured the imagination of investors, startup folks, technologists across the world. But there is more to the rest of the world than just India, and that brings me to Pakistan.
Imagine a market of 180 million people pretty similar to their fellow south asians down south, similar talent, similar education (more or less), same appetite for services and same needs. And no really significant players solving their problems (or if there are some, I don’t know of their existence). And its not just about Pakistan. Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, other parts of the world, the list goes on. In the world of increasingly local winners, there are some significant companies to be built around solving the problems of the next wave of emerging economies. So much value to be created, but outside the bubble we all live in.
Not to mention that most of the problems of this world would go away if we could put the youth across all the hotspots to work. Give them a phone, show them what the Internet can do for them, and voila… world peace!