As a society, we are experiencing vast shifts that are being driven by the accelerating pace of technological development. Our world is being constantly reimagined by a new wave of entrepreneurs eager to disrupt the status quo. Today’s technology is being used to create tomorrow’s disruption, creating exponential change. It is sometimes difficult to predict this near-future which is just 5–10 years out.
What felt like science fiction a mere 5 years ago is a reality today. This change is driven by the rise of a digitally connected global youth, the internet as a digital distribution channel, the mobile phone as a personalized computer in one’s pocket combined with innovations across machine learning, artificial intelligence, design thinking, robotics, genetics and more.
To me, entrepreneurship is about building solutions to our individual or collective problems. Today, so many of these problems are systemic in nature. They require the best of entrepreneurs — but they offer the best of rewards: massive world-positive change. It is a great time to be an entrepreneur.
This post is our attempt to share some of the ways in which we believe our near-future can be positively reimagined if we address the systematic challenges of our times. The list is merely a start to an important public discourse. Please join us in the conversation.
A. Sustainable Systems
· The state of our world
o The global population is increasing and will reach 9 billion people by 2050.
o American consumerism built around feeding the human desire for “wants” has been exported globally.
o Climate change and unpredictable weather is no longer up for scientific debate.
o Our industrial engine has been built around a model of depleting, polluting and wasting of resources.
· Abundance versus scarcity?
A post-industrial era is emerging. New sustainable models are enabling us to meet the needs and wants of the growing population utilizing resource abundance rather than scarcity.
o New Consumption models
It is exciting to see the growth of new consumption models which optimize resources. On-demand transportation (and soon autonomous vehicles) will reduce the need for inefficient ownership models.
Marketplaces are taking the friction out of using, sharing, disposing of and monetizing various products and services. Distributed energy and storage as well as electrification of vehicles are accelerating the transition to a renewables-driven energy future. Buildings are becoming smarter, more efficient & wellness-oriented.
o Innovations in Agriculture
As a society, consumer expectations of food have risen. A focus on locally produced, toxin-free food with on-demand delivery has emerged. This change is going to disrupt various packaged goods and food services industries.
Improved productivity of agricultural land is happening through innovations in the soil biome combined with technology tools and big data. New types of indoor farming are being developed, naturally resistant crops being created, and acquaculture is hitting an inflection point. These changes are going to result in greater yield, less water and chemical use and healthier soil.
o Rethinking the supply chain
Local and on demand manufacturing is starting to take root in a few categories, leveraging development in robotics and 3d printing. There is no need to wait to have supply filled from the other side of the planet.
New materials are being developed from sustainable & healthy inputs that become cost and performance competitive alternatives for proteins, precious stones, building materials and the like.
B. Healthy Living
· Facts of our health
o Global health statistics show rising levels of obesity and chronic illness.
o The Cost of healthcare has been increasing despite low quality ratings.
o National attitudes are reactive, focusing on surgery or medicine based solutions versus understanding root causes and enabling prevention.
o Family dynamics have changed, seeing an increase in single family households. We have a mental health issue with mass anxiety driven by lifestyle changes.
· Longer, healthier and happier lives?
We will see dramatic changes in the business of health in the post-industrial era. A great challenge of our times is to support longer, healthier and happier lives. Answering this challenge will help to unlock the next level of productivity, creativity and problem solving.
o Creating the wellness wave
New models are being built to disrupt healthcare and make it more human centered. We live in a world of distractions and information overload. Increasing scientific evidence is suggesting the importance of brain health, fitness and mindfulness, in addition to physical fitness.
Hardware and software solutions are making health and wellness more engaging. Networked fitness is re-imaging health clubs. We can now engage with experts, customize fitness routines, network with likeminded individuals, and get input and reminders from wearables.
Weight management and many other chronic disease solutions are being transformed. The new paradigm is a set of complete transparent solutions that make it easy to follow, monitor, and be motivated to improve ones health.
Our food pyramid and related product development are also evolving due to the latest science, not dogma from the past.
o Reimagining our relationship with providers
Health care services have been very opaque in terms of quality and cost of service. We are presently seeing a push towards transparency. One should quickly be able to ascertain which doctors and/or institution should be contacted for assistance with a particular health issue.
On-demand health care services, either online or offline, will help make health services more patient-centric. No more waiting for an appointment with a doctor. No more paper trails to review and decipher what one owes. Big data, software and sensors will aid in diagnosis and treatment.
o Optimizing healthcare
Machine intelligence and data analytics are helping streamline internal processes. This is being driven by the mainstreaming of transparency tools.
Big data, informed by a fast-growing understanding of the genome and the human microbiome, are improving the efficacy of medical treatments and will personalize healthcare.
C. People Power
· The state of our communities
o Time = luxury. We live in a world where we are all busy, working or mentally occupied.
o We have seen an increasing income gap and erosion of middle class in the developed world while the middle class grows in the developing world.
o The US education-system, that once helped put a man on the moon, is now falling behind.
o The work contract is being rewritten. There are increasingly transient relationships between employers and the employees.
o We are experiencing demographic shifts. The rise of the millennial generation and increased diversity are substantially changing demographics.
o Ubiquitous digitization, reliance on technology and public data sharing are on the rise.
· Improving lives and communities?
The connected world is going to be the bedrock for new innovations in the post-industrial era. New models are being designed to empower the individual so that they can improve their lives as well as their communities.
o Powering Work
Work is critical part of one’s life and self-identity. Small and mid sized businesses are known as the job creation engine for an economy. Cloud and software-as-a-service platforms are leveling the playing field for small companies to grow rapidly and create more jobs.
On demand work and job related marketplaces are driving the rise of a freelance economy. Individuals can make this a career, a stepping-stone to building a business, or simply access to cash between traditional jobs.
New tools are being developed to improve collaboration and build a robust culture. Especially at larger companies, new tools are being used as a way to empower and engage employees. Today’s business applications are being reimagined and tailored around human centered design.
o Creating Community
We are seeing the rise of global digital communities built around psychographic segmentation. Humans have a natural desire to meet and connect with other likeminded individuals. These communities are becoming key drivers for commerce and will disrupt the traditional shopping model.
Communities will help improve government transparency, performance and communication. This social engagement is moving us toward a more democratic engagement with real-time feedback for various initiatives.
A connected world creates hyper-transparency in various parts of our lives. We are seeing digital disintermediation of banks and finance-based organizations. This is leading to transparency and democratization resulting in a reduction of various hidden fees and access to financial instruments previously only available to few.
The world is moving toward on-demand access to learning versus an education that is completed upfront with huge time and cost. Online and offline platforms are enabling individuals to delve deep on a subject matter, showcase work, get connected to experts, or find project-based work.
New online led brands that link consumers directly to manufacturers are displacing traditional retail based players. Consumers are winning because of reduced pricing, imporved supply chain responsiveness and more personalized offerings.
We are in an exciting post-industrial phase of new innovation and problem solving. Immeasurable opportunity exists to solve these big problems. We can make our world more sustainable and healthy through the empowerment of individuals and communities.
We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we know where to find them: in the brave entrepreneurs who crave world-positive innovation. We welcome suggestions and bold ideas which will be additive to this discourse. Most importantly, we look forward to meeting founders who dream of changing the world in a #worldpositive way.