Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I have witnessed my father’s entrepreneurship journey. He had a few brilliant ideas which evolved into three different startup companies.
One of the early lessons my siblings and I were taught about entrepreneurship is to always look for a need. Something that will improve people’s lives. Usually, it is something that doesn’t exist yet. Like an autonomous washing machine that does laundry whenever there’s a pile, and sorts through colors for you. That’s just one thing on top of my head.
Sometimes there is still a need although there are already products that address that problem. For example, Citymapper. It is a transportation app that helps you navigate easily through cities. It was founded six years after Google Maps was launched. The founder, Azmat Yusuf, is a former Google employee who realized the need for such a service still exists, despite Google Maps. And that’s exactly what Waze did for drivers. It became so popular that eventually Google acquired Waze in 2013.
The advice my father gave me has been on my mind ever since.
Wherever I go, I tend to detect the need and brainstorm potential solutions.
At the same time, I can’t help but notice that some big and small startups alike take a different approach in their ventures.
Take Apple, for example
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” ~Steve Jobs
Acompany founded by entrepreneurs who aligned their passions with a market’s need.
They created some of the best computers out there. And they didn’t stop.
In 2001, they released the first ever iPod. A device that changed the way we consume music. Sure, there were a few others MP3 players beforehand as well as the old Walkman (RIP 1979–2010). But Apple found a way to address the need and created a product that quickly became the most popular music player in history.
Later on, the ability to watch videos was added to newer generations of the iPod. It eventually shaped into the first iPhone, released in June 2007, exactly 11 years ago.
In recent years, Apple has taken a different approach. They kept on releasing new products, but without much of an innovation. iPhones, for example, are by far their largest stream of income, so they keep on releasing new upgrades every year. While it does serve a need, the newer iPhones have only two main differences: design and cost.
Being the most popular brand in the world got Apple into a comfort zone. They stopped being creative. In fact, ever since the release of the iPhone and iPad (2007 and 2010, respectively), Apple has only released two new products: the Apple Watch (in 2015) and the HomePod (2018).
Those items were not ground-breaking, though. And it got me thinking:
Is this a need or a greed?
A need or a greed?
Apple Watch isn’t so popular and the HomePod was released almost three years after Amazon’s Echo. Too little, too late?
It seems like the iPhone dominance in the market has negatively affected Apple’s innovative skills. Even the iPhone X was just another iPhone (yet a much more expensive one).
The entrepreneurship fire that burned through this company only 10 years ago seems to have faded away.
I recently watched the highlights from Apple’s WWDC. They have been talking about features like the ‘tongue detection’ for animoji. Seriously?
Big companies, like Apple, have a huge amount of power. In many ways, they shape the way we think and behave. Unfortunately, from time to time, those companies create a need, instead of addressing one. They advertise a trendy yet an unneeded new product to generate income.
But even the trendiest products will not last long if it does not really improve our lives. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
The iPhone’s trendiness (red line) grew continuously for almost four years, until July 2010, when the iPhone 4 was released. Ever since then, there’s only a spike with each new iPhone’s promotion. The blue line represents the iPhone X’s trendiness, which has fallen drastically after its release.
A need is not enough
“It’s hard to tell with these Internet startups if they’re really interested in building companies or if they’re just interested in the money. I can tell you, though: If they don’t really want to build a company, they won’t luck into it. That’s because it’s so hard that if you don’t have a passion, you’ll give up.” ~Steve Jobs
Unfortunately, there are many companies out there who try to force a need. Apple, post-Steve-Jobs, is just one example.
Many companies create and sell products which are focused on greed, not on an actual need.
And the truth is, a lot of so-called entrepreneurs are after that quick buck, too. They have dollars signs in their eyes, instead of a passion in their hearts.
If your life goal is to become an ‘under 30 millionaire’, then please save our time and money and don’t sell us useless products.
Entrepreneurs are innovators. They look for the need, and don’t act from pure greed. But that alone isn’t enough. Because I couldn’t create the first iPhone if I weren’t passionate about technology.
That’s right. Even if there is a real market need, you cannot create a valuable product (or a service) if you aren’t passionate about it.
Take Soundcloud, an online music platform, for example. The founders, Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, are both musicians.
Or Jack Conte, another musician who wanted to find a way to fund his music and founded Patreon.
Those who create products with a desire for money are like musicians who write songs because they want to be famous. It’s like a little girl who says she wants to be a celebrity. Or a boy that wants to be rich.
The world doesn’t need wanna-be entrepreneurs who use the word ‘entrepreneur’ as a synonym for ‘rich’.
We need to be surrounded by creative people who not only see the need but care about it, too.
People who want to improve their own lives as well as others’.
Like the founders of Soundcloud. Or Patreon. Or Steve Jobs.
A world without the invention of the fridge
Imagine what could have happened if people kept selling ice and drying food, instead of finding a better way to preserve food. Imagine your life, as it is today, without an online search and all the data you can access in a second.
Making more car models will not help us save time on the road. Apps like Waze will. Autonomous cars will. Carpool solutions will. Flying cars will.
We need more innovations like the iPhone, but not more of the same.
The one and most important need that we will always have is the need for passionate, innovative people.
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do 👏