The Next Wave of Startups Is Coming Out of Nature

Whether it’s AI or concrete, innovation is coming straight from the natural world.

Sam Nattress
The Startup
Published in
8 min readJul 4, 2020


“Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

— Peter Thiel, Zero to One

Thiel is saying that Microsoft, Google and Facebook all made something new. They went from nothing to something, from zero to one.

Now that we have an index of the internet, operating systems and social networks, that moment has passed. The next phase of innovations will not come from building on top of what they have built.

It will come from building something new.

Innovation comes from questioning the conventional wisdom of “how things are done”. Contrarian thinking leads to world-changing startups.

There’s a new wave of startups who are going against one of the most pervasive assumptions of our time: that we should look to technology for solutions to our most pressing issues.

These are the startups based on biomimicry. Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that looks for solutions to human challenges in nature’s vast library of strategies and patterns.

Biomimicry startups are asking nature how to design smart AI, build sustainable houses and, ultimately, address the most pressing issues of our time.

Bird-Brained Artificial Intelligence

Unanimous AI is a biomimicry startup you might have heard of.

It’s known for successfully predicting the last 3 years of Oscar winners, Time’s Person of the Year and Donald Trump’s 100-day approval rating (which it got down to the exact point).

But Unanimous is not your normal deep-learning AI. It’s “swarm AI”, based on how birds…



Sam Nattress
The Startup

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