The Hipster: Entrepreneur 2.0
The following essay is my 10th grade Honors English research paper.
“Think Different,” (qtd. in “The Real Story Behind ‘Think Different’”). Steve Jobs, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, created that slogan for his computing company, Apple, Inc. Hipsters (often mocked and ridiculed for their beliefs), a subgroup of contemporary counter culture that values independent thinking, progressive politics, activism, creativity, and intelligence, certainly do “Think Different”. Like Steve Jobs, most hipsters are the fruit of the young generation — they are highly educated; often have liberal arts, science, or mathematics degrees; and they all want to “leave a dent in the universe,” ( qtd. in “The Real Story Behind ‘Think Different’”). All of those characteristics make contemporary hipsters some of the best entrepreneurs the world has to offer.
Entrepreneurship has come to the forefront of contemporary hipster culture since the dot-com boom, when the Internet became a common tool. The Internet opened up opportunities for the likes of Jon Contino, Jared Erondu, and Drew Wilson to create the successful startups CXXVI Clothing Co. (a clothing line catering toward hipsters), Evomail (an email app used by millions of people every day), and Space Box (a small-business alternative to the PayPal corporation), respectively. Jon, Jared, and Drew are some of the best entrepreneurs and graphic designers that the world has to offer. And, for the record, Jon, Jared, and Drew are all hipsters (not self-acknowledging, but they are hipsters nonetheless). Throughout their short yet successful careers, the three have acquired, honed, and mastered countless indispensable skills. But how exactly do they acquire those skills, and how do they put them to use? Enter the startup.
A startup is a small, usually unfunded company that searches for a sustainable business model while catering to the needs or wants of a specific demographic. With the Internet growing so quickly, most modern startups are Internet-based and cater to average internet users, web designers and developers, and fellow (hipster) entrepreneurs. A few good examples of Internet startups are Twitter, Evomail, and Space Box (of which the latter two were, as previously stated, created by Jared Erondu and Drew Wilson, respectively). These startups have been Brobdingnagianly successful, raking in millions of dollars in profit every year. Startups, unlike big businesses, are founded for one main reason: to solve a problem. There are many problems today, many of which are caused by technology. With that in mind, hipsters, who want to make a difference in the world, set out to solve these problems by creating a new product; and that is the basis of the new generation of entrepreneurs — entrepreneurs 2.0. This new generation of entrepreneurs is mostly made up of millennials born from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s (Stillman).
As stated previously, most hipsters and entrepreneurs want to make a difference in the world before their short existence comes to an end. When a hipster — who has an all-around ethical, well thought out ideology, becomes an entrepreneur — a strong minded, fierce competitor, an almost unstoppable force can be created. Some people, however, believe that becoming an entrepreneur and joining a startup is a poor choice.
One such person, Michael O. Church, stated in a blog post that, “With some exceptions, startups are generally not vehicles for world-changing visions. Startups need to think about earning revenue within the existing world, not ‘changing humanity as we know it’.” Church also believes that,
“’The vision thing’ is an aspect of the pitch that is used to convince 22-year-old engineers to work for 65 percent of what they’d earn at a more established company, plus some laughable token equity offering.”
“It’s not real,” states Church later on in the same blog post. “The vision thing,” however, is very real. As stated earlier, many entrepreneurs nowadays are in fact hipsters. In an article in Forbes entitled, “2012's Most Fashionable Term: Entrepreneur. But Are You Really One?” author Tom Post declares that entrepreneurs must have at least five characteristics in order to be successful and, in effect, change the world. These characteristics are:
1. Do not take yourself for granted.
2. Make sure to be crazy and to be different.
3. Work for yourself and throw aside corporate mentality.
4. Embrace the inevitability of problems and take those problems in stride.
5. Focus on the money, but have faith in every aspect of the company or startup.
6. And “for luck,” Post threw in one more important quality: optimism — the ability to see the bright side in any issue.
These characteristics of successful entrepreneurs are all exemplified in the ideals of hipsters! The counterculture “youngsters” known as hipsters do not need to obtain those characteristics; they are born with them! In the same blog post that was quoted earlier, Michael O. Church goes as far as to state that,
“Scientific research changes the world. Large-scale infrastructure projects change the world…Startups are not a good vehicle for “changing the world”. What they are excellent at is finding ways to profit from inexorable, pre-existing trends by doing things that (a) have recently become possible, but that (b) no one had thought of doing (or been able to do) before.”
Church sure is quite the card! A jokester! Surely he jests! But alas, he truly does believe that. First of all, the United States and its economy shape the rest of the world’s economies. When the “large-scale infrastructure projects” send American jobs overseas, it damages the American economy! However, here comes that “silly, flamboyant” startup led by the “dumb” hipster entrepreneur; and look — it is coming to clean up the big business’ messes! Startups do not send jobs overseas, so “it looks like small businesses will continue to be the ones who employ Americans who still create things” (Vartan). The fact remains that startups and small businesses, which are primarily led by heroic hipster entrepreneurs, are slowly changing the world; and that, as William Deresiewicz stated, “Generation Sell”, or the young entrepreneur generation made up primarily of hipsters is a good idea.
“People should understand that their chances of individually effecting global change, even at a startup, are very small” (Church).
It is definitely worth noting that, despite the debt handed down to the hipster generation by Church’s generation, the hipsters continue to prosper. Why? Well, because of the “tiny, trivial pursuit” of the hipster entrepreneur. The strong work ethic; brainy, witty attitude; high education; and creative minds of hipsters will no doubt create the new generation of super entrepreneurs. If one day it turns out that the world is dependent upon startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, everyone will have to stop making fun hipsters. Everyone will have to respect the power of the new generation of entrepreneurs. Everyone will bow down to the entrepreneur 2.0.
This post is sponsored by The Guild, an invite-only publishing network focusing on design, written by the brightest young designers the industry has to offer.