If a Business Improves Peoples' Lives, It Will Succeed
Ben Lerer of Lerer Hippeau Ventures explains how investors and inventors alike can pursue success by following trends of disruption.
Big Think Edge is a video-driven platform that catalyzes happiness and performance in professional environments by cultivating leadership, creativity, and self-knowledge. Learn more about Big Think Edge.
"Probably the easiest way to think about how we think about opportunity is any area, any sector, any business that has not yet been totally disrupted by the existence of the internet will be."
Simply put, the internet's influence on the business world has resulted in profitable solutions to thousands of myriad inefficiencies. This often occurs through disruption. Companies like Uber and Hailo, for example, offer digital solutions to the problems innate in the taxi industry. Services like Steam, OpenTable, and Airbnb have changed the ways people perform regular tasks such as shop for video games, make dinner reservations, and arrange non-hotel lodging.
Inventors and entrepreneurs alike should seek to emulate these companies in how they identify structural weaknesses within their respective industries and conjure up a fix. Lerer is less excited about companies that trod ground already covered by someone else. If he were to meet with an entrepreneur touting a digital movie-rental startup, Lerer would likely be wary of investing because digital movie rentals isn't a new solution to an old problem. That road has already been traveled.
Lerer instead offers an example of an opportunity that recently piqued his interest: Casper, a mattress company with an innovative vertical integration approach (we've covered Casper briefly on this site before). "Shopping for a mattress totally sucks," says Lerer, and he's right. It sucks just like finding places to eat in strange towns sucked before Yelp, or how arranging live communication with your friend in Botswana sucked before Skype. Even if Casper isn't the eventual victor of the future-minded mattress wars, Lerer's investment represents a commitment to a company that has identified a problem and seeks to fix it.
These are the kinds of startups that attract the best talent and the most eager investors. As Lerer says, the key is that a company should exist rather than just could exist. It makes little sense to support a company not driven by an imperative urge to improve consumers' lives. It makes little sense to build a startup that isn't guided by a goal to tackle a problem that hasn't yet been solved. "Make people’s lives better with what you’re building," says Lerer, "and generally you’re heading in the right direction."
Learn more about Big Think Edge.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
- The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
- According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.