Startups and the Social Good
While many in the startup entrepreneurial sector are often regarded as capitalistic and money hungry, I would say that the vast majority of people that I have come across in this very quickly emerging sector have seen a problem in their community, environment, country and so on, and sought to solve it. Now I am guessing that this is not just a solitary problem that only these innovators ran into, otherwise they would never have received the funds to get off the ground; my guess is that this was something that many people felt impassioned enough to invest in and see it to fruition.
Startups have fostered charities, CharityVillage.com; have created new technologies that have assisted people in need, Komodo – OpenLab from Ryerson’s DMZ, and; have brought education to the fingertips of millions, 2tor.com. The question I have asked myself often is, how can these great and innovative ideas, be expanded and fill the gaps that are often left by government agencies and departments?
The answer is simpler than most realize. Governments tend to be reactive. They react to the wishes of their constituents, they react to current events, and they react to market forces. Seldom do you see governments taking a proactive approach and really taking the future by the proverbial horns. Now don’t get me wrong governments do take proactive measures to prevent economic, natural, human disasters, but there is a need for government to embrace a future sector and for that future sector to be aware of government initiatives.
“significant employers of tomorrow”
-Centre for Digital Entrepreneurship and Economic Performance
“Toronto has by far the largest number of startups [in the country], but you wouldn’t know that because the geographic fragmentation is so big and wide,”
-John Ruffolo, CEO – OMERS Venture
In mid-February of 2016 the Trudeau government in Ottawa announced they will begin studies to investigate ‘helping startups become billion-dollar firms’. As well, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic announced in early-February 2016 a $25-million investment in a high-tech, potentially startup, corridor in Ontario. The time is now for the startup community to ensure governments invest properly and responsibly in their sector – because too often governments will toss money at a problem irresponsibly or lump it into a hidden pool that no one can access.
Emerging technologies and innovative ways of doing things are never going away – anytime soon, nor should they. It is up to governments to embrace new ways forward if they want to find better ways to solve today’s problems. Young innovators have always thought outside of the box and this is something that should be fostered. Mark my words, the place that truly embraces the innovative startup market, will be the country, province, city – whatever jurisdiction you want – that will truly be the world’s marvel and will set the tone for everyone else going forward.
Ari S. Laskin, Principal
Global Strategic Consulting, Inc.