I'm definitely not a 'techie' by any measure. My knowledge of HTML and CSS is barely basic. I regularly have to ask my brother for computer help, and it would take me longer than I care to admit to set up a wireless printer.
That being said, I have found a deep love for the startup ecosystem, the little corner of the world thought to be reserved for computer geeks and technology aficionados. My average procrastination routine consists of reading tech-focused media outlets and looking through the portfolios of venture capital firms. I am absolutely enamored with the tech startup scene, and I think you should be too. Here's why.
1. It's Everywhere
We're in the midst of a wave of innovation, where incredibly exciting companies are springing up all over the world. While cities like San Francisco, Tel Aviv, London and Berlin are leading the way, that doesn't mean you can discount a whole plethora of other places, including where you live. As a Montrealer, I've discovered the vibrant startup scene here in a city that does not get much press in the tech-focused outlets. I've found welcoming people, a thriving community, and some damn cool companies.
Not only are they geographically everywhere, but startups are becoming more and more central to our every day lives. Instagram, which more of us use than care to admit, was a startup. So was Facebook. Google recently bought Israeli startup Waze, which is famous for its crowdsourced satellite navigation, so soon you'll be using startup technology to get to your destination (if you aren't already). Startups are responsible for the app you use to find a restaurant, the software you use to manage your company's social media and startup tech is all over the bazillion devices you have in your pocket, car and home.
Startups are everywhere now, and startup communities are too, so you should definitely try to learn a little about them,
2. It's a Corporate Community
This one merits a story. I was sitting in a bar with a 20-something I had met in Tel Aviv. He had founded a startup that was still in its early stages. After I told him a bit about my work, he immediately texted his buddy, another startup founder, whose slightly more developed company had a software that would be useful to me. Within hours I was invited to the limited beta and I was using this new software to improve my work.
The startup world is incredibly friendly. The people in it thrive through networking and spreading their influence through whatever channels they have. It attracts young, ambitious, entrepreneurial people who want to share their work with others. It's a community of people who want to share with each other, which makes getting knee-deep in it come with some benefits. Trying out a new tech is always fun, no matter who you are.
3. It's Where the Coolest Innovations are Happening
These days as much news in innovation comes from startups as from the big corporate players, whether through startups being bought or through them making it big on their own. The Pebble, the subject of one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of all time, had the original smartwatch. Before Samsung, Apple and others entered the market, Pebble was starting up the trend.
Textbooks are being delivered by automated unmanned vehicles in Australia, you can now swipe a credit card through a smartphone attachment to pay at a store, apps can summarize the news through video and so much more. I would give you more examples, but I'm trying to convince you to go and learn more about startups. Putting it all in one place would be a little counterproductive.
4. If You Just Wait for the Product, You Might Never See It
I can almost hear some of you saying: "But Daniel, if these products are so good, I'll just wait for them to be commercialized and then I'll see them anyways! I don't need to worry about startups."
The market is crowded and there are tons of new startups being launched constantly. While that's exciting, it also means you sometimes have to dig a little to find the kinds of things that you might care about. Whether it's a new way to consume your news or a replacement for cable TV, it's out there if you look hard enough, but it's not going to slap you in the face or invite you in for dinner.
As we all know, an unbelievably small proportion of startups make it big, but many do persist and exist in their limited market. So if that product is perfect for you, you have to go looking for it. As my mother always says: "Don't ask, don't get."
So what are you waiting for? Startups are out there, start looking.