“Build an app” and the rise of Startups

The idea of starting your own business has become an increasingly attractive idea through the popularisation of entrepreneurial culture in films such as “The Social Network” as well as the rise of many popular companies such as Instagram, Snapchat and even Australian based Atlassian. Popular culture has in turn propelled entrepreneurship in the digital age as an increasingly attractive endeavour through the idea of “Building the next big thing” and “making your dreams come true”. I’ll mainly be looking at technology based startups, which are scalable business ventures based primarily through technology. However, there will be overlap towards traditional business as it is a very big topic to be covering in just one article.

Let’s begin with the idea of a startup unicorn, which in tech community are startups which have reached a valuation of 1 billion dollars. Notable unicorns include Atlassian, Uber, Snapchat and of course, Facebook. Tech culture and tech startups have created an attractive view to what it means to be a startup founder, however the harsh reality of technology startups is that only 10% eventually break a profit, what will happen to the other 90%? Time, money and effort is eventually put to waste and startup founders are either left to just move on, or try something new. A good example of this is American based Australian fashion startup 99Dresses, and Nikki Durkin’s reflection of it’s failure online through her post, “My startup failed, and this is what it feels like”. Stories like the above are rarely told and all people hear are the successes and not the failures. Technology based startups are a competitive business and as a result the founders of such businesses should be willing to undertake the risk, and persevere towards success as well as be aware of the consequences of failure.

I feel as if the gradual, almost childlike characterization of growing tech culture has in turn fostered a different view of what it means to be an entrepreneur, instead of being an untrodden, risky task, it is perceived as a trendy, viable “get rich quick” alternative to full time work. As a startup founder, I feel this is both positive and negative as the more open, lower barrier to entry creates founders whom have not entirely processed the risks associated with entrepreneurship. As well as this, it also creates intent to monetize shoddy products, reflected particularly through the creation of “app culture” and the influx of “cheap, scaffold apps” flooding the android app store, notably seen in the case of Flappy Bird’s countless clones. I’m sure many have heard someone quote similar to “build an app and become rich like Flappy Bird did”. However, this lower barrier to entry has been positive through the creation of more innovative products through technology now reaching a broader population of people.

The influx of new technology based startups have drawn large parallels to the tech boom of the early 2000’s tech bubble which caused countless bankruptcies and even suicides. However, one could argue the billions poured the tech community as of late has effectively rendered this need removed through the increased presence of technological infrastructure at present, but how can we know for sure? The answer is time will tell, however It’s interesting to see the amount of startups in Australia alone have increased 20% in recent years, most recently with Malcolm Turnbull himself promoting an “ideas boom” and his plan to turn Australia into an entrepreneurial society. Australia’s move away from it’s traditional mining source of income has begun and Australia will be forced to grow its economy through other sources.

This rise of entrepreneurial technology based startups are growing heavily in countries such as India, China, with prominent success stories such as China’s Alibaba and India’s FlipKart, the creation of startups and entrepreneurial culture in India or China currently have large potential with a significant percentage of the population gaining internet access over time. The gradual increase of internet access coupled with entrepreneurial culture should help push developing countries towards becoming an increasing presence on a global scale. Barrier to entry is consistently being lowered and developing countries have become next frontier for tech startups reflected by Facebook aggressively targeting India and other developing countries with their Free basics program which is a free service which provided free internet access to India for a number of websites determined by Facebook which as of now has been rejected by the Indian government through it’s perception as a threat to net neutrality.

With the world becoming increasingly automated and technology becoming an increasing factor in society. Society will see a definite shift towards more technically oriented or creative roles and Malcom Turnbull’s ‘ideas boom’ is a move in the right direction. Startup founders like myself will increase over time and entrepreneurial roles will be eventually perceived as the norm. This is because as societal automation increases over time and traditional employment decreases, society as a result will drastically be changed.