Why am I an impact investor and a teacher of social/mission-driven entrepreneurs rather than sticking with software startups like most everyone else? Simple. It’s what the world needs.
I spent the first twenty years of my career as a software entrepreneur, building venture-scale software companies backed by some of the biggest name in California venture capital. Five startups, four of which I (co)founded. It’s been eleven years since them and with my connections and success I could have built two or three more by now.
But back in 2011 I couldn’t do another tech company.
Looking back over the decade-plus, that was a great decision. I did end up creating three more companies, but all three “do good by doing well” and all three have made a measurable impact in the world. A real impact toward lessening poverty, hunger, and other big issues.
That is the key lesson I learned back in 2011, that it is possible for for-profit capitalism to solve the big, real, tragic problems of the the world. That is the key lesson that is unfortunately rarely taught in business school, rarely discussed in the business press, and simply not talked enough about.
We leave the problems of poverty, hunger, health, inequality, etc. to the nonprofits and governments to solve, and while they try, they make too small of a dent in those global issues. Why? Because the philanthropists and governments try and solve those problems by brute force, with top-down solutions that often don’t work, plus the simple fact that those two parts of society don’t have anywhere near enough money to solve even one of those issues, let alone all of them.
Take a step back and ask why, when I’m standing in a rural town in Africa, a day’s drive from any major city, I’m no more than an hours walk from a bottle of Coca Cola. No philanthropist or government paid for that Coca Cola reseller to set up shop. That Coca Cola doesn’t solve hunger or poverty and certainly not health. But not only is it there, the dukas of East Africa in those towns are painted red with Coca Cola logos.
That is the power of for-profit companies. Profits. Profits drive scale. For for-profit companies whose missions are hunger, health, or poverty, that scale drives actual impact.
Once I learned this was possible, why would I want to spend my time building yet-another software company that saved a few minutes for a fellow American when I could instead spend my time creating companies that help the 4 billion people who spend far too much of their time gathering water and cooking fuel each day, who can’t afford a to send their children to school, who can’t afford a doctor’s visit, and who certainly feel it when they splurge to pay for a bottle of Coca Cola, which to them is a luxury good.
So to all of you who are dreaming of their next tech startup, or to all of you funding those startups, before you spend you time on yet-another Saas for whatever, give a thought to instead doing something impactful. CONTACT me to learn how.