Wednesday 11 September 2013

Punk Rock entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars. I may not be the first to draw that analogy and entrepreneurs will not be the last group to be allegorized in this way; TV chefs , footballers and even scientists have all had a similar comparison made. “… are the new rock-stars” is the vocational equivalent to fashion’s “… is the new black”. Rock stars are the benchmark of wild and glamorous. Rock stars have to beat the girls off with a sweaty guitar; rock star means success in excess.   

I wish I was coding
There was a time when every teenager wanted to master the guitar, synthesizer or a pair of decks and play Wembley, Shea or headline Glastonbury. There was a time, and not so long ago, when teens wanted to be getting the action that Steve Tyler, Robert Plant or Tommy Lee were getting. But, now instead of a band many bedroom barons are trying to form a plc.

And here lies a more pragmatic comparison, because becoming a rock star is not all about the music. Becoming a rock star is all about getting out of a mundane life, making shed-loads of money and living large.

Original rock-star/entrepreneur hybrid
Muse may think they are from outer space but it is Mark Shuttleworth, whose Ubuntu Edge recently raised the most pledges in a crowdfunding campaign, who has really been into orbit.

The digital age empowered a sector of youth who didn’t look cool, who didn’t play guitar and couldn’t grow their hair long. What they could do was understand the new age of technology.  They learned to master it and play it like Hendrix. The digital age made smart cool and when they realised that they could make things that would be worth fortunes, everyone started paying attention. The geeks were rock stars and they began making money, lots of money; they became entrepreneurs.

Geeks went into overdrive and their projects got bigger and bigger; Napster, Mozilla and Google became the stadium-fillers. Jobs and his Apple became the deity of tech; his sublime creations, the envy of all. They grabbed huge swathes of the technology market and left very little room for anyone else. Microsoft became one of the biggest companies in the world rivalling the traditional order of oil and banking and in 2011 reports were rife that Apple inc. were more liquid than Uncle Sam, Google owns everyone’s personal data and Facebook owns everyone’s leisure time.

Now in the age of mobile, entrepreneurs are the new Punks. A few bedroom coders have shown the world’s geeks that it ain’t that hard. Google’s play and Apple’s app store has given a stage to the privateers and we are now in a frenzy of global entrepreneurial activity the like the world has rarely seen. Instead of picking up a guitar and throwing shapes in front of the mirror teams of young bright developers are building tools for the smart revolution.    

Cash from chaos
So, the big money is only there for the coders and the developers hunched double over their Thinkpads and Macbooks developing new uses for phone hardware; gps, accelerometers, voice recognition or cameras. No, this is PUNK, anything is possible. Everything is online and if it isn't yet, it will be soon. If it is online then it will be mobile soon; retail, service, leisure, medical. If you can find a new or better way of doing it cyber, you have a chance to disrupt the market, play with the big boys.   

The internet is a huge shopping Mall and mobile is your chance to open a stall outside Amazon’s anchor-store. Rock star entrepreneurs? Meh! we are Punk rockers!      

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