Startups: Do We Really Need Them?

bonsai-treeI recently responded to a group discussion on LinkedIn where an MBA student asked the question, “Do we need startups?” This student went on to add, ” I just read Digital Darwinism by Evan Schwartz and it led me to wonder, with so many startups I hear about each day, How many actually serve a purpose? How many actually provide a non redundant solution to a problem?” After considerable thought, I responded accordingly…

Interesting thought. “Recycled” businesses instead of closed businesses. If you can’t make it, give someone else a shot. Diversification would be a necessity. Successful business may be worth more.

On the other side of the coin, startups brought us Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Henry Ford just to name a few. Would they have been as innovative working for a company as opposed to blazing the trails themselves? What would the world have missed without them? Would tomorrow’s Gates, Jobs, Disneys and Fords be left to work “within the box” as opposed to “outside the box?”

I have not even begun to think about the rise of even more powerful companies resulting in massive monopolies. In the end, would we wind up with just a small handful of enormous conglomerates owning and operating every industry? Or, could we end up with only one all powerful entity controlling all industries, and the world?

No startups? I think not! But still an interesting thought to say the least.

So, back to answering your question – I believe they all serve a purpose in lending to innovation and creativity that are vital to our future. Vital to democracy. Vital to free enterprise. Vital to helping third world countries. Vital to making the world a better place for today and tomorrow.

Redundant solutions? Without startups clicking at their heals, would companies continue to improve on solutions they’ve developed or just stop as they developed the solutions and then just sit back and rake in the profits. Afterall, why continue spending millions in improving on your solutions if no one else is working on a more effective solution. In simple terms, if we’ve created a trap that will catch mice, do we really need a better mousetrap? Maybe not from the practical sense. But what if we could catch a mouse a different way and it’s more cost effective? Or, maybe it has less health risks. Or more humane?