Startups: Do We Really Need Them?

Some time ago, I responded to a LinkedIn discussion about startups. An MBA student posed the question, are startups necessary with so many businesses already in existence? The student went on to discuss the concept of recycling businesses, adding to current business models with an additional component or two – as the alternative to developing a startup. The premise was akin to remodeling an old house and as an investment strategy, flipping it.

These are some very interesting thoughts – “recycled” or “flipped” businesses instead of closed businesses. Basically, if you can’t make it, give someone else a shot. Diversification would be a necessity. Successful businesses may be worth more. But what is the contingency plan if the improvements and / or additions actually take the business in a different direction?

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 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, heaven forbid, could we end up moving toward a small number of powerful entities controlling all industries, and the world?

Some see startups as catalysts for growth but they’re more than that. They are the engine of growth itself. They solve problems no other sector is addressing with innovative thinking, thus pushing society forward – all while creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and attracting investment.

No startups? I think not!

But still an interesting thought to say the least. One that I believe could actually spur creativity and innovation. It’s definitely out of the box thinking and as a hybrid could be a disruptor philosophy and one that could also create jobs, stimulate the economy, and attract investment.

A case in point is what Stratis Morfogen has done with his newest concept, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, essentially a hybrid of the old Horn & Hardart cafeteria model as the foundation of a modern QSR. Add to the mix an additional hybrid component from his idea of one-ounce sandwiches in a dumpling fashion from his successful steakhouse ventures, and a star is born.

In my opinion, the success possibilities, like the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop are far greater than a startup based entirely upon unproven components and those based upon wishes, hopes and dreams.

So, back to answering the question about the necessity of startups, 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.

But it’s what we learn from all that makes up startups that helps expand success of other businesses, and even industries. Adding in proven components as opposed to attempting to recreate the wheel can bring in innovation not previously thought of before.

Someone in the discussion thread looked down at this thought of “redundant solutions” as a waste of time and resources. My thought is that without startups clicking at the heals of established companies, would those companies continue to improve on solutions they had already developed or just stop, sit back and rake in the profits?

Afterall, why continue spending millions in improving solutions if no one else is working on more effective solutions? And wouldn’t it be better for all if technologies are learned from and shared for even more purpose?

In simple terms, if we’ve created a trap that would 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? Or just flat-out more effective?

Or, if a new solution is built with technology that could be used for other products and even across industry segments? For instance, what if a better mouse trap becomes the foundational component of a new wild hog trap? One that helps alleviate a growing problem that according to a USDA study can be blamed for $1.5 billion in damages every year in the United States? 

Do away with startups? Heck, no!

Have a great day. Make it happen. make it count!