I recently came across an article by Dan Lyons titled “Let’s All Shed Tears for the Crappy Startups that Can’t Raise Any More Money” and I found his argument really compelling. In it, he rips into the startup culture and specifically how entrepreneurship has divulged from building world changing for the better solutions to todays problems, and towards simple gimmick products that are trying to get flipped for a quick buck. More critically, Lyons makes a great point about education and what this euphoria about entrepreneurship has done to the talent pool for research & development for real world problems;
“In my dreams I imagine them leaving the Valley and going off to accomplish something meaningful. Using those brains to do medical research, develop new drugs or eradicate poverty. I imagine them teaching in public schools, providing health care to poor kids. Joining Tesla or SpaceX. Pushing AI a few steps forward. Solving big problems, the kind that can’t get solved in three days on a StartupBus.”
For those who don’t know, StartUp bus is a 72 hour bus trip that challenges a group of strangers to conceive, build, and launch a startup en route to SXSW. In my opinion, this mentality is exactly what’s wrong with entrepreneurship / startups today. It’s the idea that being a part of a startup is a quick, easy, and fun experience with a pot of gold at the end. While being a part of a startup is a lot of fun, it isn’t for everyone. The hours are long, it can be turbulent, and the reward isn’t always in sight. The true handwork and commitment of real entrepreneurs has been somewhat undermined by these gimmicks, and it’s causing a brain drain of smart and talented individuals from science and engineering fields leaving what I fear could be a sizable research and development gap during these years of startup craze. I highly recommend reading Mr. Lyons article and thinking about the implications of the current startup culture and perhaps consider doing your / our part to curb this startup euphoria and turn the focus back to studying science and engineering as well as undertaking real research and development to create real solutions to real problems.
Here is a link to the article: http://readwrite.com/2012/12/03/lets-all-shed-tears-for-the-crappy-startups-that-cant-raise-any-more-money