I was discussing with a colleague the inevitability of supermarket retailers being disrupted the same way department stores have been . I contended that in a few short years the technology will arrive that allows a supermarket shopping experience on line that is cheaper and better in every way than entering a store – not even considering the time saved. Their retort I found to be an interesting one….
They claimed it was too difficult logistically. That the shift would even need to involve some kind of one way cupboard and or refrigerator being installed at the door of every house to take delivery of the goods. They even made reference to the fact that the goods would need to be segmented into different delivery boxes based on their temperature storage requirements. Besides the fact that this person had terrific ‘solutions’ within their proposed issues scope – it made me think about how the places we live in have already changed significantly based on technology, social and commercial innovations. Innovations which have been pushed into homes based on an entrepreneurial imperative.
The simplest example is the driveway. Something that no home in the history of man had before the nineteenth century. A simple yet expensive convenience all new homes were built with after WW2. Based the desire of home owners to have the convenience of a private transport device, adjacent industries responded with solutions. In fact, a large part of the Henry Ford strategy was to convince government to pave the roads of America and accommodate his burgeoning industry. So it isn’t silly to believe that the impending upheaval in the supermarket industry will involve a great deal coalescing from the ‘new supply chain’ and home designers and builders. Through history this has happened in both large and small ways. But to jog your memory, here’s a few more examples of technology placed into homes to assist homeowners and new industries:
- the letter box
- the kitchen
- the inside bathroom
- the inside toilet
- telephone cables
- internal plumbing & gas fitting
- internal electricity
- heating & cooling systems
- wifi systems
In fact we could probably add everything under the roof that doesn’t involve the primary idea of housing – providing shelter.
The insight for startups is two fold: Firstly, we can inspire and believe that the infrastructure will arrive to support an innovation which makes life better for people. And secondly, we can be the provider of that infrastructure to make the next growth industry possible.
New startup idea for free – One way in home front door fridges!
While technology and lifestyles has shifted radically in the past few hundred years, the human DNA hasn’t evolved very much at all in the past few thousand. It’s one of the reasons why we are becoming obese. Our bodies are just not designed to have some much access to food, and so much automation and leisure time. Another interesting quirk of our DNA is the fear instinct. An instinct which is totally vital for survival, until a a few hundred years ago. In a pre-civilised world, failure could mean being killed while gathering food.
The problem with the fear instinct is that it gets in the way of us doing our best work in a modern world. It can stop us from proposing amazing ideas, and disrupting old outdated methods. The fear we have is not of death, but these days usually only of embarrassment or financial loss, neither of which will kill us.
This fear robs us of our best chance to make a difference, and generate the momentum we need. The best way to overcome this fear to remind ourselves that the fear we are facing is emotional and not physical. And almost every circumstance, what we are afraid of will not stop us from having a second chance.
You may have noticed that there are a lot of ‘Older’ Rockstars coming out to perform in your country. Bands we thought we’d only hear on Golden Oldies radio stations and never see live again. Well they are all back playing live again….
…I’m guessing it’s not buy choice. The fact that it’s pretty hard to find a record store these days is a good indication that the royalty streams old rockstars lived on have dried up for good. It’s much harder for older music to be promoted on iTunes than it was in a store that could only carry 2000 albums – from the artists who always got played on the radio. Their industry has been disrupted to the point where they now have to sing for their supper. Actively earn a living, versus passively receiving cash for deeds of yesteryear. Hence the deluge of 1980′s rockstars now touring again.
At some point disruptive technology effects us all. As startup entrepreneurs we are often the the creators of the disruption. As successful business people in years to come, our revenue streams will ultimately be disrupted by the next iteration. What we must do is create a war chest of revenue streams once we make bank. And the best advice I’ve ever been given that is future proof is this:
Build businesses, then buy real estate.
Sure it might sound boring, but one thing for certain is that it’s hard to see technology disrupting the value of good real estate. At least in our life times.
3D printing is really starting to blow my mind. As far as I can tell it is taking the information we are currently living through and making it physical. It’s the missing link. The start of being able to create everything from nothing – ephemeralization. Converting the first 20 elements into stuff, by organizing information, ones and zeros. About 20 years from now, you’ll remember talk about 3D printing, the same way we remember hearing stuff about a connected world through computers in the mid 1980′s. I think it will be more disruptive and bigger than the internet.
In order to just make sure you are across what is happening here’s the most famous Youtube Clip about 3D printing which is from the Discovery channel. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting a large article about all the implications on the world. And before you watch the clip below here is a list of some things that have already been printed by such machines:
Bicycles, cars, tools with moving parts, furniture, drone aircraft and even balls bearings.
It’s coming and it is going to change everything.
A popular story in science folklore is that the aerodynamics of bees suggest that they should not be able to fly. It was hotly debated in at a time when human flight via aircraft was being mastered (around the 1930′s). Because physicists and aerodynamic specialists had started to develop theory of ‘predictable flight’ with machinery, they believed their knowledge applied to all forms of flight.
Of course bees do fly. A bee is very small. And, at that size, air acts as a much more viscous fluid than it does for airplanes and helicopters. So the laws of aerodynamics are quite different for bees and other insects. But it took some time before this was understood and that new theoretical models were developed relative to the size of the thing of flight.
The point for entrepreneurs is important, especially at a time when technology is challenging existing business models. So the next time someone tries to put the kybosh on your new idea or startup remember that based on yesterdays knowledge, bees can’t fly.