This week was TechCrunch Disrupt here in NY. A lot of people point to this event as evidence that NY is real when it comes to the tech scene and the startup scene. To be sure NY and some SV royalty were to be spotted around the 3 day event. The sessions were interesting and insightful as one would expect. There were plenty of entrepreneurs with good ideas drumming up interest. It was pleasant.
This time around, however, I didn’t feel the electricity I had hoped for. Maybe it was the weather, which was crappy all three days. Maybe it was my more seasoned (or perhaps jaded) perspective. A couple years back I snuck into TechCrunch on a borrowed badge on the afternoon of the last day. I remember being so excited. I remember thinking how amazing all of these ideas are. I walked out after only a couple hours pumped up for the coming year. This year I didn’t feel that. In short what I didn’t feel, I think, was ‘disruption’.
Look, there were cool companies in attendance this year. There were smart entrepreneurs. There were good ideas (by the way, I loved the gTar). I just didn’t see anything that was going to change the world. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. How hard do you have to look for an idea that is going to change the world – not very hard right? It should be obvious.
One might argue that this is evidence that the current ‘boom cycle’ in venture cap is running it’s course. We have parsed the eCommerce meets social for the __________ (pick a sector) into fine enough subsegments and now we are done until Web x.0 comes around. This argument is that essentially those truly innovative/disruptive ideas don’t come around very often. Maybe.
Or you might argue that lower barriers to entry for a startup have just watered down the disruption. Literally, the venture side just needs to look through more hay to find the needle than they once did. If that is the case, fine. It just means more startups that don’t get funded. Hopefully that’s not the case, although it may be.
I think entrepreneurs just need to be urged to think bigger. The Howard Hughes among us need to be prodded to “shock the world”. Let’s just take a second to think about the week that Elon Musk had. (Quick summary: he is the co-founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and X.com, which later became Paypal. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t turn 40 until next month.) This week one of his companies successfully docked the first commercial space craft at the international space station for a cargo delivery. We are talking ‘create new industries, impact futures generations’ type big ideas. This guy is thinking software, hardware, electric cars, rocket ship big. This guy is thinking little boy who doesn’t know any better big. He’s thinking BIG!
Okay, so we are not all Howard Hughes or Elon Musk or Tony Stark. That doesn’t stop us from thinking bigger, from thinking different, from taking risk. That doesn’t stop us from disrupting. Who knows, you may be an Elon Musk type and just not know it yet.
This morning I spent time ‘thinking bigger’ and I’ve formed a secret plan. I’m not ready to come out of stealth just yet. But some day you will know what it is – and I will point to this blog post as reasons when and why it happened. For me, it’s big.
So… bigger please!