… of every business. There I have said it. Technology has been creeping into every business for sometime now and if you have not noticed, I think it is time you did because the fundamental transformation that is coming in the next decade is going to be stuff that you have only seen in science fiction movies. It baffles me to watch people who are in business ignore this trend. Technology is the foundation of every business. If you have not built a team that thinks that way, it is time you shuffled the deck and rethink your business. I do not believe the marginal improvements that you can make in your business model or capital structure or exploring new markets is going to move the needle. You need a technological solution, read A.I., thats right I am saying it again. Artificial Intelligence is coming in a big way and I think Kevin Kelly is right
The business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI. This is a big deal, and now it’s here.” — Kevin Kelly
I am biased on the software side of things but I can say that just building software is not going to be enough. You need a much broader vision for your product. There is an incredible opportunity lurking in the corner and I just don’t see founders really pushing the envelop on this. We will be discussing a lot about this in Startup Iceland. Startup Iceland 2016 is round the corner and if you have not bought your early bird tickets, we have extended it until May 15th as a number of founders reached out to me to ask me to do that. This blog post was motivated by a number of articles and books that I have been reading recently. The first is the book The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case. Get the book and read it. I think it is important to understand how iconic America Online was and how it paved the way for consumers to embrace the internet. I think it is also telling the Steve Case is investing in the future of technology. I think there is no business in the world that is not going to be touched or improved by technology. It is scary at times that machines have taken over, but it does not have to be, because machines without humans is really nothing. The value derived from the machine to the human existence is what makes the machines viable.
The second article that really explains the steady march of technological improvement was “Whats next in Computing” written by Chris Dixon. If you have not read that, I really think you should. As Chris describes in the article, in my view there are 3 massive trends
- Reduced cost of Cloud Computing
- Reduced cost of hardware due to the “Peace dividend of the smartphone wars”(read the article you know what this means)
- Open sourcing of A.I. technologies by all the major software companies, like TensorFlow, Theano and open.ai,
A small team of startup founders can focus in on any or all of the above 3 trends to totally change the business landscape of any existing industry or new industry. I am not saying this is easy, all I am saying is that it is possible. It takes time, effort, commitment and a vision to change the future, but I can be done! Coming to Iceland, I continue to see the disbelief in the eyes of people when I ramble on about the need to invest in building a vibrant startup community to take advantage of the above mega trends. I cannot emphasize enough that Iceland is ideal for the early phase of building a startup. The experimentation phase, where you test if there is a market. The easiest and cheapest place to validate that experiment is Iceland. Investors in Iceland continue to pour money in real estate and traditional business models. I think the march to invest in the status quo is on-going and I don’t think it will change or it needs to change, however we need to change the vision of the future. If we continue to invest in the business models, technologies and trends of the past, the future would look very much like the past. Actually, that is how it looks now, unless you travel to China, where I am told it feels like the future has arrived.
I am optimistic about founders riding this wave. I know that an incredible amount of capital is being deployed in the U.S. to make this future come to life. A number of the investors who are seeing and investing in the trend are going to be coming to Iceland for Startup Iceland and I encourage all founders to participate in this event. This the time of the year to start thinking about the future, because I know for a fact that the future has not yet been built and it is upto us to build it.