The Millennial Startup Revolution
Never has starting a business been so hip. Wary of our stressed-out, corporate-ladder climbing parents, over half of millennials would like to start a business. Many of those aged 18-34 are eager to take the leap with one poll showing that one in five of millennials plan to quit their day job to start their own business.
But why? It’s a well-known fact that most startups fail. Three-quarters of the companies that receive venture capital (VC) funding never return that investment. And that only counts the startups that get to that stage. Venture capital firms reject 99% of startups that seek funding. So my millennial friends, I’ve got to say that the odds are not in our favor.
And yet we persist! The naïveté and idealism of youth probably has something with it. But I believe that there is a special cocktail of social and economic factors that has turned “Gen Y” into “Generation Y Not… Start This in my Parents Basement?”
1. We Don’t Have Anything Better to Do
It doesn’t take a government shutdown to tell you how incredibly fragile our economy still is. According to TIME, 64% of young Americans ages 16 to 24 who are enrolled in school do not have a full-time job, which is 10% less than in 2007. We’re nowhere near the unemployment of young Spainards (56%) or Greek youth (58%), but the unappetizing prospect of remaining unemployed or working a low-wage internship has inspired many of us to crown ourselves CEO.
2. We Crave More Meaning
The ideas expressed in the viral article Why Gen Y Yuppies are Unhappy are as pervasive as they are oversimplified. Millennials probably do have an overinflated set of expectations, fueled by an Instagram personality complex where everyone looks happier than we’ll ever be, but that’s not the point. In a country where we spend our entire lives at work, frantically checking our smartphones for new work emails, doesn’t it make sense that our young people would choose happiness over traditional corporate-ladder climbing notions of success?
3. It’s Easier Than Ever
When my colleagues and I decided to start Kuli Kuli we went to mynewcompany.com and within a few days we had a legally recognized corporation. I’m not necessarily advocating it, we had to get a lawyer to help us straighten things up later, but there is no denying that the Internet has made starting a business easier than ever. And the proliferation of startup-focused blogs and websites has expedited the learning curve. Don’t know what a term sheet is? Google has 106 million answers for you.
4. We Don’t Trust Our Leaders
Wall Street crashed our economy, polarized politicians shut down our government, and the news is rife with reports of corruption at the top (Mark Sanford, Bob Filner, Kwane Kilpatrick). No wonder less than half of Americans trust the government and less than that trust Wall St. When we can no longer rely on our leaders to solve our problems for us, many of us are looking within and building our own solutions for a diverse array of problems such as climate change (Mosaic), childhood obesity (Revolution Foods) and access to sanitation (Who Gives a Crap).
What does it mean for society when our young people are more likely to run a Kickstarter campaign than run for political office? When the epitome of success isn’t a steady job at a well-known company but building an app that’s like Facebook for [insert niche group here]? Where owning an Etsy store or an organic food truck are viable career paths?
Only time will tell how our entrepreneurial generation will evolve. But one thing is for sure, this generation is poised to fundamentally change the way we think about entrepreneurship. The millennial startup revolution is here to stay.
This article was posted on Forbes, 11/18/13