I’ve had the opportunity to listen to many business leaders in the past year and more recently, I listened to Saul Singer, the co-author of the Start-up nation. The Start-up Nation is a story of triumph against all odds by a country of about 7 million people, surrounded by hostile neighbours, lacks natural resources and has no open land borders.
Before I continue writing, let me put out a disclaimer that this post has got nothing to do with the politics of the region, but focuses more on how technology can make all the difference. By developing some of the world’s most advanced and commercial technologies, Israel has been able to make up for what it lacks in natural resources and local markets and now focuses on exporting technology beyond its immediate region.
Saul Singer however thinks that starting up a company just fore the exit opportunities may not be sustainable over time and is definitely not enough to improve the quality of our current fast-paced lives. According to Saul, we must reinvent our health care, our education and our cities. He mentioned some really cool companies such as Beyond Verbal that uses vocal bio-markers to assess patient well being, health condition and emotional state, and SkyTran who is looking to reinvent cities by creating high-speed human transit pods that are easy to replicate and relatively cheap to set up.
Reinvention is a concept that I’m very familiar with and has been the driving force behind my entrepreneurial journey thus far. I remember when I launched my footwear business, I couldn’t think of a better tag line than “reinventing classic silhouettes” and now with Sueted, I’m looking to re-invent the delivery experience of online shoppers. The desire to reinvent is definitely not unique to me as it is apparent from the number of start-ups that currently exist and are continuously popping up. My fascination, however, is with the conundrums faced by some startups in their transition from the old to the new. For instance, Sky Tran wants to reduce congestion in cities by installing single passenger pods but cannot ignore the social aspect of driving in cars with multiple passenger and will therefore need to find a way to integrate some of the features of traditional driving with their technology.
The same goes for eCommerce giants such as Amazon who significantly changed the game in retail shopping by creating the eCommerce concept. Amazon and Alibaba are now investing in brick-and-mortar stores probably because they have also identified the importance of using inventions to connect the old to the new. I’ll talk more about connecting the old to the new in a later post but my key takeaway from Saul’s presentation in my own words is as follows:
In order to successfully and sustainably fuel reinvention, we need leadership, courage, strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, resilience, determination, curiosity and the ability to communicate. My favorite one is resilience as this is one attribute that most big companies that have lasted decades have in common and this has kept them relevant in their respective industries.