A very good friend of mine asked me a few days ago: “What’s the biggest problem facing people and the world that you could see funded at a pretty decent level as a for-profit venture?”
Fantastic question! And a simple answer: There are very few problems in this world which (I believe) can’t be solved in the form of a profitable venture.
This is the amazing thing — the world is full of problems worth solving; solutions which will make a huge difference (clean drinking water? access to affordable health care? clean energy?); and opportunities which have clear economic opportunities attached to them.
Granted they will most likely not be your “get rich quick”-scheme type of opportunities. There might not be a $1BN exit after a year’s worth of work. They most likely require us to knuckle down, develop deep customer empathy with people who live a life not as privileged as ours, in regions where much of what we take for granted is simply not available.
And these are opportunities which will cater for hundreds of millions to billions of people. Most (tech) startups today focus on the few hundred million people on the top of the pyramid — ignoring the next 2–3 billion people. This is your opportunity. These people don’t need to pay you hundreds of dollars a year. A few dollars (or even less) from a very large customer base will do the trick.