Posts Tagged ‘Gen Y’
it’s all about sex appeal, and it seems that the cash-poor, unglamorous, ramen filled world of startups has managed to overtake the steel and glass tall buildings, expense accounts and suit and tie life of investment banking in the eyes of college students. of course the first reaction most people while have is d’oh, financial crisis mr blogger? isn’t it obvious. they’ve probably already clicked out.
for those of you who haven’t, i want to engage in a conversation with you that suggests the fundamentals of why young people are thinking more seriously about getting involved in startups, either by founding one, or joining one early-stage, is more fundamental than the economy and the fewer job opportunities on wall street. When I threw away my aspirations to be an investment banking superstar (check out the loser on the left), I thought I was being some kind of rebel, but as most instance in my life, nothing all that special, just context. If you look around, you see a new breed of college student, people call us Gen Yers, Generation U, Millenials. At Blank Label we call ‘us’ Connected Individuals, and have coined the term #CONNECTEDINDIVIDUALISM. We’re impatient, generally needy, have been brought up fairly entitled, mostly in small families. We associate with independence, we see more young people than ever doing really cool shit. And that really cool shit is not making money off the buying and selling of others. Yes, that was a jibe at bankers.
But if you think about those characteristics as a generation we generally embody, a lot of them are closely correlated with why young people are starting companies these days. We’re giving the finger to the corporate rat race. We’re thankfully irrational enough to think we actually have a decent shot of founding a startup, I’m sure by serious of orders of magnitude if you measured what young founders thought their chance of success was vs what was realistic based on balance of probabilities, the economy would be seriously worried. Thankfully that’s a hard study to do. What the real catalyst driving a lot of this is the actual success of young entrepreneurs. Much of the reason why I wanted to go into banking is because peers who were a few years older were talking about the six figure salary, the friday night open bar parties, the ass-kicking intensity. This was all incredibly sexy to me. And amazingly, sex appeal is important to a young 20 something year old male. With the growing list of young rockstar entrepreneurs spread around, the attention has turned to being sexy by starting a company. And think about the ego rush of a young person hiring someone older than them. Damn! And the king of them all Zucks is getting a freaking movie made about him!
Entrepreneurs south of 30 will always be a minority in comparison to those who spend time as academics or research experts, those who get corporate gigs, and those who just want to spend their time surfing. Everyone’s different, everyone’s passionate about different things, and I fully respect that. But there’s no doubt in my mind that this generational group of entrepreneurs has been growing over the last 10 years, and will grow at an even quicker rate in the next 10 years. Make no mistake, I am not qualifying necessarily massive hits from young entrepreneurs, only that more young people are founding companies or getting involved in startups. What this really stresses is that there’s an amazing opportunity for schools, government and the investment community to seriously change the impact young people have the future of the world, and it’s amazing how large an impact small tweaks can have.
Presenting to a public audience rule 101, know who they are. That doesn’t change with the internet. I know who my community is in the physical plane, those in Boston who share common interests, are like-minded in philosophy, intersect in areas of expertise. The web, and this blog, allows my community to not be limited to my physical geography. And it helps articulate my thoughts perhaps more thoroughly than 140 characters.
Most of my musings will be related to my core areas of interest; i) understanding Gen Y dynamics, ii) venture creation, and iii) networking with unreasonable people. It will be a candid perspective of what I see going on with the consumers of Blank Label, the startup I dedicate my life to, my exploration of what it means to be an entrepreneur especially at the early stages, and my interactions with various interesting people in my journeying, mostly in the active Boston tech, startup, VC arena.
It’s my firm belief that all three are undeniably linked, and mostly in relation to the increasing supply of student entrepreneurs entering the marketplace and looking for substantial meaning as a value system in life. As Gen Y starts to become more prominent in corporate America, we’re going to feel displaced and dissatisfied at what we do after the initial honeymoon period. We find the corporate world stuffy, uninspiring, and a far cry for the action-driven activities we were involved with at school. Although I’ve only experienced limited amounts of corporate industry, a quick read of my resume will highlight that I probably stayed there long enough to hate it. And turning to venture creation as an outlet for something more meaningful is becoming a popular choice.
The economy isn’t THE reason for it, rather acting more like a catalyst. Now I’m naive and irrational enough to think that a team of undergraduate students can build a high-potential company, but I’m not stupid enough to think I can do it without the help of others. This is where networking comes in. Something I’ve noticed, although slowly changing, is that not many undergraduate students are being confident and proactive on the Boston networking scene. This is unfortunate because Blank Label’s been able to benefit a lot, including Board Advisors and press.
I really want to use this as a medium to share my experiences and lessons learnt from all three areas of focus. Making unoriginal mistakes is a terrible shame, and I’m a big believer in this school of thought that knowledge is never wasted. I don’t know how many people will find this useful, but in any case what I do know is that this will be an honest, sometimes brutally so, perspective of one young Chinese Australian’s journey as an entrepreneur in Boston.
Viewing Entourage s5 ep5 Fore! whilst writing this blog.