I attended the ICT4D Meetup in London (#ict4dmeetup) a couple of weeks ago, and listening to the very different – but extremely interesting – speakers, something occured to me.
There was a lot of talk of startups, working for free, searching for funders/investors, wanting to take technology global even if (for now) it is extremely small and local, and some very passionate, technologicallt savvy, and ever-so-slightly alternative (we were in Shoreditch after all) types around.
Basically, it reminded me a lot of the exact same scenarios I used to see in the 90s “dot com bubble” – small techy startups looking for venture capital, some succeeding, many failing,all with interesting ideas. Only this time the goal is social-change rather than personal wealth accumulation.
On the one hand, I think this is great – harnessing all that potential and skill for social purposes (glossing over my fairly strong personal caveats around the fact that most of the projects displayed an almost total lack of awareness of the importance of creating technological empowerment for the local communities in developing countries, difficult to do when the technology is all based in London!).
On the other hand, I think of the extremely high failure rates of dot-com businesses, and how hard it now is to get funding for technology startups – and it seems like it must be even harder to get funding, and then succeed, without the mythical pot of gold at the end…
Either way, it will be extremely interesting to watch some of these startups develop and expand (and hopefully see the people involved in the ones that don’t succeed, go on to learn from this and produce something even better in the future!)