One of my favorite (and more useful) startup-centric quotes is via William Gibson, the father of the science fiction sub-genre known, by fans and critics, as
cyberpunk — one of my favorite types of literature and reading, by the way.
But he’s been made a bit more famous in recent times with his quote about the future:
The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.
For me, my previous projects that have achieved some sort of modicum of success has been able to align with the essence of what Gibson is saying — that there are whispers, foretastes, and sneak-peeks of what the future will widely become because it’s already been built by a small group of folks; many of whom may not have much of a clue about what they’ve stumbled upon.
I think about the history of most of the major technological changes and advancements in historic and modern times; I think about how people, many who are still alive today, that eventually built entire industries but they started in their basement or garage and they shared their hobby with a small group of similarly-passionate creators.
When we were building The Iron Yard, a trailblazer in the EdTech space, we were lucky enough to discover a winning combination of modern technology and tooling with a physical, retail experience that combined high-quality, high-touch, highly-centralized (geographically-speaking) apprenticeship-like experience for customer while running a decentralized, global business operation with real-time and async communication platforms at the core.
At the time, 10 years ago, this wasn’t how most folks ran things, especially in education.
Now, in 2020, this is how everyone does things.
When we started YEN, we saw the future of not just computing but also how human interface, interact, and exchange value, trusting not in each other but in an algorithm. But the insight that drove us wasn’t the logic, it was how fundamental community was as part of the co-building, co-creation process.
A community-first approach became the only viable (and logical) operating system for new and nascent projects, startups, and businesses. But, for all of us to succeed, then, we’d also have to fundamentally transform our world into community-first, all-the-things. To do that we’d have to make community accessible everywhere, all the time, 24 / 7 / 365 and make it frictionless.
Consequently, the world that we see at YEN is one that is already here, but, it's not evenly distributed quite yet — a community-first one. It’s a world where we see community, everywhere. Practically speaking, it means that we can see a world where there’s a community on every website.
This is the new vision, mission, and business model of YEN — I’m so excited to have finally figured out this important, missing ingredient that will guide our decisions and solidify the very reason and purpose of why we exist.