Opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation in the post-Covid era
Albert Einstein once famously said: "‘In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity." And we remain in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been horrible, affecting everyone's daily lives, relationships and work and has taken the lives of millions of people around the world. But as we see a light at the end of the tunnel, we know that life must go on and humanity has to keep progressing.
What we’re proposing today is to speak about opportunities, specifically for entrepreneurship and innovation. The pandemic has exposed cracks across society, making them clearer than ever before. It's also shown the critical role of technology to help us adapt to dramatic circumstances. It has put the world in a state of flux, opened people's minds to new ways of doing things and highlighted what is most important in life. Entrepreneurs and innovators should seize this opportunity, presenting new ideas and projects to improve people's lives.
The more we learn about the complexity of the human body, the more understandable it is that breakthroughs are hard to come by. To many, it still seems that advances in medicine are still going too slowly. Reading the book La Vida en Cuatro Letras by Spanish biochemist Carlos López Otín, we can reflect on the fact that diseases could be much worse. At any moment in our lives, there are millions of ways that our bodies can fail us. Fortunately, evolution has made our bodies able to fight off most attacks. The problem is when a system breaks down, diseases emerge and medicine cannot fully get our bodies back to normal. But it is precisely this complexity that keeps our system robust and failing so infrequently.
We are learning more and more about how human bodies work. We’ve discovered that we have neurons in our intestines and that our mental health can depend on what’s going on in our guts. With such surprising conclusions, it’s easy to understand why we’ve taken so long to understand or treat certain diseases. It wasn’t long ago that the intestine was thought of only for its digestive properties and people could hardly imagine their roles in our immunity, hormones or neurotransmitters.
This new knowledge about our bodies has opened the door to new possibilities. Besides treatments, prevention and diagnostics, there is enormous potential in innovating to help get all of this new information to people like doctors and nurses. The quantity of information is mind-boggling and, with science shifting so rapidly, it’s important to stay up-to-date. That’s why using technology to improve access to potentially life-saving information is an interesting opportunity. These health information services could be directed to companies, professionals and even individuals. For example, during the pandemic, talk about mental health increased significantly. At the same time, we became more aware of the increase in neurodegenerative diseases. So far, there haven’t been any major breakthroughs around curing either of those issues. But there is a growing body of information about how to prevent them. But how many of us are getting accurate and up-to-date information about either of those topics? Society would benefit greatly from more entrepreneurs working to find better ways to spread helpful health information.
Another sector that saw itself turned upside down by the pandemic was education. For months, schools stopped completely in many countries, even though the technology existed to keep it going virtually. Now, we’ve gotten more used to virtual learning, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The pandemic made us aware that we can’t just stick to one static model, whether that’s in education or other activities. Flexibility is fundamental. Education systems, teachers and students should also develop this ability to adapt.
We’ve also realized that the traditional education model has become obsolete when it comes to responding to the challenges of today’s market. Jobs are increasingly dynamic and uncertainty is growing. No one can be sure that going to school and studying hard will lead to a well-paid job in the end.
Now, more than ever, students need professional guidance that helps them make the most of their time studying and making better decisions. This is an opportunity. As it stands, there are few initiatives for professional guidance, both for students and professionals who want to change careers.
Here, it’s also important for anyone who is dedicated to professional guidance to have a deep understanding of the reality of the market. Bad advice could be worse than no advice at all. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial for this role to be filled with people who have a strong knowledge of what the market and companies need. It will also help optimize gaps between supply and demand. Around the world, for example, there is a lack of people skilled in the tech sector while there are also significant levels of unemployment and underemployment.
The coronavirus has made us more aware of just how vulnerable we are. It’s also made us confront some of the big problems that we are set to face in the future. Climate change has become more real to us, as have pollution, biodiversity and other factors related to keeping the natural world in balance.
We’ve seen a huge uptick of interest in sustainability both in the general public and businesses. With this in mind, we’re certain that a huge number of possibilities will emerge to develop technological solutions to improve the environmental situation. That’s another huge opportunity.
We’ve already seen many initiatives in terms of green energy or electric vehicles. However, there are few initiatives that approach this problem from other angles, like substituting materials that pollute the environment.
Building digital communities
Another consequence of the pandemic is that the structure of society has been reorganized due to lockdowns and social distancing. Without as much dependence on in-person interactions, everything to do with virtual and online communication has increased. We can see that in remote work and the mass exodus from cities toward more relaxed rural areas.
At the root of all of this, it makes sense to think that everyone who previously shared physical spaces with others is still seeking this same closeness virtually. It’s not just through video calls, but also other virtual platforms where you can communicate or interact, whether that’s through video, photos, voice, games, voice or text. In a way, it’s about segmenting even deeper the activity that we’ve been seeing on social media, organizing those huge communities into more concrete groups of people. This would help people interact more comfortably and in a more personalized way.
These types of communities tend to start with a content channel like a blog, podcast or newsletter. From there, the community organizes new ways to connect between members so they can share related ideas, content or even do shared activities of common interest. Now, the challenge is to build these spaces for interaction beyond content channels. Tools like Slack, Discord and Teams already exist. But what matters is creating spaces and frameworks so people can participate in a way that enriches the lives of everyone in the community.
Decentralized business models
In line with the previous point, physical dislocation and new technologies open up the possibilities for a new level of decentralization. Blockchain is particularly interesting here. Once a large part of our activity becomes virtual, it empowers a huge range of new businesses and ways of working. This decentralization can be seen in concepts like identity, property registration and intellectual property.
Time to talk about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, the development of decentralized digital applications, smart contracts, utility tokens, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and even autonomous decentralized organizations. New digital tools exist that are waiting to be used by entrepreneurs and innovators to develop new business models. Think of decentralized finance (DeFi) for example.
Since this technology is very new and advanced, it could produce a gap between those who understand it and those who don’t. Therefore, besides the opportunities to create decentralized businesses using blockchain tools, there’s a huge opportunity to offer related consulting and training services. This technology isn’t simple and people will need help…
Here, we’ve highlighted a few of the activities and sectors where we see massive opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators. Of course, there will be many more. What matters is being aware of the opportunities being generated by technology, people’s needs and market trends. You can count on us to keep you up-to-date and continue sharing what we learn and our vision for the future.