Why – and HOW- the unemployed are the best untapped resource in the Start-Up community.
HOPE FOR THE UNEMPLOYED
Getting fired sucks. There’s no delicate way to put it, and if you’re someone who’s recently been laid off (or a long-term “freelancer” – no judgements here), things can feel pretty bleak.
But as tough as losing your job is, it’s still an opportunity. You are still talented, resourceful, and useful, possessing valuable skills in the job market. And if you think this applies only to the bold, swaggering entrepreneur types, you’re wrong: the awesome truth is that anyone, ANYONE, can make a successful Start-Up.
RISE OF THE PHOENIX: FROM FIRED TO FIRED-UP START-UP FOUNDER
Just a few weeks ago, EXIT’s Mikkel Næsager witnessed real-life evidence of this. Mikkel was invited to Sweden to participate as a panel member and mentor to Start-Ups in SONY’s NextStep program (nextstepstartup.se), an event designed to capitalise on the talents on recently-unemployed tech professionals (namely, their own).
Check out our selected contenders below, along with our verdict on the future of these budding companies.
Ex. 1: KATAM (Winner of NextStep Program)
KATAM’s app allows the user to measure how much wood is in a forest. You simply point and scan an area of forest using a tablet or smartphone, and it measures length and diameter to calculate the potential lumber one can produce from that area.
WHY IT WORKS: There are an estimated 300,000 forest owners in the snowy, Nordic lands of Sweden, who are currently required by law to measure their forests every 4 years. At the moment, this is done using measuring sticks and balls of string. There is UNBELIEVABLE POTENTIAL in this massive, untapped market.
Ex. 2: IHC (Individual Hearing Compensation)
This impressive contender came up with the idea of turning mobile phones into makeshift hearing aids. Good healthcare is still difficult to access in developing countries, but a cellphone? Everyone’s got one of those. With their versatile software, IHC can turn anything with a microphone and a speaker into a cheap, effective and life-changing tool on any continent.
WHY IT WORKS: The market is huge – they estimate 800 million people suffer from hearing loss, and only 10% of those are getting help.
Ex. 3: Study Bee
Study Bee is a learning management system for Google Classroom, designed by a software engineer and his wife, who’s a teacher. It minimises administration for teachers so they can spend more time actually teaching, while reducing costs for educational organisations by up to 80%.
WHY IT WORKS: Now that Google Apps for Education has amassed more than 40 million teacher and students users (EdSurge, 2015), there is a serious need – and use! – for technology like this.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Ex. 1: Great idea… not so great need.
One company pitched the idea of a device that locates divers underwater. That way, if you’re in dark, deep, and scary waters, you can always find your fellow divers. Now, while this concept sounds great in theory, let’s do the rough math:
1. There are perhaps 10 million divers worldwide.
2. 90% are “paddy divers” (recreational and uncertified), so they wouldn’t be going into deep or dangerous waters to start with.
3. Of the 10% left, 70% of divers only dive in the tropics (lots of sunlight, shallower waters, good visibility).
4. You now have a 30% market left – 2000 or so divers left.
WHY IT DOESN’T WORK: For the money and resources required to build, sell and distribute this product, it’s too little of a profit margin to be worth the effort.
SO, WHAT’S THE POINT?
If you can read this blog, you’ve already got an advantage over the majority of the world. Chances are, you have some other pretty great skills to offer, too. Here at EXIT, we choose to see things not as they are, but as how they could be… just with a healthy dose of rationality, too. So if you’re looking to the Start-Up world for salvation, here’s what we suggest keeping in mind:
Is your target market large enough to support your future company, and earn you reasonable profits?
An engineer can build just about anything – but is it worth building?
So get out there! If you can’t find a job, make a job. With a little imagination, some logical thinking and flat-out courage, you can turn this tough situation into a fantastic outcome. The point is, there’s hope.