Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
What kind of product do you need to pitch to raise a million dollars in funding? Apparently nowadays, an app solely dedicated to sending the message ‘Yo’ is enough. What the fuck? You’re thinking. Yeah. But wait, think about this, are you really in that much shock? I mean, we live in a time where society has embraced platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Is it really so shocking that an app that JUST sends the message ‘Yo’ got funded? Not anymore.
Investors simply can’t rely on their past criterion of practicality and usefulness in predicting the potential success of digital products anymore. Affordances provided by products that seem benign and trivial to the older crowd are embraced by the younger generation; in part due to the mindset of anarchy and a rebellion against traditional values that permeates the attitudes of teenagers and young adults. As a result, we gravitate towards novelty. Which means investors now invest into products based off of its novelty and its potential for going viral.
This obsession with novelty has both positive and negative implications. On one hand, we are more accepting and open to new ideas than ever before. Take for example the funding of the potato salad party on kickstarter. The guy was merely trying to raise $10.00 on kickstarter to make some potato salad, instead he ended up raising $55,000 in crowd funding…enough to host a potato salad party. The novelty lies in the request of a simple task on a platform known for crowdfunding more serious endeavors such as startups and humanitarian causes. And while the success of this request may seem absurd and outrageous, it goes to demonstrate the significant allure of novelty or ‘hipsterness’ to society currently. And it’s also pretty damn awesome that we live in day and age where people can come together to support quirky causes like the pursuit of potato salad.
However, novelty for the sake of novelty and the pursuit of virality is dangerous. By focusing so heavily on novelty, we blind ourselves to the value and potential within the tried and true. For example, if investors refuse to invest in a product that is a significant improvement over its competitors simply because it’s not innovative enough. Or the fact that yes, $55,000 could probably be put to better use for cancer research or feeding the homeless but we don’t support these causes as heavily because they’re not novel to us anymore. Money talks. Who or what we choose to invest in will determine the types of products and companies that enter the world. These products and corporations will then shape and influence the society we become. Let’s make sure we think about putting our money where our mouth is.