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Can entrepreneurs do good?

My social life is a dismal affair. I work, and then retire to my abode where I work on small projects, and when possible spend some time with my understanding girlfriend. On the rare occasion I get out, I can be found looking for something dev related, or startup-ish. Tonight I found myself listening to Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit) speak at UF.  His talk was quick, but it reminded me of a question that rears its head when I attend these sort of events: can entrepreneurs do good?

The answer is yes, but it isn’t the norm, and it isn’t the express purpose of entrepreneurship today.

From my observations, the great bulk of entrepreneurs exist to create something that will quickly make their lives better(money, influence, power) but avoid thinking if what they are doing is good.

Good is not a flashy marketing term, but a word of substance in its simplicity. Good is not creating the next way for your dog to get a treat (by what I will  consider an ironically named company) or getting you coffee delivered in five minutes. These companies use words like convenience, comfort, and ease to describe their value. Doing good centers around providing tangible benefit to people, not fluffing their pillow.

Doing good is usually associated with altruism, with non-profits, and with kindhearted groups who find intrinsic value more compelling than capitalistic value. I contend, in our society where an entrepreneurs’ value is derived solely by their greed, an entrepreneur is not motivated to do good, and if they do it is accidental.

I hope to find that there are exceptions, but I have not found much. We are simply not motivated to do good. Rather, we find that monetary compensation is more valuable than the value that can be gained by positively affecting others or our surroundings. More specifically, I feel like the VC model does not allow for any thought beyond the short game(there is no thought put into how an entrepreneur and his product can do in a decade, only how quickly revenue can be generated so their investments can mature into profits).

Hopefully I can be proven wrong, and the creativity of entrepreneurs is not squandered on dog food and backpack coffee.

One thought on “Can entrepreneurs do good?”

  1. I like the way you think.
    In the hopes of giving you hope … I, an “entrepreneur” always consider how my product, services and the effort I put forth will benefit the our planet, and all of our fellow inhabitants. While it is necessary to achieve financial success (in order to sustain) with any business venture, for me profit is not the objective but rather a necessary byproduct. Looking at a goal from a holistic perspective and accounting for Karma helps. By recognizing that even though my product may not make me rich, but clearly contributes toward the well being of others, makes me feel whole, and comfortable with what I am doing. This has a great amount of value and probably also contributes to better health.

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