In her article “The Unexotic Underclass“ on Entrepreneurship Review, author C.Z. Nnaemeka delivers a series of bolds statements but probably none bolder than this one…
“There’s nothing wrong with the entrepreneurship-as-salvation gospel. Nothing wrong with teaching more people to code. But it’s impractical in the short term, and misses the greater point in the long term: We shouldn’t live in a universe of solipsistic startups… where I start a company and produce things only for myself and for people who resemble me.”
It’s hard to argue that she doesn’t have a point. Take a look, for instance, at the web ventures that seem to get the most traction these days. They all seem to be focused on a singular demographic, one that is younger, more affluent, lives in urban areas, and is interested in food, fashion, and remaining “social.”
What about the rest of the country, or what is commonly referred to as “Middle America,” Nnaemeka argues. Why aren’t we developing apps for single mothers or for the myriad veterans who have to wait for benefits from a system that is overburdened and stuck in the past with its antiquated records system? Why do we instead create another dating app or restaurant app when there is clearly a need for good ideas elsewhere?
Nnaemeka refers to the technologically underserved as the "unexotic underclass". She insists we have a responsibility to care, but that it's also in our best interest:
“You should care because the unexotic underclass can help address one of the biggest inefficiencies plaguing the startup scene right now: the flood of (ostensibly) smart, ambitious young people desperate to be entrepreneurs; and the embarrassingly idea-starved landscape where too many smart people are chasing too many dumb ideas.”
The success of that startup scene is predicated on innovators in their respective fields having ideas that are actually worthwhile. There are only so many cute but shallow apps that we can sustain. We refer to you back to one of our favorite TED Talks, Jason Pontin's "Can Technology Solve Our Big Problems?"
Not to mention, as spiritual people, we should look to help and better the lives of all people -- and if we can do so by harnessing our entrepreneurial leanings, this seems like a win-win.
If you’ve had the chance to read it, what do you think of C.Z. Nnaemeka’s article, “The Unexotic Underclass”? Should we do more in relation to this part of the American population, both from an entrepreneurial and spiritual perspective?