A company that can block pain in the human body? A collaborative, machine learning platform to help farmers increase crop yields? How can you get in on this action?
November 9, 2018 6 min read
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The one thing entrepreneurs do better and at a higher frequency than anyone on Earth is disrupt. Whether their mission might be software and algorithmic creation, the streamlining of processes or the search for an easier and more convenient way to get from point A to point B in a crowded city, entrepreneurs lead the way.
And they have plenty to work with, because, today, there are many industries begging for disruption. These industries need a shakeup and entrepreneurs are the people to do it. In this regard, it's easy to go a dozen deep in naming industries, but here are the three industries which I find particularly well primed for entrepreneurs to radically change for the better
The digital health sphere is exploding. From virtual diagnosis, to AI creating more effective drugs, the possibilities are exponential. Investors are taking notice. According to Digital Commerce 360, investment in digital and mobile healthcare set a record in the third quarter at $3.8 billion. That is only one quarter: For the year to date, it's been $6.8 billion compared to $5.7 for all of 2017.
Startups around the globe are already throwing their knowledge and disruptive hats into the ring. Startups like Kaia App in Munich (which has created an app which studies have shown can reduce lower back pain by 40 percent). uAris Health in Redwood City, Calif., created a surgical robot that performs endoscopic procedures. BenevolentAI in London can claim a “data and technology-driven approach to drug development." And these are just a few of the companies making waves in this industry.
Regenerative medicine has the highest ceiling, as far as entrepreneurs having the ability to create and grow their revenue. People are living longer and want their quality of life to remain as high as possible and to extend their lives.
The Mayo Clinic recently received a $10 million grant, in part to study regeneration of the spine. But, where do entrepreneurs step in? Some already have, such as Prellis Biologics in San Francisco. It's created a holographic laser-printing technology that makes production of lab-grown human organs possible. Think about that: no more organ donations needed, ever! The benefit to the human race, and the money generated from production, could be astronomical.
The same could be said for the startup BlueRock, in Cambridge, Mass. That company's end goal is to replace dead cells with new ones that restore a human body's biological function back to what it was before the loss.
And it isn't just those seemingly huge ideas that entrepreneurs are coming up with. Look at Neuros in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Its goal is electrical nerve block. Through this path, the company says it will be able to treat such categories of chronic pain as post-amputation pain, post-surgical pain and even migraines. Push a button (in the future), and pain will be diminished -- or gone.
Drought, famine, flooding, severe weather, earthquakes and any other kind of natural or political disaster can disrupt food production anywhere in the world. As typically happens when disaster strikes, destitute and economically challenged populations suffer the most. How do entrepreneurs solve this worldwide problem? The answer is, they solve it the way they always have, by thinking ahead of -- and around -- conventional processes and norms.
That's where "synthetic agriculture" comes, in, meaning the use of science to shape natural systems and even ceate new ones.
Lack of food and nutrition, of course, is the largest challenge confronting an affected population after a disaster. But, leave it to our most innovative entrepreneurs to create new systems to combat and conquer this issue. Some startups are thinking proactive innovation, instead of reactive attempts at course correction.
Take Indigo, in Boston, to name one example. That company is focusing on creating seed treatments that optimize the health of a plant to increase its yield. The end goal is to bring naturally derived products to market that allow for crops to better withstand environmental stress.
This is similar to what Benson Hill Crop in St. Louis is doing. Its goal is to create a cognitive engine that provides decision support to accelerate crop improvement and enhance the sustainability of food, feed, fiber and fuel production. This in turn will empower the agricultural community through the use of tech to enhance viability, sustainability and potential advances for crops worldwide.
On the other side of the planet, in Gujarat, India, MyCrop Technologies is giving access to a collaborative platform that is using machine learning to provide real-time support for farmers. The company aims to use data, drones and other technology to help farmers make the decisions that will increase crop productivity.
So how do you, as an entrepreneur, capitalize?
First, you should start local. What are the areas of need in your community? Can you brainstorm solutions? Are there food deserts? If so, can you create a mobile grocery store supplying food and goods to those who lack easy access? Some 2.3 million Americans (2.2 percent of us) live more than a mile from a supermarket and don't have access to a vehicle. Add to that the fact that 12.3 percent of us live with food insecurity: Most entrepreneurs could see an opportunity here for innovation that creates positive social change while driving revenue.
Second, where do your expertise and passion intersect? Take the company Zipline in Silicon valley. This company puts the intersection of drones and health care on full display. Back in 2016 it launched an on-demand service with the government of Rwanda to deliver more than 50 different types of blood products (blood, plasma, and platelets) for immediate medical treatment.
Finally, follow the playbook. I’ve mentioned here more than half a dozen startups that are innovating, creating positive social change and driving revenue for themselves. So, why not reach out to these and other startups and forge connections? Learn from them by studying their moves, speaking with them and possibly even asking to observe and shadow the for a period of time.
What are disruptive companies like these doing to create and innovate that you can draw from for your own startup? See if you can travel to see them. Be present in the wholly new environments they make, and your innovative mind will be expanded exponentially.