We have to stop building businesses, and start solving for scarcity. Our planet is running out of natural resources like titanium, silver and copper at an alarming rate. Antimony, a product used in many batteries, will be exhausted from known mines within 7 years. Meanwhile the global population continues to soar; we will reach 8 billion people by 2024, and 9 billion by 2040. Scarcity will become the global norm within the next decade, so entrepreneurs should build businesses that cope with scarcity.
There’s money in solving for scarcity. Zipcar, Spotify, and AirBNB (my three favorite web-enabled services of the past decade) have all proven that a) access is more important than ownership, b) people are willing to share resources, and c) founders of these companies can become extremely wealthy.
Most of us are doing the opposite. Instead helping humans thrive despite scarcity, most human enterprise is dedicated to accelerating scarcity. I’m constantly disappointed by fresh entrepreneurs who are building products for yesterday’s economy instead of for tomorrow’s reality.
I’ve written about products that will work in a darker version of the future here. But I think there’s also opportunity in building a brighter future: communal housing, schooling and child-raising; indoor, vertical, and underground farming; insects as a food source; 100% online advanced degrees and clinical research; consumer products that test the safety of our air, food and water.
Read fiction for more business ideas. Sci-fi is my go-to genre for inspiration about what the future will look like and what kinds of products we might expect. I heartily recommend the hilarious, heartwarming, and insightful book Super Sad True Love Story as one such example.