As we hurl through the last quarter of 2017, the pace of change is picking up. Who better to weigh on the trends creating real innovation than some of the disrupters themselves? These bold perspectives help you spot some of the silent, just-beneath-the-surface trends creating opportunities today. Each has a link to the article or post behind the quote so you can dig deeper.

Interplanetary travel

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, chatting yesterday on the Mars mission at Reddit, as reported by Teslarati:

"Our goal is to get you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for propellant production and survival is in place. A rough analogy is that we are trying to build the equivalent of the transcontinental railway." Millions of people and tons of businesses would need to be recruited to make Mars a reality, he noted.

Gig economy / freelance economy

CEO Cynthia Rowley on fewer employees and faster business:

"We have about 50 employees, but we make hundreds of millions of dollars of product every year," Rowley recently told Inc.'s Kimberly Weisul. "It's not about how many employees you have. It's about how few employees you have; it's really how few employees can you have and still be able to create what we create. We don't need a lot of people. We need to be nimble is what we need."

Transparency as a business driver 

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, tweeting last week on a hot thread:

We need to be a lot more transparent in our actions in order to build trust. https://t.co/7T6aliOXmG

-- jack (@jack) October 12, 2017

New exits for startups

David Cummings, Atlanta entrepreneur who built 6 startups to over a million in revenue before 35, writing on his blog:

Several years ago if you were to ask me about SaaS startups and their likely acquirers, I would have rattled off the usual suspects: big software companies that want to get in the space, non software companies that recognize software is eating the world, and the occasional out-of-left-field company that's making a move.

Nowhere on that list is private equity. Now, when people ask who a likely acquirer is for so-and-so startup, private equity is the first thought.

Sharing economy comes home with AirBnB/Niido partnership

Harvey Hernandez, Founder/CEO of Niido, speaking to Michael Yorba of CEO Money last week:

"Live a life worth sharing," promotes Niido, a new rental complex in Orlando that's the first to partner with AirBnB on subleasing units when tenants are away. Harvey Hernandez, developer and founder of Niido, says, "18 to 20 months ago we came up with a cool idea--the idea was to create rental communities where we provide our tenants with the ability to do homesharing, so they mitigate the costs of living today. We took the idea to AirBnB at that time, and they loved the idea, and here we are almost ready to open the first one in a few months."

Tech automation in the built-from-scratch, high end community makes it a snap for renters to turn their homes into income.

Code building code

"In a project called AutoML, Google's researchers have taught machine-learning software to build machine-learning software. In some instances, what it comes up with is more powerful and efficient than the best systems the researchers themselves can design." 

Code building what it means to be human

Tim Urban, writing on WaitButWhy about Elon Musk's Neuralink:

"Six weeks after first learning about the company, I'm convinced that it somehow manages to eclipse Tesla and SpaceX in both the boldness of its engineering undertaking and the grandeur of its mission. The other two companies aim to redefine what future humans will do--Neuralink wants to redefine what future humans will be."

Best business financing: equity

Stanford graduate lecturer Maxwell Wessell,  investor in NextGen Venture Partners, writing in Harvard Business Review:

"In today's world the most pointed disruptive threats look different. They are not asset-heavy. They are asset-light. And while that may seem appealing to unsavvy onlookers, it can be the kiss of death for a CEO facing disruptive entrants. Why? Asset-light businesses are not financed with debt. They're financed with equity--in other words, a stake in the company. That's a resource that is much less expensive for new businesses with no track record than for established businesses with all the credibility in the world."

Most stabilizing disruption: diversity

Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest founder and Wall Street insider, speaking to Patricia Garcia at Vogue:

"I will scandalize you by saying the financial crisis was caused in good part because there were too many people who were the same as each other running the industry--too many middle-aged white guys who all went to Ivy Leagues .

"People think they were evil geniuses who were greedy, but that's not what I saw. I actually saw people who didn't know the crisis was coming--it caused the economy to implode . . . What breaks groupthink? The only thing that breaks it is diversity."

Published on: Oct 17, 2017