Last week, I posted a piece about advancements in education in the US, based on a discussion I had with technology expert, Idit Harel; one of the most thrilling threads of the conversation for me was the impact of entrepreneurial innovations. According to Harel, we currently have to prepare elementary school children for jobs that don't even exist yet, because they haven't been invented.
The way entrepreneurs have created technologies over the last few years in particular has been explosive, literally paving the way for future innovators. Consider the way that marketplace platforms are a relatively new business model and yet, they've become the new norm, igniting new businesses across numerous industries. And if the last ten years has moved quickly, just think about what the next decade will bring.
By 2020, Millennials will make up more than one in three of the adult population in the US and by 2025, about 75 percent of the workforce. Which, according to Shane White, Director of Millennial 20/20, bodes well for furthering innovation. "Millennials do not question innovation, but instead embrace and look to improve it," he explains.
"It comes down to a no fear attitude that is linked to the surroundings, community and society that Millennials have been born into. Growing up using mobile phones or the internet instills a sense to accept new technology. To welcome innovation or change as the norm -- using it to cut corners, save time or penny pinch, is a no brainer. However, when compared to older generations that have grown up with minimal access to media and a stronger sense of tradition, it creates a sense of risk and uncertainty when innovation enters day to day life."
And if that's Generation Y... let's think about Generation Z, the post-Millennial generation who really never knew a word without technology. Some of them are even becoming tech CEOs as preteens, such as William LeGate, founder of Ponder, who began developing apps at the age of 13, and Ritesh Agarwal, who created India's largest network of branded hotels, Oyo Rooms, at 16.
It's an exciting and creative time in our history indeed. In fact, innovations are moving so fast that new laws need to be created to support them.
I recently sat down with Congressman, David Schweikert, who is kind of a technology junky and particularly passionate about Fintech; so much so, that he redesigned his office to accommodate bigger ideas. "We split our office in half and called half of them the "Idea Shop," whose jobs were to research, talk to smart people around the country in Fintech, and then figure out where these new technologies would fit into policy innovations."
With every impactful creation an entrepreneur dreams up, Congress naturally has to decide what the laws surrounding it are. For example, the rise of Fintech in the startup world has come an array of new variables, such as answering the question, is an electronic signature legally binding? Every time we create something new, laws have to be made in response. Which begs the question - how can entrepreneurs and Congress work together to make the process more efficient?
"Entrepreneurs need to think creatively about how they use their solutions, so they can help us do our jobs in policy much better," explains the Congressman. This often means being able to act quickly to solve new challenges that arise.
Case in point. The Veteran's Administration experienced a crisis last year due to the fact that any staff member could manipulate their scheduling system. Certain members of staff were altering the calendar, so they could receive their bonuses earlier. In response to this, the DA spent millions of dollars on a new system. Congress found this ridiculous and, as a solution to the fraud, enabled a Blockchain technology, in which everyone could see who touched or manipulated the calendar. Rather than having technology thrust upon them, Congress was able to make an educated decision about the solution that would work for them.
Clearly, innovation is no longer one-directional when it comes to law-making. Tech entrepreneurs and Congress can collaborate together to encourage greater efficiently and pass better laws. How? By realizing that no entrepreneur or small business works in isolation is a good starting point. When startups spring onto the scene, they need to consider the bigger picture and how their technology may affect existing legislation - or call for new laws to be made.
Entrepreneurs are literally obsessed with innovation and given the fact that we have this tremendous brainstorm conversation constantly happening across the startup world, we can literally come up with new ideas all day. The trick is to be most efficient with them.
"Innovation is more than new products or tech, it's also about how you use and leverage that new technology or product to help you to become more useful and better connected," says Aynsley Damery, CEO of Taxgo, a new Fintech that has systemized accounts and tax preparation to make it more affordable to solopreneurs and small business owners. "It's also important to look outside your own industry or sector to see how others are innovating, and then looking at how you can take that back and make it work for you."
Ashish Toshniwal, CEO of Y Media Labs echoes this sentiment. "Fintech advancements have already impacted our current government regulations about how large enterprises do business. This trend will continue to grow, and every sector will be affected. Closer integration will allow both parties to encourage responsible innovation that provides fair access to financial regulator services and fair treatment of consumers. Without close involvement between Congress and Fintech, we increase the chances of implementing technologies that are high-risk endeavors."
If we want to avoid potentially harmful situations and protect the privacy of consumers, regulators should help to foster innovation, while ensuring that adequate safety measures are put in place. When we collaborate better, we can build great things together. Harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurial brilliance will carve out a clear path for a future that's more creatively impactful than we can imagine.