Lakshan Perera

Startups and Real Life

Yesterday I participated in the first Academic Symposium organized by our faculty. The topic for the day was Graduation, Entrepreneurship and Success. The panel, which was modereated by Peter D'Almeida (he is also an old Benedictine) included Dr.Sanjeeva Weerawarna, Wegapitiya (Laughs), Harsha Purasinghe (Microimage), Ramesh Shamuganathan (JKCS) and Mohammed Azmeez (Concept Nursery). The discussion raised some insightful and interesting thoughts on passion, ideas, startups and funding.

However, as many other startup related discussions, it paid very little attention on the social factors involved with running a startup. In my perspective it's the most challenging aspect, than how to build the product or how to raise funds.

They stressed on the point that you should only pay attention to your passion and work continuously to achieve success. Basically it should be your top priority. What does this means? You have to leave behind your family, spouse and friends to drive your goals. One day you may be in Fortune500 list, but can you be satisfied with your life after neglecting your near and dear ones? Can this way of life is happy and responsible?

From my little experiences what I see is if you are to solve real world problems you have to live in the real world. This is a point where most of the tech companies have gone wrong. For them the real world sucks (as in Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates commercial), but the truth is you cannot understand it only by logic, theories or research. If you are to understand the real world you have to live in there.

If you become detach from real world and be isolated to work, you are producing imaginary products. You are forced to believe world would embrace any stupid idea you throw at them. Tech blogs may call your idea a Paradigm Shift and VCs are ready to invest lucrative amounts of money. But unintentionally you're taking the world away from the reality. You should not be surprised if someone thinks he is safe from peak oil and food crisis because he has enough oil wells and fields in Second Life. However, the reality is there are more basic problems in this world which never even caught the attention of this so called web 2.0 space. To find these problems you need not to go to other corner of the world. These needs are already within our everyday life.

So don't let startup fantasies to ruin your real life.