Why I Wrote Startup Rising
Marc Andreessen in the forward of this book notes that within a decade, there will be over 5 billion smartphones on the planet. These are not merely "phones" or "entertainment" devices -- though they are that. These are, more importantly, super computer capacity in the hands of two-thirds of humanity. We are only in the earliest days of understanding what that can mean in bottom-up problem solving.
I am convinced what I am seeing in startups in the Middle East is an early lens to this potential.
I dedicated a year of my life to exploring the strengths and limitations of the rising entrepreneurial ecosystems of the region, and to shining light on a few of the thousands of young entrepreneurs. They are all not only innovating local, regional, and global enterprises, but they are also working to solve some of their long-ignored social and infrastructural challenges. I wanted to better understand the surprising power of women and the role of religion among these entrepreneurs. And I wanted to learn more about why many global technology juggernauts are doubling down in the region during this time of uncertainty.
I hope that this book encourages others to take a deeper look at this historic regional change and in turn provide the “a-ha!” moments. I offer no crystal balls here but, rather, hope only to challenge the traditional narrative of the Middle East in light of substantial and swiftly growing access to rapid technological change.
To seek precedence and parallels in the past is safe, easy, and comfortable. But it is also what led some of the greatest minds to predict the strength of Mubarak's position just weeks before he fell. As the great automotive visionary, Henry Ford, is said to have noted, “Had I listened to the market at the time, I would have built a faster horse.”
Perhaps more appropriately, I have often thought of a quote in a different context from a more recent visionary and descendent of Syrian immigrants, Steve Jobs: “And no, we don't know where it will lead. We just know there's something much bigger than any of us here.”