Kjartan Rist Comment: “Why startups need activist VC partners more than ever”
In recent months there’s been a lot of commentary portraying entrepreneurs as the saviours of the global economy, while at the same time questioning the venture capital industry’s ability to deliver the right solutions to meet society’s most urgent challenges.
In many ways it’s true that there’s never been a better time to start a company. Tech is now horizontal and transformational technologies are all maturing at the same time. Some business models – such as physical branch banking/insurance – look set to go the way of the dinosaur, while others have had to undergo digital transformation almost overnight, for example education services and non-urgent healthcare. Indeed, some businesses are even questioning the value of the physical office workplace itself given that millions of workers have had to adapt to working from home and embrace collaboration and team-working technologies to keep up their productivity. The direction of many industries will be forever shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, problem-solving is a key driver of innovation and the current crisis has given us urgent new problems to solve. The bigger the problem, the more likely it is to blow up inertia and accelerate the pace of innovation. A crisis stress-tested society gives us an unblemished view of where the real problems lie, and thus, where the biggest opportunities are likely to be found on the other side.