MILLENNIALS UNFILTERED
EPISODE 2

I think the first issue that comes with understanding what “entrepreneurship” means to a man on the street is how the answer differs when you ask a millennial what “entrepreneurship” entails, as compared to when you ask a baby boomer or a member of Gen X.

For millennials, we were born into a world of exciting, meteoric businesses, created with instant global reach through the internet and the publicity that came with globalisation. We’ve seen young start-up owners, the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy become overnight billionaires from as young as 23. So the narrative, or rhetoric when it comes to starting a business as commonly discussed between millennials takes into account these young superstars. When you think of what it means to be a successful “young entrepreneur” you think of a celebrated young personality from college, in their 20s, MAYBE 30s, and that’s basically it.

And the overall millennial mentality arising from this exposure to mainstream media, say movies like “the Social Network” along with news and publications surrounding these young billionaires, has sort of created this image, that “This” is the look. This is what young successful founders act like, look like, and is something I like to call the “Silicon Valley” fantasy.

And when you extrapolate this to how millennials view business ideas in general.. you get extremely warped perceptions of what “success” means to them in terms of being a young entrepreneur. Unless your business idea can sort of almost “guarantee” overnight success (and this bleeds into how we’re also a generation ever so hungry for short term gratification), we’re talking here about success maybe in the span of months, maybe just a year, both me and my friends who are entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs observe that we tend to receive a lot more criticism than support.

Because in the eyes of most millennials, the idea that a business does not turn a profit in a short span of time, that you’re not a millionaire by 30, that there is some chance that it struggles and flails for months, years on end before it sees light at the end of the tunnel is a foreign, alien concept. It is simply not the image of a successful “Young Entrepreneur” that they’ve grown to learn and respect. And because aspiring entrepreneurs and start- up owners are scrutinized under this warped lens, tainted by ideas of unprecedented riches and revolutionising how the world works, they necessarily “pale in comparison” to the standard set for glorified, dignified “Young Entrepreneurs” and their ideas are often dismissed by their family, peers, and compatriots as “too risky” or that they will simply never work.

But if you step into and interact with aspiring start-up owners or start-up owners themselves in spaces where you find them in spades, for instance in incubator schemes, accelerators, start-up competitions, or maybe even

visit a handful of them in their offices, this is quite far from the truth. Sure there could perhaps still be that minority of aspiring owners who fit the archetype and are trying to shoot for the moon and become overnight billionaires but these are still few and far between. It is rarely a “go big or go home” type of scenario, and more often people who work on a certain idea they believe in consistently, taking time to hammer away, creating or adjusting a business plan that eventually becomes sustainable enough to become their day job if it isn’t already. They take their failures and mistakes in their stride, some better than others, and seek to mould their business “solution” into its most optimal form. It is for the same reason that being an entrepreneur can sometimes be a rather lonely endeavour, you think about your business day and night, and I’ve come to know some entrepreneurs who talk about nothing but their business even when they go out with their friends. The reason that the life of a common entrepreneur doesn’t get as much attention is simply because it isn’t the exciting, spicy story people, and in particular the media, are looking for.

It is a culmination of all the above factors that kind of pushed me to start this podcast at all; in hopes of giving the millennial entrepreneur a more accurate, human, though less stylish coat of paint. To clarify myths and blatant untruths about choosing to walk down this path. And of course, dream of creating a community where like-minded millenialpreneurs can connect, share their story and a cup of coffee together.

My name is BC, and this is my podcast series on “Millennials Unfiltered”.