The Rise Of The Lockdown Entrepreneur
A new type of entrepreneur is coming. Shaped by the pandemic lockdowns, ex-9-to-5ers are being paid to turn their hobby and side gigs into something bigger. This article looks at the confluence of factors that are giving birth to the Lockdown-Entrepreneur. Follow me for further updates on this topic.
Sign up to receive more moments like this
Necessity, The Mother Of Invention
The passed few years have seen the gig-economy explode.
Whilst there is a significant number of old-hand freelancers and contractors (myself included), the availability of platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and to some extent Etsy and ArtFire have made it easy for people to find ways to monetise their hobbies.
These platforms flourished in the aftermath of last global crunch in 2008, where millions of people's livelihoods were suddenly shaken up. They were not alone, during that last societal shift, other names made their meteoric rise to the household brands they are today, companies like Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo.
As people found themselves catapulted into a world of uncertainty and chaos, many found new, creative ways to put bread on the table, and in a post-COVID world I expect we'll see something similar.
A Perfect Storm
As the world collectively closed down shops, travel, entertainment, offices and social lives, different countries explored different ways to delay economic catastrophe. In the UK the Government deployed a scheme that enabled employers to retain staff, with a reduced financial burden. This scheme, known as furloughing, was intended to support employees and the self-employed financially, while they were told to stay at home and self-isolate (but don't get me started on companies like mine that fell between all the gaps. I'll leave that to #ForgottenLTD).
The oddly unique thing about the furlough scheme is that employees were sent home with a (reduced) pay check, yet forbidden to conduct any work for their employer in their role. So, as days turned into weeks, the novelty of being paid to do nothing rapidly wore off, and the on-line training and self-improvement market boomed.
People realised that this was the perfect time to develop their hobby or side-gig into something a little more, Lidl even started selling trumpets and drum kits as people explored their inner-musician.
Costing billions every week, the scheme simply could never be a long term solution, so even though the Government extended it, many realised that when furloughing came to an end, so might their jobs.
Current estimates suggest the UK's unemployment rate will double in the coming months from 4% to 8%, but the more worrying forecast is that this could rapidly grow to 20%, or 8 million people.
With the confluence of these factors, tomorrow's Airbnbs, Ubers and Etsys are being passionately crafted around dining tables or at cramped desks in the spare room. Ex-9-to-5ers are firing up their inner-entrepreneur, and are busy building their prototypes, fiddling with their business models and attending as many on-line networking events as they can whilst their furlough package keeps the bills paid and the roof over their head.
As I've been speaking with people over the last couple of weeks, there is a growing 'hum' of activity as the Lockdown-Entrepreneurs begin to raise their heads from their desks, and look for the right time, and the right partners to help bring their innovations to life.
Mixing A New Reality
Today's lockdown-entrepreneur has many more tools available to them than their 2008 ancestors, some of the technologies that have become much more accessible include technologies in the theme I call Game Changers - Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, and VR/AR, amongst others.
Personally, I'm very excited to see how Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies develop to fill the gap created by a reluctance to travel and the human need to explore and connect with people and places.
In a recent podcast, Peter Diamandis talked about how technology will continue its course for global domination, yet there will be a growing focus on local community. In this article, I spoke to one business that had taken a simple but effective approach to digitising their local community. I expect to see more like this, along with more accessible, more immersive events, remote networking and virtual travel experiences.
One day, in the not too distant future we will look back at the flat experience of a Zoom call and Google Earth's "adventures" in the same way we look at cheques, phones with curly cables and C90s.
More to come
I'll be looking to cover some of these emerging technology ventures on this website as they break out of their current stealth and start wanting to attract investors and users. If these could be of interest to you, sign up to my newsletter to make sure you don't miss out.
Sign up to receive more moments like this
Tell me what you think
What do you think? Where do you think this is going? Share your thoughts, and leave a comment below.
Are you a lockdown-entrepreneur? I'd love to know more about what you're working on, please do get in touch.
If you are an investor looking to find tomorrow's post-lockdown tech startup do get in touch, we might be able to help each other.