John_Sutter_and_the_California_Gold_Rush

Welcome To The Modern Goldrush

We have a modern gold rush on our hands folks, the Belfast startup scene is exploding! These things work in cycles and I can only compare it to the 2009/2010 explosion of barcamps, bizcamps and open coffees. People getting together and attempting to make stuff happen. There’s gold in them there hills and if you listen to the right people and read the right tech sites and books then you have as a good a chance as any of making it.

Let’s roll back a second though. There’s been a lot of pedalling of the startup way, “anyone with an idea can make it”, and to be fair there are those who have. So entrepreneurs are the new gold prospectors and there be the problem….

1848–1855 – Who Made The Money?

The question is this, in the California Gold Rush who made the money? The guy who sold the shovel. The prospectors themselves made less than the folk who were supplying the services to the prospectors. After expenses prospectors made a modest profit but the people who sold (among other things): retail, shipping, entertainment, lodging, transportation, boarding houses, food preparation, sewing, laundry, saloons, brothels and gambling – they made the money.

The prospectors fuelled an entire business ecosystem and they all did very well out of it, well everyone apart from the prospectors, only a few actually “made it”.

2014 – Who’s Making The Money?

Look at things today, for the startup just entering we’ve got the likes of mobile app development, web design houses, graphic designers, lawyers, accountants, consultants, public relations, marketing companies, social media gurus and the rest of it. The modern day prospector is fuelling a an entire business ecosystem. And you know what that’s fine.

We attend prospector events with more prospectors and we trade our war stories over free beer and food. The only thing it can be compared to is a wake, it’s the only other time when free alcohol and food seem to attract volumes of numbers. A tip for you, if you know over 25% of the people in the room then don’t bother going. We’ll be invited to pay for weekends where distilled knowledge is passed to us regardless of who’s telling us have actually made a prospectors payback or not (let’s be honest, they probably haven’t).

The Realisation

The reality is stark reader: While I concentrate on Belfast as that’s where I live (sort of) it could apply to anywhere in the world that pushing the gold rush as a way to keep the minds of good busy. For some who were there before over the last two cycles we’ve become weary and know that the game’s up. The same mantra reworded doesn’t wash anymore.

The old American Dream … was the dream of the Puritans, of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard”… of men and women content to accumulate their modest fortunes a little at a time, year by year by year. The new dream was the dream of instant wealth, won in a twinkling by audacity and good luck.

Luck is where the balance of success and failure lies. You have to create your own luck.

 

 

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