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On The Beauty Of Mundane And Overlooked

When thinking outside the box becomes too mainstream, thinking within the box is almost an act of extreme courage.

This is the case with our time. Particularly, if you look at the startup space. Everyone one wants to disrupt something. Innovate. Bring forth something groundbreaking into the world. Change an industry. A country. The world. Thus almost everyone falls into the same predictable trap. Build yet another ecommerce startup with a slightly different model. Launch yet another ride-hailing company. Bring that model that succeeded in India and contextualize it in Bangladesh. This is not to say that ecommerce or ride-hailing is not good business or not something worth building. There are many interesting and important things to be built in the most saturated of places.

But this is not how you build the future. Not even a hugely successful company. This is not how you go from zero to one. Peter Thiel, the successful entrepreneur, and venture capitalist, agrees. In his widely read book Zero to One, he proclaims:

“The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.

Of course, it’s easier to copy a model than to make something new. Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange.”

Go for mundane and overlooked instead

We recently published an interview with a Dhaka-based entrepreneur who is building a new generation catering service. The company, called Alpha Catering, is founded by two graduates of IBA, Dhaka University. The company has experienced tremendous growth in the past two years and is now looking to expand into more areas. Catering is something most people would not see as something hugely potential space to start a business, particularly in a time when almost all of us is looking for the next big thing.

One of the best approaches to finding solid startup ideas is looking into things that are mundane and overlooked. That almost nobody is taking seriously. Often treasures are hidden in the most unexpected of places.

Photo courtesy: Photo by Khara Woods on Unsplash

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Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based writer, researcher, and entrepreneur. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and the author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about entrepreneurship, business, strategy, technology, and culture. He can be reached at [email protected]

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