Hi! If you can read this, you are in the 30% of the world population who has access to the internet. While we can expect that figure to grow, it still ranks you in the lucky tier. And the downside is that the internet is a comfortable place.
In first-world countries, it’s easy to follow the path most travelled: spend 5 to 8 years working hard for studies, trying to score a job at a big company. Racking up a yearly 60 to 150K EUR. An apartment, public transportation, or a car, and so on.
If that’s the life you are looking for, nobody can blame you. However, if you want to follow your own dreams, build an idea from the ground up out of thin air, my impressions is that the resources are scarce in the neighborhood.
Existing structures seem to misunderstand the basic needs of entrepreneurs, throwing out impressive budgets in a misguided attempt to cultivate an infertile ground.
But it is no longer time to complain. How many students are thinking about dropping out daily? How many don’t want to wait another three years to give their product or service idea a try?
I used to think that the mass of raw information forced upon innocents at universities had a point: to prepare us for a future in which we would be able to quickly make informed decisions regarding crucial matters.
As it turns out, I am having more and more doubts about this. The formation of an engineer prepares him or her to be a specialized gear in a well-oiled mechanism bigger than him and in which he will always have a limited impact.
This explains why critical thinking is not taught in institutes of Technology. No ethics, no history, almost no philosophy. In other words: no material to understand the impact of one’s actions in the grander scheme of things.
I believe that every engineer should be a thinking engineer: even the lowest minion in an organization should have a minimal understanding of how his work contributes to a greater vision. Otherwise, what is the point of working. And more importantly: how can we avoid dangerous slopes, if nobody knows what they are working for?
If engineers are doomed to be tools, and litterary students future teachers or writers read only by the upper-class, then we are left with perhaps the most insufferable category of people in higher education: MBAs. Combined with a lack of technical knowledge, this kind of profit-oriented formation can probably explain a greater part of the dehumanization of corporations as they grow.
I think we need a new generation of engaged thinkers. Not stuck in ivory towers, isolated from the real world consequences of their ideas, but on the battleground, fighting to make their place, to disrupt corrupt industries, to beat down the competition by proposing a new quality standard, regardless of short-term profits.
And, to a great extent, I think that generation is among us, stuck in dead-end jobs, in unending study programs, held back by fear and by their immediate surroundings, craving to find like-minded people to explore new directions with.
Any amount of change takes a huge deal of energy and will to achieve. From painting a wall, to starting to exercise regularly, to breaking up from an unhealthy relationship. Dropping out or quitting your job is in the top 5 of “things most people will advise you against”.
But what does it matter? Most people don’t change the world. Most people don’t understand what successful businesses are made of. Most people are stuck in a consumer lifestyle, where all they can do is lie a thousand steps behind, sucking the last drops out of what was new ten years ago.
I think schools are full of brilliant people who are just waiting for a kick to start building great things. I think they need time, a place, money, but most of all they need support: intellectual support (to be able to try your ideas against other minds), moral support (to fight against depressive tendencies - a common trait among innovators), financial support, legal advice, etc. etc.
This is why I have created the bootstrap.
The bootstrap is a support net for self-driven people in Switzerland. It started out of a discussion around beers between a group of people, in the aftermath of Startup Week-end Lausanne.
Every time you meet up with dynamic people, it encourages you to take a few steps further. If I didn’t have a core group of friends who believe in me and support me, I wouldn’t have spent 16 hours hacking together a website to further our informal meetings.
In the long term, I would like to be able to provide other forms of support besides intellectual and moral: with time and by involving the right people, I hope to set up a space for those people to hang out, but also sit down and build their ideas into real-world products and services.
All these material commodities will be welcome whenever they arrive, but in the meantime, the first most important step is this: to convince a certain type of people that they can either work their whole life to get a high score at a game they can’t win, or to knock over expectations and create their own game, play by their own rules.
The revolution will not come from the streets with noisy slogans and flashy parades. Destroying alone will not be enough: the ones who will truly rule the world of tomorrow are the one who choose to build it, step by step, with respect, consciousness, and dedication.
Hi! The world is yours.
Make what you want out of it, but put your heart into it.
thebootstrap is a volunteer operation looking to support people who want to take a proactive shot at life and entrepreneurship in Switzerland.
It is entirely free, respects your privacy, and runs free software.