Give Society What It Doesn’t Know How to Get
Nivi: You’re not gonna get rich renting out your time. But you say that, “you will get rich by giving society what it wants, but does not yet know how to get at scale.”
Naval: That’s right. So, essentially as we talked about before, money is IOUs from society saying, “You did something good in the past. Now here’s something that we owe you for the future.” And so society will pay you for creating things that it wants.
But society doesn’t yet know how to create those things because if it did, they wouldn’t need you. They would already be stamped out big time.
Almost everything that’s in your house, in your workplace, and on the street used to be technology at one point in time. There was a time when oil was a technology, that made J.D. Rockefeller rich. There was a time when cars were technology, that made Henry Ford rich.
So, technology is just the set of things, as Alan Kay said, that don’t quite work yet [correction: Danny Hillis]. Once something works, it’s no longer technology. So, society always wants new things.
Figure out what product you can provide and then figure out how to scale it
And if you want to be wealthy, you want to figure out which one of those things you can provide for society, that it does not yet know how to get, but it will want, that’s natural to you, and within your skillset, within your capabilities.
And then you have to figure out how to scale it. Because if you just build one of it, that’s not enough. You’ve got to build thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, or billions of them. So, everybody can have one.
Steve Jobs, and his team of course figured out that society would want smartphones. A computer in their pocket that had all the phone capability times 100, and be easy to use. So, they figured out how to build that, and then they figured out how to scale it.
And they figured out how to get one into every First World citizen’s pocket, and eventually every Third World citizen too. And so because of that they’re handsomely rewarded, and Apple is the most valuable company in the world.
Nivi: The way I tried to put it was that the entrepreneur’s job is to try to bring the high end to the mass market.
Naval: It starts as high end. First it starts as an act of creativity. First you create it just because you want it. You want it, and you know how to build it, and you need it. And so you build it for yourself. Then you figure out how to get it to other people. And then for a little while rich people have it.
Like, for example rich people had chauffeurs, and then they had black town cars. And then Uber came along, and everyone’s private driver is available to everybody. And now you can even see Uber pools that are replacing shuttle buses because it’s more convenient. And then you get scooters, which are even further down market of that. So, you’re right. It’s about distributing what rich people used to have to everybody.
But the entrepreneur’s job starts even before that, which is creation. Entrepreneurship is essentially an act of creating something new from scratch. Predicting that society will want it, and then figuring out how to scale it, and get it to everybody in a profitable way, in a self-sustaining way.