When you hear the word “entrepreneurship,” what comes to mind? Scruffy college dropouts in grey T-shirts? Instagram influencers and Twitter opinion leaders? Crowdfunding campaigns for the next killer gadget? These are just a few of the hallmarks of the business world we know today, but they’re united by a common trait: ambitious people with passion and a plan to share it with the world. Traditionally, those plans demand a great deal of sacrifice, from the time and money spent on education to the loans taken out to cover startup expenses—to say nothing of the risks that go along with entering into crowded, fast-paced markets. That is as true today as ever before, but with the worldwide shift to a digital content economy full of creators, inventors, and trailblazers, it’s clear: everyone in our connected world is an entrepreneur, and deserves the opportunity to create, distribute and monetize the brilliant new work they make.
The problems with traditional business practices boil down to a series of bottlenecks. Anyone with experience with a brick-and-mortar business knows this well: you need a space to work, money to equip it, labor to staff it and exposure to help it grow. Of course, each of those steps has to go through a middleman (or several), each of whom takes their cut. The Web 2.0 economy is fundamentally no different. Want to build a following as a social media influencer? You’ve got to game the algorithm, play by the platform’s rules and always keep in mind: all of your content belongs to that site. What about a groundbreaking startup? You might be able to code the whole thing in your pajamas, but you’ll need to search out funding, build a board, and go through regulatory procedures with your local government, all of which take time and energy away from your creative work.
The tools that Web 3.0 brings to the table are already changing the game. Building business relationships based on smart contracts cut the time and cost spent on formalizing business relationships. DeFi tools, from well-known cryptocurrencies to markets for blockchain-based tools and apps, allow everyone from major banks to everyday consumers to take control over their investments and build toward their personal and professional goals. The meteoric rise of NFTs and social tokens has offered artists, developers, musicians, and influencers (among the infinite variety of creators in the world) the opportunity to ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve for their work and that their intellectual property is respected. There are too many examples to list, but the takeaway is clear: the business world is moving away from a centralized model of distribution and marketing, where monolithic companies control users’ access to information and innovation, to a decentralized where creative and driven minds can do the work that inspires them, and their customers and supporters can support them directly and ethically.
Proof of the overwhelming power of these new tools lies in the number of those very same Web 2.0 titans that are beginning to embrace Web 3.0 practices and possibilities. Two prominent examples are Twitter, whose integration of NFTs into user profiles and pictures allows the platform’s opinion leaders to assert their unique identity and receive “tips” directly from their followers, and YouTube, which is exploring possibilities for users to tokenize the work they upload to the platform. Even more interesting is a statistic from Electric Capital: the number of new blockchain developers actively committing code to Web 3.0 projects in 2021 surpassed 34,000, a 65% increase from the year before. The talented minds that honed their skills with Web 2.0 have begun to shift their focus to the next wave of developments—which means that the most groundbreaking innovations are yet to come. Even companies that predate the internet itself are recognizing the limitless possibilities of Web 3.0: Christie’s, one of the world’s leading art auction houses, has begun to utilize blockchain-based provenance solutions to verify the authenticity of the artworks it offers for sale, and at its first-ever auction of NFTs, a collection of video artist Beeple sold for an eye-popping $69 million.
The Web 3.0 world is vast, challenging, and ever-changing. This is a daunting barrier, but at the same time, this means that it is rife with possibilities for new and veteran entrepreneurs, creators, and makers. We are beginning to see numerous incubators and accelerators for new projects, such as Launchpad Luna (for NFTs) and Waves for a broader spectrum of blockchain apps. One of particular note is Collective Intelligence Labs (CIL), a decentralized incubator focused on building an infrastructure for Web3. CIL incubated DEIP’s creator economy protocol. To help expand the protocol’s reach and bring new users and entrepreneurs on board, DEIP launched the Creator Economy Accelerator, a business unit aimed at facilitating the rise of 1,000 new Web 3.0 businesses using DEIP technology. The startups which they take under their wing will receive financing, help, and advice to launch its Web 3.0 solution for tokenization of creator economy assets. Launchpool, based in Dublin, works together with emerging entrepreneurs building new extensions to the blockchain and tokenization protocols, and most notably, is part of the broaders Techstars community, allowing the startups and entrepreneurs within each accelerator to build community with each other and break down traditional disciplinary and industry boundaries. Another fascinating example is Seed Club, an incubator for community DAOs (distributed autonomous organizations) and social tokens (for individuals looking to monetize and protect their personal brand). Each of their cohorts receives dedicated, individualized mentorship to grow and fortify their online communities using tools ranging from smart contracts to more recent innovations like social tokens (popularized by Roll).
The Web 3.0 wave is rising higher and higher. If you want to build a business that will sustain you into the future and truly enrich your audience’s lives, don’t let it leave you behind!