A look at what startups produced in 2010 provides us some context and perspective at how the creative economic revolution is faring.
As we wrap up the year and start getting (mentally) ready for a new one, the lists of ‘top trends' to plan for in social media, marketing and business overall permeate the media landscape. While collectively providing a helpful barometer, we're also drawn to some of the prognostications of last year, to gauge how those forecasted trends came to a head in 2010. One such piece that again caught our attention came by way of The Big Think – Richard Florida's piece in late 2009/early 2010 on Unleashing the Creative Economic Revolution.Florida defines the creative class as more than just knowledge workers;
…one day, I was reading some psychology and they were talking about human creativity. This guy, Rob Sternberg wrote, “If you're an entrepreneur or a business leader, an artist, or a musician, designer or something like that, you're a creative person.” I said, “Oh my god.” Maybe it's not just a knowledge class, or a post-industrial class, maybe this thing that links these people together, like the blue-collar worker used physical labor in the factory, maybe the thing that links these things together is their creativity.Florida believes the economic crash of the past two years served as an inflection – or transformation – point for the creative class. As with previous economic crises, this last meltdown actually stimulated the development of a new economic order. The first industrial revolution came to a head following the crisis of 1873, while the second industrial revolution experienced its tipping point with the crash of 1930. The global meltdown of the past two years will similarly see a rise in a creative economy that values this respective product. As a point of validation, Florida points to the viability of the creative class;
While the overall U.S. unemployment rate is 10% and while manufacturing workers have unemployment rates of 15%, and in some parts, like extraction and construction, 25%, the creative class is about 5%. So, the creative class has never seen great swings. I mean, that's up from 2% before. But it's never seen these great volatility and swings that really devastate manufacturing.Before one can misconstrue ‘creative class' as being associated mostly with artists, musicians, designers and the like – Florida points to Silicon Valley as the signal of the creative revolution beginning in the 60s – not Woodstock. What this tells us is that the ability to design solutions to everyday challenges – be they as mundane as taking better photos on your mobile, or as socially beneficial as developing a platform by which to fund third-world development and poverty-fighting initiatives – is a product of the creative class. It requires innovation, creativity, problem-solving and the ability to execute – this is as much the territory of strategic, creative businessmen and women with good ideas and passion as it is designers.
We think one clear, obvious indicator of what the creative economic revolution produced in 2010 is to look at what startups formed. From Flipboard to Instagram, LearnBoost to Diaspora, Kickstarter to CatchAFire, Foodspotting to Square – creativity abounded in the tech startup realm. Weeding through the top startup round-ups – from Read Write Web‘s to The Next Web‘s to Time's Best Inventions – provide a picture for some of the key business trends – and challenges – being addressed by startups. From mobile payment and transaction for small, local retailers to mobileeverything, proof abounded that – while consumption may never be the same as it was a handful of years ago – innovation and creativity to help people live better lives (and spend their disposable income more wisely) was, if anything, further stimulated by the economic crisis. Necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention