In part one of this series, Innovation Warehouse founder and CEO Ami Shpiro reminisced on what the start-up world has gained with the rise of coworking over the last decade – and what an industry now dominated by big property plays has lost in the process. In part two, he speculates on the future of innovation and entrepreneurship in the context of shifting global priorities toward sustainable business.
“Ten years ago, I foresaw the creation of coworking hubs to unite mentors with entrepreneurs and share resources and experience. People used to ask me about Innovation Warehouse: ‘Why did you do this?’ The reason wasn’t to make money, it was because I had the insight that it was something that just needed to be done. No one else was doing it at the time and it made a lot of sense to me.
“Today, I have a sense that something else needs to be done. There’s a combination of forces that are coming together and creating a tsunami around global sustainable development goals. There’s also a whole new generation of people who have higher expectations – it’s not just about slogging away at work, it’s about having a purpose: why am I doing this? What’s it for and what’s the outcome?
“If you take that together with the environmental and climate challenges we’re facing, these issues are increasingly entering people’s collective consciousness. You have these forces around awareness and you’ve got the internet and the social connections it provides, and this allows an expression of what people want to emerge. As more and more people want change, it will force change to happen.
“Put all of that together and it’s clear that things will need to shift dramatically in the direction of a circular economy – which is when businesses start to put externalities at the heart of their business models. It seems obvious that we should be building externalities into our economic model, which means making environmental concerns an integral part of business practice.
“The need for corporate social responsibility initiatives actually shows that something is fundamentally wrong. The good we’re doing for the environment should be completely inherent in our business models, not supplementary to them. Full environmental impact should be taken into consideration when structuring start-ups, with sustainability fundamental to our commercial outlook.
“It’s a no brainer that things need to shift in the direction of a more circular economy if businesses are to survive. A lot of infrastructure is being held up by business models that are damaging the infrastructure of the planet. Business models that are only focused on the commercial bottom line and have no space for externalities should really become extinct.”