Let’s get this show on the road!

The last couple of years, as De Ondernemers, we have done a lot of stuff in the area that was once called ‘web2.0’. We experimented with an online opinion magazine written by a (hyper)local community (Stadslichten), we tried to create an online marketplace for speakers (Speakonomy), we invested much (way much) too early in location based advertising (Profitbird) and somehow managed to make Twitterfountain the joy of all people organizing conventions worldwide. In the mean time, we wrote books, gave lectures, helped kick off Startup Weekend Groningen and Social Media Club Groningen, and did numerous consulting gigs.

We didn’t really have time to get bored, so to speak.

In the coming months, we have committed ourselves to reduce the number of things we work on to allow us to reflect on what we have actually witnessed the last couple of years. For us, reflecting means: thinking, talking and writing to come to insights that are valuable to both ourselves and hopefully others.

In short: this is what we see happening in the world right now:
over the last decennia, a world has come into existence in which everybody is connected with each other and information is always available. This has in turn facilitated a completely new eco system of thousands and thousands of digital ‘town squares’ where millions of conversations take place. These conversations sometimes cover soccer, or international development support, or politics. Sometimes, the town square hosts a market place, but usually the conversations going on cover a lot more than just product specifics. In short: the internet has ended the era in which only the ‘mass public’ had a reason for existence, and has made room for real conversations.

None of this is really should surprise you, many books have been written about it already. But what is new, according to us, is that these online ways of communication, behaviour and mentality are spreading to the offline, real world. New ways of working together, financing stuff and doing business are popping up everywhere. The overall shifts seem to entail: from closed to open, from (value) chains to networks, from profit maximisation to value creation.

At the same time we see big companies and corporations in the old world try to become ‘2.0’ as well. For most, this only runs skin deep. ‘Het Nieuwe Werken’ is reduced to ‘not having your own desk to work at’ and ‘social media’ is being outsourced to marketing agencies.
And to complicate matters even more, we see young, fresh companies start to act old as soon as they become even slightly successful.

To us, all of this raises interesting questions. What is going on exactly? Can we use any of this to create value for ourselves and others? We’ll be researching these and related questions in the coming months. We’ll report here, and are looking forward to any thoughts you might want to share in the comments…