I had a great conversation with an old college friend that got me thinking. Almost all of the items on YCs Request for Startups page ( https://www.ycombinator.com/rfs/ ) are problems that one would expect a well functioning government to be working to solve.
However, our government isn't well functioning and even more importantly the best and brightest people I knew growing up are not attracted to public service. The system feels inefficient, rigged, corrupted by money, and lacking the correct incentives.
I'm starting to believe more and more that it's possible for YC (and the valley in general) to have a disproportionate impact in solving these major problems plaguing society.
In just the past batch at YC I've seen companies/non-profits who want to reform the prison system, make it easier to learn to code, provide career services to young people, cure cancer, improve urban housing...
... eliminate smoking, fight the opioid crisis, provide higher speed internet to those in need, increase access to mental health services, eliminate workplace harassment, eliminate sexual assault, increase the efficiency of the healthcare system...
...help people save for retirement, speed up drug discovery, support refugees trying to build a new life, and more. Companies solving these problems not only got into YC - they are out fundraising right now and for the most part the valley is investing.
It will take a decade or longer for the true effect of these types of investments to be felt but I think more people should know about the brave founders who are out there trying right now. It's so easy to beat up on the current successful tech founders making news today...
...but I think more people should spend some time learning about the next generation of founders who have realized how powerful software is and are now trying to use that power to make the world a better place.
By the numbers most of them will fail - but all of them should be celebrated. They aren't just talking about how bad things are today. They are trying to do something about it and YC has their back.
You can follow @mwseibel.
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