Matt Stockton

mattstockton@gmail.com
The Forced Opportunity in Entrepreneurship

I’m not going to lie. This economy is dead scary. I’m sure that for most of you, the company water cooler buzz these days is not about who is getting promoted, but is about what percentage of your company is getting layed off. When TechCrunch has a layoff counter showing over 100k lost jobs, and a Job Board with only 50 openings, you know things have gotten bad. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not that interested in being scared — it’s hard to focus on the positive things in these times, but sometimes focusing on the positive is an absolute necessity to stay sane – and that’s why I’m going to tell you that being a ‘would-be’ software/web entrepreneur in this economic climate is not so terrible of a spot to be in.

Ryan Graves recently blogged about the best age for entrepreneurship and the post had some very interesting follow-up conversation in the comments. I agree that age is a very interesting dynamic to look at in startups. Another interesting characteristic in the context of best overall ‘life situation’ for entrepreneurship is an individual’s level of risk aversion. When you have a steady job and steady income, it is a lost easier to be risk averse. Entrepreneurship is obviously not for the faint of heart or completely risk-averse, as there is plenty of opportunity to fail….on the flip side – in order to succeed, you must sometimes take the opportunity when it presents itself.

With the current economic climate, more and more tech workers are facing what I’m calling a ‘forced opportunity’. It’s no surprise that tech workers aren’t immune to the economic downturn and are getting laid off. For most, this is an awful situation to be in – but for a few, this is just the event they needed to get over their risk-aversion of trying to go at it on their own. Many would-be-entrepreneurs probably find it difficult to make the ‘leap of faith’ between part-time entrepreneurship to go along with a steady job and a full entrepreneurial commitment. I’m not saying that being forced into it is a good thing, but there might be some lights shining if we try to look at the bright side.

With that being said, I know that Silicon Valley has been hit hard lately….and because of this, I’m looking for some new awesome startups to come out of there in the next year or so from the talented ex-Yahoos and others. The Software industry is still great — what other industry can say that the most expensive part of the investment is simply your time and passion? - I doubt there are many.

On that note, Ryan Graves pointed me towards two projects already spawned from laid off Valley workers (specifically, Ryan Kruder) * Purple People Collective- A job / project board for laid off tech workers * Neighborsville - A location-specific networking / collaboration / news community

Do you know of any more? If so, I am interested to hear about them.