For two days Cologne was the epicenter of the international web startup scene, hosting more than 400 participants from many countries at the ADVANCE conference (19-20 September). For FutureChallenges, the most interesting part was not the business models presented by the start-ups. The most interesting and exciting part for the scope of FutureChallenges was a session with „three teen entrepreneurs on the rise“.
Their dedication and passion are indeed outstanding. But noteworthy is first and foremost their motivation – as Ricardo Sousa put it: they are “not doing it for the money.“ Let’s not pretend that all teen entrepreneurs would be so disinterested in the prospect of earning some money, but from these three entrepreneurs it was pretty impressive to hear about the need for a changed education system or the need to „stop undermining ideas“ from the youth just because they were produced by young people instead of elite university grads. And these ideas will be needed to find innovative approaches to the world’s future challenges.
There is some hope that today’s teenage generation could perform better in terms of finding sustainable ways to navigate in the future. The world is even “flatter” for them than it was for their parents’ generation. For many of them it is a matter of course to stay abroad for some time getting to know other cultures and pespectives. Beyond that, the Internet provides the opportunity to contact people from all over the world and to be exposed to many different ideas. And – as the British philosopher John Stuart Mill correctly said – discussing and exchanging views can only make you smarter.
Perhaps it is also naive to believe that the teen generation will be better prepared to find innovative solutions to tackle future challenges (much less to act on those ideas), but I think there is some reason to believe that not only teen entrepreneurs but young changemakers are on the rise as well.