Millennial Gold Rush – Internet Startups: The New Wild West

Start Up. Cash In. Sell Out. Bro Down.

Cartman knows that it is that easy. The world of startups seems to dominate the explosion of wealth in today’s culture. They range from social networking websites, to sleek apps, to innovative new companies that address our societal needs, startups, especially by Millennials make big headlines.

Some quick names we’ve all heard of or even use that were created by Millenials: Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, and Quora.

The allure is strong as it was in the California Gold Rush. Maybe even more so with more money to be made now at an even faster pace. Some similarities that come to mind are: the risk necessary for the reward, the perceived ease of getting rich, the optimistic spirit needed to see things through.


The internet is awash with articles from all angles on millennial startups. Lisa Curtis (@LisaCurtis) on Forbes wrote about The Millennial Startup Revolution. She writes, “the unappetizing prospect of remaining unemployed or working a low-wage internship has inspired many of us to crown ourselves CEO.” I can personally say I, along with my wife, often thought out ways we could put on that crown. We are millennials. When we bought our first house we had internet before we even had a refrigerator.

I went through a long job search after getting my Bachelor’s degree. I thought I was going to be a teacher. I got my degree, got certified to teach and then spent the next four years looking for a full-time teaching position. Through it all I worked various part-time jobs to fill the gaps when I couldn’t substitute teach. I worked as a delivery driver for a fruit basket place, I painted houses as a subcontractor, I even spent hours raking leafs one week and doing odd jobs for a friend of my mom. I put stickers on textbooks. I worked as a tutor (both in schools and privately). I sweated. I toiled. I cried. And finally I got a job doing nothing I ever even set out to do.

So in all the empty hours of seemingly meaningless work I have often dreamed of being my own boss. Which Lisa’s second point touches on with the idea that we millennials are craving more meaning. I am a Christian and think that life is a wonderful gift from God and that in the verity of vocations the world offers they all can have meaning found in the priesthood of the believer. Without getting too preachy, I think that if you do your best at whatever you do and treat people right, than any particular job could be meaningful. However, I know that most people in my cohort are seeking a world changing type of meaning both applying to their lives and those around the world. And I too think this is possible, do-able, and a worthy pursuit. We should all strive for excellence in our lives and the lives of others.

The third point of Lisa’s article about it being easier than ever to create a startup is one of the parallels to the Gold Rush that I would like to explore further. I think this pairs also with the optimistic spirit needed to see things through. In the Gold Rush folks flocked to the promise land of California with one goal in mind: Get Gold! I don’t know about you but the way I imagine it, it probably went something like this:

“I hear they’ve got tons of gold out in California.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. All in the hills. Right there out on the ground. All’s you gotta do is is pick it up and then you’re rich.”
“Well it’s a long ways off.”
“Yeah but it’s gonna be so easy. Sure we might have to sacrifice some comfort but it’s gonna be worth it once we don’t gotta be doing all this pointless work no more.”

And Bam-O! Off to the Wild West to make a quick buck. I am sure startups are not as easy money as the media might have you think. The number of startups that fail are astronomically higher than the ones that make headlines. My wife and I actually tried to start a business a few different times and have yet to have had one that garners paying customers. Our first attempt we spent way too much time on all the wrong things. The second time around we got closer thanks to Dan Norris (@thedannorris) and his book “The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch”. This is a great resource and I am sure we will use it over and over again until we strike gold. However, after one frantic and fun week our idea didn’t pan out. So instead of wasting our time, we learned.

We have much more work to do and need new and better ideas (here is one idea of mine). But until then we press on. An optimistic outlook keeps us ticking because, hey we’re millennials. Ultimately, after being taught to be critical thinkers, told that we can accomplish anything (which may or may not be true or even good advice/encouragement), and looking around and knowing that we can do better, we must keep digging.

Some further reading:
High-Tech Investing Startup for Millennials Hits $1 Billion in Assets

Is startup life giving millennials the blues?

Why Millennials Are a Perfect Fit for Startups

Top 10 Richest People in the World Under 30


Set Out, Startup: 70 Percent of Millennials Want to Start Their Own Business

3 thoughts on “Millennial Gold Rush – Internet Startups: The New Wild West

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