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Someone poignantly remarked that Silicon Valley has a “problem” problem. Indeed, we don’t need another app to tell us conveniently where the nearest coffee shop is and it is unlikely that the world’s most pressing problems will be solved by instant coffee. Instead, we need to be investing in companies that take care of the village.

Businesses exist to meet our needs and serve a purpose. So there are plenty more startups that can be created. Ultimately, we need resources:

  1. Sustenance: Essential resources to sustain ourselves
  2. Expression: Essential resources to communicate and express ourselves
  3. Connection: Essential resources to connect and develop relation- ships with others
  4. Managing Change:Essentialresourcestopreparefororexperience change or for managing change
  5. Making Decisions: Essential resources for making decisions
  6. Exchange: Essential resources for exchange

I call these six things Essential Resources.

The startups we need help people access the resources they need to do one or many of these five things. The difference a startup can make in how these things are accessed can be described in 1 of 6 ways:

  1. basic access to resources
  2. more efficient access to resources
  3. access to more or better choices of resources (greener, healthier, etc.)
  4. more convenient access to resources
  5. access to resources through employment
  6. access to resources through supply chain

We also get access to excess resources you don’t actually need (luxury), but by its very definition, this type of access isn’t actually necessary for people to survive, thrive, and be happy.

A lot of new technology and digital media startups may address any six of the Essential Resources and may give people access to these Essential Resources in one or more of the six types of access.

New startups in the social enterprise and venture philanthropy space tackle 1 in each of the two lists, and maybe some of the others.

So, what startups do we need? It depends upon who you mean by “we” and depends upon whether you include serving others that need even the most basic Access to Essential Resources.


More tips and tools for getting started in impact investing and further details about Access to Essential Resources as an impact evaluation tool can be found in Integrated Investing: Impact Investing with Head, Heart, Body, and Soul – available at all major online book retailers.

Download your free 24-page Integrated Investing Toolkit, by signing up to the Pique Ventures newsletter.


This post was originally published on Quora.