Entrepreneurship vs Fanaticism: Too Boring to Be Noticed

Tony wonders why the media prefers to shower fanaticism on tech millionaires, gadget stories, or dire warnings of online danger, but regard useful business ideas by entrepreneurs too boring to be noticed.

As anyone who’s ever started a business can attest, entrepreneurship can be one of the most passionate, dramatic, and risky moves a person can make in life.

But for some reason in this celebrity and entertainment obsessed society, many people think that’s absolutely boring.

Take the recent awarding of top prizes in this year’s New Ventures BC (NVBC) competition, which has been nurturing BC tech entrepreneurs for seven years. The competition pays some sweet prize money — $60,000 for the winner, $38,000 for the second place business, and $17,000 to the third place winner. Plus, BC Hydro awards a $20,000 sustainability prize.

This isn’t chickenfeed. It’s one of the richest paying business contests in Canada, and has an especially strong effect in BC where so many companies are small and constantly struggling for money.

But the awards went largely unreported. Probably because they rewarded useful business ideas, which to most of the media is as dull as dirt. Instead when it comes to business, we generally get a steady diet of tech millionaires, gadget stories, or dire warnings of online danger.

Too bad, because these NVBC competitions paint a far truer picture of the business scene than the usual articles about see and be seen business people, cool consumer gadgets, or the daily horse race that’s the stock market.

For example, this year’s top prize winner was North Vancouver’s Augurex Life Sciences Corp. which has developed a new method for measuring arthritis-caused joint damage. Ask the thousands of BC arthritis sufferers whether that’s more important than some trinket like the ipod. Second prize went to Victoria’s TeamPages Inc. for a new online social network that helps amateur sports team administrators, coaches, parents and athletes organize and keep in touch with each other. Strikes me as a lot more useful social exercise than hooking up online or voting for who’s hot or not.

Third was Bean Services Inc., a Vancouver company that offers businesses a secure online system for digitizing and managing bills. Very useful if you’re a business, but anything to do with B2B services almost never makes it into the media. Too complicated.

The sustainability prize went to Biometals Recovery Systems of Vancouver, which is developing a biologically-based, energy-efficient technology for treating liquid and solid resource-industry waste streams in the mining and petroleum industries. Can you get more boring – or useful — than that?

In fact, of the 10 finalists in the competition only two business ideas could have been said to appeal, if even peripherally, to the traditional consumer market.

So, 2007 NVBC winners. Too boring to be noticed?

Do you agree with Tony? Disagree? Use the comment form below and let us know what you think!