Hacking for Good

Everybody wants to create the next Facebook. Or Snapchat. Or Candy Crush. There's nothing wrong with that. But so many entrepreneurs idolize founders because they are "overnight successes," and make millions from their idea going viral.

That reverence is flawed.

Founders should not be put on a pedestal because they've made millions of dollars or have hundreds of millions of users. Entrepreneurs should instead be respected for creating products that make the world a better place, and secondarily for what personal success they amass.

And one can see that trend starting: Y Combinator, arguably the most prestigious startup accelerator, accepted its first nonprofit company over the summer. This current winter batch has six nonprofit companies (disclosure: I'm part of one of them -- Immunity Project). And companies like Geeklist are putting on hackathons with the theme "#hack4good" where competitors are encouraged to build products for nonprofit organizations.

This is an amazing start. It's clear that Silicon Valley and the broader global community are beginning to recognize and remember the importance of impact over sheer scale and numbers. But there still exists a strong divide. Hackers I've spoken to feel like it's a binary situation -- they can either create a nonprofit that does good for the world -- or a for-profit company that compromises purpose for profit.

But I argue it's entirely possible to create a company that makes a sizable profit while creating genuine social value. In fact, the best possible products are those that make the world a better place -- and that doesn't mean solving a major social problem.It could be as simple as increasing efficiencies or making people happier.

So instead of thinking about startups as a "money machine" or an opportunity to "get rich quick," I would ask my fellow entrepreneurs, my fellow hackers, my fellow community members, to recall the true essence of entrepreneurship: to create great products that make the world a better place.

Build something big. Something sustainable. Something people will remember. Something that has an impact. And if you build a truly great product that does good in the world, I guarantee you the money will follow.