In 1980 we were essentially slaves. Slaves to the big corporation, working for ‘the man’ (never a woman) for the mystical paycheck. Our life was defined by our jobs. We worked so we could live … a bit. The Internet changed many things: how we do business, how we find and document knowledge, how we socialise. It is now changing the very fabric of our existence: the routine of our lives.
People are increasingly mobile — travelling internationally, doing ad hoc projects, collaborating together in both work and personal lives. The Internet, and a flock of fresh, world-beating services, have enabled a new type of creativity and flexibility unlike anything we have seen before. Got a spare room? Put it up on AirBnB. Got a great idea or invention? Pull in money to make it happen with Kickstarter (or Mesenaatti in Finland). Creating nice handicraft? Etsy. Videos? YouTube. Nice app? AppStore, Play or Market.
We are becoming a popup society. Usually when people hear the word ‘popup’, they think of popup restaurants or popup stores, but really this is a wider phenomenon that is affecting everything we do. Groups form organically around many kinds of ideas or common causes. This is, in fact, the movement that drove Holvi into existence, and our mission is to enable this on an even wider scale than ever before. While banking and money are important parts of the popup movement, they are still just one part of everything happening. With that in mind we have decided to spend more time working with others who are part of this movement, either enabling it, or creating things within it. To put it bluntly: whether you are using Holvi or not, we want to meet you.
I’ve been quite intimately involved with the Nordic startup scene. Startups themselves are indeed the perfect embodiment of the Popup Society. Projects which are formed dynamically and quickly to test a business or product hypothesis. Garage48, Seedcamp‘s Seedhack and AaltoES‘s Build It have popularised this idea to the extreme: setting up a company, forming a team and building a product, all within 48 hours. In true popup fashion many of these ideas die immediately, but not all. Some have gone on to become great companies.
This is the beauty of the popup: ideas can be short lived, or long, it does not matter. It is not a failure if a popup dies quickly: that was merely the natural length of that popup. If it develops, evolves and continues, so be it. All of these services and initiatives are together working to take away the pressure of starting, thus leading to the most prolific explosion of ideas we have seen since the birth of the Web.
Of course this is not going to be an easy transition for everyone. It means we cannot lie back and simply allow others to lead our lives, and follow mindlessly through our daily activities. We cannot arrive at work every day at 9am, and be back home in time for the latest reality show. It won’t always be a comfortable, disengaged life. It means defining ourselves and who we are in relation to the society around us. It will take effort. However the development is inevitable, and the quality of services on offer means the act of popping up will almost become instantaneous and stress-free. By the time you come up with an idea, you will already have the infrastructure and the people to make it happen. Most importantly, it is in our nature. Even when we were corporate slaves, we did it so we could do those things we truly loved: sports, travel, theatre… I would argue that the vast majority of us have dreams and activities we want to make happen, whether businesses or hobbies or charities. Now, more than ever before, we can.
The Popup Society is really also an overarching term for everything going on in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing today. Collaborative creation and consumption. It is all about bringing people together from the far corners of the globe, to work in groups and to help one another build and create. It will allow innovations to expand and snowball in ways we have never before seen, and bring humanity to a creative level it has never before experienced.
The future is bright indeed, and it will pop up before we even notice.
Kristoffer is co-founder of Holvi and spends his non-existent freetime in demoscene activities, scifi and driving a Caterham 7.