Quantum theory is a heavy subject. Most people toss it in the same bucket as software programming or home construction, saying things like “I’m just not wired that way”. If you’ve made it past the headline, I like you already.
Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.
Niels Bohr, pioneer of quantum theory.
Quantum theory states that the nature of our reality is best understood on the particle (microscopic) level. Those particles exist in a wavelike pattern, as opposed to being static. Rather than being in a known state — on OR off —particles exist in a superposition, which is the ability to exist in more than one place simultaneously — on AND off.
Since you and I are made of particles, it stands to reason that we too exist in more than one place at once. This then extends to the idea that all other particle-based entities — think Earth, the solar system, and the entire known universe — also exist in multiple places.
At least, so goes the theory.
How is this theory of multiple versions of ourselves explained as reality? The kicker here is a concept called entanglement, which states that a particle exists in a superposition until observed, at which point it chooses a path and becomes what we call reality.
If we think of ideas also as particles, we can reason that they too must exist in a superposition until observed. This make sense — any idea in your head exists in an infinite number of states. Prior to writing this article, the idea for it existed in a superposition. I chose to observe it, thus creating a new reality (an article) which you and I are both now observing.
So how does this relate to startups?
Entrepreneurs are simply people who have taken a business idea out of a superposition and observed it. Elon Musk famously came up with the idea for SpaceX by asking the question, “why is spaceflight expensive?”. He discovered the materials needed to build a rocket were relatively inexpensive; most of the cost of spaceflight came from inefficiencies in the supply chain. By streamlining production and leveraging inexpensive raw materials, Musk created a new reality where humans are now on track to colonize Mars in the next 10 years.
Right now, millions of entrepreneurs are acting on ideas, and the ones we observe are changing the state of our reality. The more people buy into this reality, the more taboo it becomes to question it. Humans routinely accept realities at face value, simply because we don’t observe any alternatives. Limiting tourism housing options to hotels and condos was a flawed reality we accepted for years until Airbnb came along and changed the game.
So, most startups are simply attempts to create new realities, and there appears to be some correlation between long-term success and how radical a reality is when first introduced. Electronic payments were such a radical idea in the 1990’s, PayPal had to pay it’s early users $20 just to sign up!
The only way to change our current reality is by thinking of a new reality (vision/hypothesis), bringing it out of superposition (product/theory), and facilitating others to observe it (marketing/publishing). Through experimentation and analysis, we can then determine whether or not the new reality is objectively better (market fit). Everything you see around you did not exist at one point in time. Someday, your great grandchildren will observe a reality which does not exist today.
Let’s make it real.
Chris Turner is a co-founder of Tenrocket, a company building full-stack web and mobile applications for startups in 10 business days. Want to become a Hype Contributor? Email us to get the ball rolling!