The Next Big Thing

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Yesterday, I watched the documentary of Microsoft. How it all began in 1975 when a 21 year old and a 19 year old took a chance and wrote a letter to a big company telling them they could build software for their product. And that was how Microsoft began. The company asked for a prototype, Bill Gates and Paul Allen worked day and night to make a demo software, finished it on the plane ride to the big company. They got paid and told to make more software. Bill Gates took a break from Harvard. The personal computer world was just beginning then. Only the geekiest of the geeks paid attention to it, and only the nerds were involved. It was the fringe. Filled with youngsters with no corporate experience -- university dropouts, nerds, students and tech freaks.

The documentary showed how Microsoft progressed year after year since that 1975 deal. No structure, no marketing, no incorporation, little legal stuff and like a pet project. Looking in retrospect, no one would have predicted it would last this long let alone become one of the world's biggest company and producing the world's richest man. They simply built software for their fellow tech geeks and a few big companies. Three years after they formed a partnership and registered the company. For 5 years, everyone in Microsoft was a programmer. No business guy. No lawyer. No finance guy. For 8 years Bill Gates did all the accounting.

Then, the computer industry was the next big thing. Like the petroleum industry in the mid 19th century and the auto industry at the start of the 20th century. As Steve Jobs said, the next big thing is never started by the big companies, by experienced business men or by popular people. If you're looking for the next big thing, check the fringe. In Nigeria, check the sociopreneurs and the Nigerian startup community.


But in the world, the next big thing is the renewable energy industry. It started as an obsession of ambitious university professors and graduate students. But now it's much bigger. The big energy companies are beginning to notice and are helpless. The only thing they can do is buy up these much smaller guys who are building the future. In fact, the former parent company of Julius Berger Nigeria, Bilfinger SE exited Nigeria because they are transitioning into an engineering and services group with special focus on servicing the Energy industry. They know that the next revolution is going to happen there. Developed countries are placing a cap on emissions. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, nuclear thermal stations are now seen as a ticking bomb. The amount of research money spent on harnessing energy from eco-friendly renewable sources is mind blowing. Trillions of dollars. It's the inevitable future.


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