How to Make Big Problems Into Sexy Businesses

by / ⠀Personal Branding Startup Advice / January 30, 2013

 Global Quote

I couldn’t decide what to title this post.  How do we drive views to a traditionally non-sexy topic like helping the poor?  I see it in our email open rates…  Write a title b*tching about how cold it is and everyone opens it.  Ask people to lend a hand to those less fortunate and nobody even notices…

Our startup / entrepreneur / social media community is amazing.  Someone gets cancer, or needs a kidney, or our developer get’s deported after graduation?  We’re on it.  If someone is making apps, then they are one of our own.  But when it comes to helping people who don’t have access to computers, that’s an entirely different story…. We can’t relate.  We think that we can only make impact after we have a multi-million dollar exit. Or maybe we simply can’t be bothered?

Bringing Sexy Back

How do we make “doing good” appealing to people who want to make money?  How do we build businesses that are both rich in social good and profit?  How do we solve huge global issues that we are passionate about and make an awesome living?

At the Startup Iceland Conference, I moderated a panel about how to build businesses that make impact and said our generation needs a “talent reappropriation plan”.  Instead of the world’s top young minds building the next Farmville, we need to look at global issues and figure out how we can build businesses that solve them.  There are billions to be made in education, healthcare, sustainability, food, water… pick the problem, and figure out how to make money and make the world a better place.

At Under30Media, we’ve decided to put our own sexy spin on the war on poverty– our Under30Experiences: Microfinance Surf Camp Nicaragua.  This trip is designed to get attendees out of their comfort zones so they come back to their desks with a whole new perspective.  If you want to do something really big with your life, we suggest joining our group of like-minded people who want to do just that.  And yes, you’ll come back with a tan…and some awesome stories for your friends.

How to Save the World: Start More Businesses

It sounds idealistic, I know.  But, it’s true.  The more smart young people taking action behind issues we care about, the better off we are going to be as a civilization.  Look at a business like Warby Parker.  Yes, they are making themselves insanely wealthy, but they are actually solving one of the world’s biggest epidemics–affordable prescription eyewear.

But people who aren’t Wharton grads are starting businesses too.  Like in Latin America?  Like everywhere.  Look at, where people from all over the world are getting micro-loans to start their businesses and help alleviate poverty.  I gave a guy named Francisco in Nicaragua some money to buy tires for his second mini-bus that he transports local harvests to the market with.  He’s hustling, just like the guy building your next anti-boredom app.  Even cooler, is that there is a 98% repayment rate on these loans…

Don’t Care About Latin America?

Micro-loans aren’t just about alleviating poverty in the developing world.  Kiva loans gave $300,000 to New Orleans residents who wanted to start businesses last year, 68% of whom were female-minority business owners.  And trust me, the United States desperately needs a way to alleviate poverty too.

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are crowd-sourced funding options too.  Need money to start a project?  Put up a posting and start raising capital.  Look at that…

Technology: Making the American Dream Global.

My point here is that the “American Dream” can be found anywhere.  The combination of technology and microfinance is providing access to capital around the world.  If you believe in being a global citizen, and know that poverty and entrepreneurship knows no borders, then take the first step in understanding how you can take action… Why not take ten minutes out of your day, check out Kiva?

If you’re really interested in getting a life-changing experience with other awesome young people, then check out our Microfinance Surf Camp to Nicaragua this April 17-21.  No, we’re not asking you to make a donation.  We’re not even asking you to be Kiva’s or any organization’s biggest fan.  We’re not even saying you’re a bad person if you don’t…

But remember: behind these businesses are real human beings.  Francisco in the fields of Nicaragua, that minority owned startup in New Orleans, and Under30CEO readers everywhere, all only have a certain amount of time on this planet and our legacy is up to us.  We want to show you things that you may not think about everyday and open your eyes to businesses, opportunities, and problems that maybe you will solve one day….

Sign-up to receive more information on our Under30Experiences: Microfinance Surf Camp Nicaragua and RSVP on February 6th.

Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30Media.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.