The ultimate startup wouldn’t have a stock ticker, corporate headquarters, or even sell goods and services. It would, however, be held responsible for the welfare of its “customers.”
Creating a new country is one of the most difficult, complicated and riskiest things you can do. But it can also be one of the most rewarding since you’ll have a direct impact over the lives of your citizens.
There are 195 countries in the world today, and most of the newest countries have formed out of conflict. Around two dozen countries were formed in the 1990s alone stemming from the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, and others.
Why haven’t countries been created using the startup mindset – out of careful thought, experimentation, and the desire to make something better? Isn’t it worth trying to make a better government and to make people happier? Shouldn’t countries try to recruit the best talent from all over the world?
Countries are a lot like Businesses
Countries and businesses share many similarities. In order to survive, countries need to keep their customers (citizens) happy, and they need to generate revenue (from taxes, selling resources and exporting goods, or investing in other countries or corporate entities). Countries also need to form partnerships, abide by certain rules, invest in research and development, and should also have a roadmap for the future.
Unfortunately, most countries today are too similar to large corporations and not enough like startups. They are large, slow-moving, and bureaucratic when in fact they need to be more nimble and responsive to their citizens.
No Easy Task
Like forming your own startup, there is a long list of things that need to be thought through before you can create a new country: Where will you be based? Who are your first citizens and how will you encourage them to join you? What type of government will you establish? How will you raise money and how much do you need?
Countries could even be landless (though you should be able to negotiate with a country to buy their land). Getting land for your country would be difficult, but startups always have serious disadvantages when competing with entrenched players.
Once you get a certain number of people (so we know there is demand) and backing of a certain number of dollars (so we know the country is viable), you should be able to have a charter country in the United Nations.
There are many more complex issues that would need to be thought-through first, and even if you were able to address all of them, there would still be a lot of risks and on-site learning. But daunting tasks have never kept entrepreneurs away from trying to accomplish their goals.
People should be encouraged to start countries. Not only is there is a monopoly on starting your own country but there is also a lot of upside for your citizens. Breaking down the barrier to create and develop countries will require much trial and error, but innovation and progress only happen through experimentation.
Darwinism also applies to the nation-state just like it applies to companies and besides, a little creative destruction is a good thing.
Special thanks to Michael Hsu for his thoughts and edits and Shervin Pishevar for his inspiration.