Burning Man: Influence on Startups
The Burning Man is a festival celebrated each year in Black Rock City, Nevada, United States, motivating the startups' founders to adopt the festivity philosophy through their ideas; Tony Hsieh and his Downtown Project is an example of this. The Burning Man festival is a place where the rules are different, and startups can expand their boundaries experimenting and sharing new technology in a "community knowledge" environment.
Creativity Leads to Experimentation, Experimentation Leads to Developing New Ideas
- To achieve creativity, the restrictions of modern society must be "left outside" of the Burning Man festival, formalities and conventionalities are abandoned, and people enter in non-conformist community forms, based "on the principles of radical self-reliance and radical self-expression. "
- The creativity rises from certain events, from epiphanies, connections, and stimulus at the Burning Man, however, this only can work if the startup that the founder tries to boost is sailing smoothly.
- Technology experimentation is a fundamental component within the Burning Man festival. In the words of Larry Page, Google Co-founder, "there are many, many exciting and important things you can do at the festival that you just can’t do in normal work-life because they’re illegal, or they’re not allowed by regulation."
- The article written by the expert Alessia Clusini states that the process of creativity at the Burning Man festival leads to an ultimate objective, for which the outcome must be the implementation the new ideas into an inclusive and radical startup once the Burning Man has ended.
Examples of Startups/Startup Founders
- Shane Metcalf, Co-founder and Chief Culture Officer of 15Five, created a program where two employees are invited by the company to experience the Burning Man festival.
- Shane Metcalf says that the Burning Man's self-reliance on a cashless system and its focus on building art installations teaches attendees creativity, a skill imperative to any good business.
- Larry Page, Co-founder of Google, create the first doodle in history in 1998 because of his experience in the Burning man festival. The Doodle featured a stick figure in the logo and, curiously today doodles are a crucial part of the company success.
The Ten Principles of Burning Man Philosophy
- The Burning man culture is based on ten principles that are reflective of a community's spirit, aspirations, and beliefs. They serve as the prevailing guidelines for participants.
- These principles are not a mandate with regards as to what should be, but are a representation of the community's "ethos and culture" as it has evolved since the event started in 2004. They are radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.
- Some principles like radical inclusion, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, and communal effort invite the participant to be innovative and creative in order to contribute to a "community knowledge."
- The culture surrounding the Burning Man festival inspires startup founders to build their plans over this philosophy, putting the creativity and innovation in the center of their projects.
Examples of Startups/Startup Founders
- Zappos´ CEO Tony Hsieh, a passionate attendee of the Burning Man festival, was inspired by the Black Rock City event to commence the Downtown Project, described by VentureBeat as a $350 million plan to make Vegas an "entrepreneur’s Disneyland."
- At the Downtown Project website, there’s a description for it that closely evokes Burning Man’s principles: inspiration, entrepreneurial energy, creativity, innovation, upward mobility, and discovery through the 3 C’s of collisions, co-learning, and connectedness in a long-term, sustainable way.
- Innovation Lab, motivated by the Burning Man philosophy, decided to build an office in Black Rock City. They transformed the inspiration obtained in this massive MVP called Black Rock City into ideas and concepts for innovation.