Grow Your Business: Learning From The First Startup Ever
September 27, 2021
Looking around at modern-day business, do you ever wonder what steps contributed to the rise of things like hustle culture, personal branding, and entrepreneurship as a whole? Humans have been engaging in trade for thousands of years, and our connections with those around us are what helps us to establish such strong communities. As humans have shifted from barter trade to money exchange, one may wonder how business has evolved in a similar fashion.
The first startup
The East India Trading Company was formed to stake a claim in the wealth available in the Indian spice trade, in addition to trade in cotton, silk, indigo, among other lucrative products. As with anything associated with colonial British regency, the company acted as an extension of the imperial will of the crown, contributing to the colonization and exploitation of numerous countries. As such, it is tantamount that we acknowledge the role of companies like the East India Company in expanding and participating in the international slave trade, especially considering the impacts of these actions are still felt today.
Looking at where we started, it’s interesting how far we’ve come. To wrap our minds around the sheer scale of the East India Company, we may find ourselves trying to draw modern-day comparisons. What is the connection between historical international superpowers to today’s global tycoons like Amazon or Google? What aspects of the business model remain the same? And with each iteration of business development, how can we push for companies to be increasingly more ethical moving forward? Knowing our history allows us to consider these questions.
“It’s hard to understand the [modern] global political structure without understanding the role of the Company,” said Yale professor Emily Erikson in an interview with History. “I don’t think we’d have a global capitalist economic system that looks the way it does if England hadn’t become so uniquely powerful at this point in history. They transitioned into a modern industrial force and exported their vision of production and governance to the rest of the world, including North America.”
Problems in your business
Despite its massive success and global monopoly due to its strongman tactics and use of military force, the East India Company started off unsuccessfully. As with any startup, the Company faced financing issues as a result of failed early business expeditions. Sound familiar? Even in a modern-day context, startups face issues with funding and support, whether it be because they don’t have a solid business model, or lack a clear vision.
Now, not all entrepreneurs have the support of the British crown when launching a startup, but there are steps you can take to give your business the boost it needs. The Ideamix idealab is a great place to start implementing the resources our website provides. Through idealab, entrepreneurs can solidify their passions and meet with qualified coaching experts to get advice on where to begin and how to proceed. Let us help you approach customary challenges of growth, scaling or profitability to workshop achievable solutions to take your company to the next level.
Sam Jayanti is the Founder of ideamix and writes on a wide range of topics in business. She is an alum of Harvard College and Harvard Business School, and was at Palantir, Good Governance Group, HarperCollins and JP Morgan in various roles over her 25 year career.