Businesses should allow for a business culture in which life-long learning, playfulness and innovation can thrive.
This week news broke that hype beasts – young people with an obsessive interest in streetwear and sneaker brands – were paying an automated bot service up to £79 ($100, €89) to order a single piece of Supreme gear the moment it was released. One colourway of Supreme’s version of Nike Air Jordan 5 sneakers received about 200 orders in five seconds thanks to The Supreme Saint shopping bot, netting its teen creators a cool £15,755 ($20,000, €17,840) in the blink of an eye.
People pay for the bot because of the amount of hype that Supreme generates – weekly releases in at the skatewear brand’s London, Paris and New York stores are permanently oversubscribed – and trying to manually select, order and enter card details quickly enough to buy the said item on the e-commerce site is simply a losing game.
Today we are talking about Matt Steiner and his friend Chris though. The creators of The Supreme Saint are the real success story here. Despite still studying at college – photography and film production – the duo taught themselves to code through YouTube tutorials and an online academy, earning enough to justify setting up a limited liability company (LLC) years before graduating.
They are not the only ones. This entrepreneurial spirit was present in all of the members of a Generation Z Tribe we interviewed at The Future Laboratory. Elise by Olsen started her own magazine at the age of 15, Mateusz Mach was pitching to investors at the age of 17, and the world’s youngest yoga instructor, Skyler Dearen, was taking booster business courses before her 16th birthday. It is a generational shift in mindset.
This generational change in mindset has implications for the future of learning and the workforce. Logan LaPlante, a teen TED-talks expert, likens it to hacking. ‘I’m not afraid to look for shortcuts or hacks to get a better, faster result,’ says the 17-year old. ‘I don’t use any one curriculum and I’m not dedicated to any one approach. It’s a mindset not a system.’
Brands are the exact opposite: slow, careful and guarded about experimentation. While LVMH finally launches its online luxury hub 24 Sèvres, another teen entrepreneur, who wishes to remain unnamed, is deploying a bot that automatically finds, orders and ships high-demand fashion clothing that has recently been discounted online – leaving the creator free to nail their A Levels and watch revenue roll in.
The take-out is not that businesses should focus on developing bots – although the rise of automation is a key trend we are tracking at The Future Laboratory – but that they should allow for a business culture in which life-long learning, playfulness and innovation can thrive.
US-based agency Solve just demoted everyone in its company, including the CEO, to intern status. The idea is that all staff start from scratch and are treated as equals for a summer-long series of workshops and booster educational sessions.
How refreshing is that? Instead of imposing a hierarchy on staff, Solve has said everyone has a valid opinion and a role to play in the company. While it may seem radical, the programme gives people a sense of ownership – and in a future in which a Generation Z workforce will be far more entrepreneurial it is crucial that businesses give everyone a sense of autonomy, as well as a chance to develop. Brands will either be places to learn and progress, or simple stop gaps for those who need to take a break from the freelancer lifestyle.