11 Feb The Force Awakens [Part 2]
[This is Part 2 of a two part series reflecting on a slice of 2015 and celebrating the beginnings of a new chapter at Blume, as we turn 5 this month] Part 1 is here.
We are all Jedi…if we want to be!
The grand finale of ‘2015, a Space Odyssey’ was the treat that lived upto the expectations of the Star Wars fan base and brought a few new generations of kids into the Force field. I was not a die-hard fan of the cult, but had seen all the films over the decades past. But they were such discrete experiences at one level because of all the time gaps and prequels being delivered 20 years after the originals etc. So, when circumstances led to being holed up in wintry NYC between Xmas and New Year, I got the larger family hooked to the idea of binge watching Parts 1 through 6 (released in 1999, 2002, 2005, 1977, 1980, 1983, in that sequence – Parts 1 through 3 were Prequels to the originals and Part 1 was made 16 years after Part 6, for the benefit of Star Wars newbies – get with the Force, people!), before we savoured the new part 7 in theatres. By the end of the week, the Force was strong through the household and its entire new fan base.
Star Wars is set so far out in its imagination that while there are humans around, they are but broadly incidental, at least in our Earth-like avatars. The mutations are pretty much the majority of that Galaxy. However, the imagination displayed in Star Wars has its inspirations in all of our own mythological past (across various cultures and continents) and the understanding of our spiritual and metaphysical present.
While its an epitome of classic ‘good vs evil’ storytelling, it extends the notion to the farthest point in the human understanding; which is the equivalent of the “Force” or what manifests itself in karma and nirvana, positive and negative energies etc., which are usually symbolized by our own individual and collective searches for spirituality or God, aka something to hold onto meaning in life. While this is not a sermon on any of that, the Force (in Star Wars parlance) to me is a symbol of how you can extract out of a collective energy source and build something for the public good.
The film, along with most superhero films of this 21st century timeframe, also show what is an interesting philosophical strain at Blume – there are no singular winners and losers – one has to be a part of a collective to have the possibility of scaled impact. And in that strain of thought and in that community we are trying to nurture at Blume, is the secret sauce of what keeps our engines humming to the tunes of the Force everyday.
While we’re always overwhelmed with the possibilities, while gradually building Blume’s place in the Indian startup ecosystem, I’m also constantly surprised at the shallowness in junta’s understanding of what scale does for us at Blume. We see disbelief and skepticism rather than cautious optimism and hope around our quest to make our model successful. Scale is perilous and scary no doubt, but if we are encouraging a generation of startup Jedi to emerge from within this scale, we are channelizing the Force at an unprecedented scale in this country. It may not be specific persons who represent the Dark side of the Force but, collectively, there are enough societal banalities we’ve created over decades now in India, that represent Darkness. We need a startup collective and the Blume portfolio is just one of many host planets for these Jedi.
For a startup founder, if there was a mantra I would lend, it’s this:
“We are all Jedi, if we want to be”
It’s so easy to flip to the Dark Side – corruption, corporations of old, malaise, excuses, ‘chaltha-hai’ attitudes, bureaucracy, silly VC / vanity metrics etc. As an India-based startup founder in 2016, especially in tech, your good fortune is that you have a choice between the Dark Side and the Jedi force, a choice that wasn’t as easily available for a few generations of entrepreneurs before you. When enough of these Jedi are trained and assembled, as we’d like to believe is our attempt, it’s but obvious that, then, the Force Awakens!