Venture capital? Who needs that!

Thanks for low or no-cost computing power, 'anyone, anywhere can build the next Google.'

Venture capital?  Who needs that!

That's the view of Stanford's Vivek Wadhwa, who points out that computing costs have come so low that "anyone, anywhere can build the next Google." And there's no need to raise venture capital to get established, he writes.

"The cost of developing world-changing startups has dropped dramatically," he says. "With the exponential advances in technologies such as computing, storage, and sensors, entrepreneurs can do what only governments and big research labs could do before: solve big problems."

For example, when Google was founded in 1998, the cost of processors and storage to support such a search engine ran into the millions of dollars. Now, equivalent processing and storage power is available for hundreds of dollars -- and prices still keep dropping. Handheld devices such as iPhones have as much processing power as yesterday's supercomputing, and today's supercomputing power is now available from the cloud, for a few dollars an hour.

Wadhwa provides examples of startups with incredible ideas that were started with very little money, such as Matternet, a drone-based delivery system, Lifestock, a system for synthetically  producing meat, and BluBox, a company that converts used DVD players into portable labs.

It's a rough-and-tumble economy. But thanks to cloud and low-cost computing, there is a huge wealth of online resources available to those who want to launch their own ventures, be they employed inside companies or free agents. Entire functioning companies can be assembled from the thousands of APIs available to provide every conceivable business function, from credit card processing to human resources management. Social media enables businesses to reach out to prime markets at virtually no cost.

Welcome to the do-it-yourself economy -- with its low price of admission.

(Thumbnail Photo: Vivel Wadhwa's LinkedIn site.)

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