Purpose Built Blog
December 20, 2022
What Economic Opportunity Means at Purpose Built
by Miles Lasater

Intro and What We Do 

Purpose Built co-founds tech-enabled companies with great entrepreneurs that advance economic opportunity for the US middle class. 

By starting successful tech-enabled companies, we can reach greater impact at scale more quickly. Much of the power of capitalism is in incentives and feedback loops. By harnessing it we can attract resources and impact more people.

What do we mean by economic opportunity? Economic opportunity is the ability for individuals to improve their economic standing and move towards their dreams. It is the foundation of a thriving economy and a key driver of social mobility.

At Purpose Built, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to reach for a better financial future. We’ll dive into why this is important, what kinds of companies we create and examples of companies that fit these categories.

The Challenge

Too many believe the American Dream is out of reach. Recent studies have shown that 6 in 10 Americans don't have the savings to cover a $500 emergency, and many say that millennials are worse off than the previous generation. This is a disturbing trend that has serious implications for the future of our economy and society.


We would like to believe that anyone can succeed and live their dreams through hard work and determination. But for too many people, economic constraints are holding them back from realizing their potential. This not only affects the individuals involved, but also the economy as a whole.

Our focus is the broad middle class in the US. Not the lowest income or the highest income but many who want to improve the family’s situation. This opportunity represents ~300 million people. Trillions of dollars are locked up in this unfulfilled human potential.

We choose the US market because it is big, we live here and understand it. Plus, there is a good regulatory and capital structure.

Why It’s Important

Not all dreams are material but they are many that can be supported by having the material conditions right. Prosperity in the US could be more widely attained and we want help to make that happen.


Although money isn’t everything, it creates the material conditions for people to realize their dreams and well-being.  And money is correlated with a long and happy life.

The link between money and health is well established. Studies have shown that individuals with higher incomes tend to live longer and have better health outcomes than those with lower incomes. This is true not only within countries, but also across different countries.

For example, globally healthcare expenditure by country and life expectancy in that country are correlated. While the causation is complicated to nail down, some of the effect must be that those with more to spend are able to save lives.

From Our World in Data

Data on happiness is less readily available. A recent study in the US suggests that higher incomes are associated with happiness. Contrary to previous studies, it may not plateau as early.

source

Areas of Focus

By starting successful innovative tech companies, we can reach greater impact at scale more quickly. Much of the power of the capitalism is in incentives and feedback loops. By harnessing it we can attract resources and impact more people.

Our focus areas are not meant to be an exhaustive list of what can increase earning potential or wealth. These are the ones we’re tackling first as high potential areas for growth.

Examples of companies meant that they qualify by industry not that we know enough about the company to fully endorse them.

Upskill – education, job training or apprenticeship concepts that lead in the short-term to increased earning. These programs could be done with employer involved or self-directed.

Not: While there are many worthy efforts in edtech, we are not focused on K12 or general education efforts unless they lead to more short-term earning opportunities.

Examples: Lynda and Guild

Fintech – financial technologies or products that can help individuals or small businesses thrive financially. Examples include financial advice, lending for small business, education, new models of ownership, transaction, saving or investing.

Not: Wealth management for the already wealthy or speculative crypto investing.

Examples: Square, Greensky, Stripe

 

Future of Work – labor marketplaces, how find a job and how hire, relationship to earning, additional opportunity or participation in ownership. how do people increase their incomes, or make money. How is hiring happening, labor market places, how do you find a job. New income generation. How is the relationship with employers working?

Not: SaaS tools for a Fortune 500 company to use with their employees. We do not mean general tools for enabling remote work unless there is increased earning opportunities.

Examples: Uber, Alibaba, Braintrust, Handshake and [Toptal]

 

SMB & Creator Economy - helping creators, solopreneurs and small businesses start and grow. Could be operational, sales or marketing products, for example.

Not: Content creation or editing tools unless there is a income producing competent.

Examples: Etsy, Shopify, Thumbtack

Economic Opportunity in Our Process

To incorporate these intentions into our process, we screen and score ideas of our economic opportunity mission. (For more on our ideation and scoring process, please see our blog post How to Have 1,044 Startup Ideas in 10 Months) On our definition stage rubric 10 out of 50 points awarded for economic opportunity.

We are excited that for many of our founders, a startup is a way to pursue economic opportunity for themselves, too. And we seek founders who are excited about building opportunities.

Join Us

Our goal is to create billions of dollars of value for investors and for customers. We would love to work with you on this goal.

If this mission resonants for you, please reach out. We could start a company. Or you could join a company. We’d love to talk about how we could collaborate.

Let's build together.
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