When considering the themes of commerce and creativity, it’s incumbent upon any writer to remember the titans of industry that have effectively created the world in which we live. Here is one of those magnates, Steve Jobs, speaking on the very topic:

“When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life. Have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is everything around that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

(The clip above is from a long PBS documentary on the late Apple founder,One Last Thing. Interested readers can find the full documentary on YouTube.)

The quote is, I think, very apt: starting a company is really a fundamentally transgressive act.

What do I mean by “transgressive?”

When starting any kind of a business (whether it be a corner store or a mobile social network), the entrepreneur is putting forth a business thesis, which rests on one of two predicates:

1) The thesis has not been tried before: therefore, everyone who considered it, found it lacking for some reason, and decided not to pursue the idea was wrong; or,

2) The thesis has been tried before; however, everyone that has tried out the thesis in the past and failed, along with everyone that is currently working on it now, is doing it wrong.

This is the reason why new ventures encounter so much resistance: their business plan, indeed any business plan, rests in some way on the presumption that the market is inefficient and its current and past participants are approaching it incorrectly.

As such, the entrepreneurial process is at its core not only creative: it’s countercultural, heterodox, sometimes even insane.

One of the most “countercultural” events on the business calendar this year is the C2-MTL Commerce and Creativity conference, held in Montreal this May 27-29. This event seeks to explore the connections between creativity and business, which lie on the “fine line between genius and insanity,” according to the conference’s manifesto. Last year, this event featured Richard Branson and Philippe Starck; this year, the lineup is headed by filmmaker and philanthropist James Cameron, Nobel Prize-winning micro-financier Prof. Muhammad Yunus, and renowned fashion designer Christian Louboutin.

I’m delighted to announce that CoPower has been selected as a top emerging company by the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, and have been invited to participate in C2-MTL next week, to bring our perspective on clean energy crowd-financing to the international community. If you’ll be there, I hope you’ll reach out to us and help us explore new ideas, whether they’re genius or insanity.

Raphael Bouskila is a founder of CoPower, a Canadian company providing crowd-financing to clean energy projects.

 

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