The Simple Question That Produces Billions of Dollars in Innovation for Organizations and Individuals

Srinivas Rao
3 min readSep 3, 2019

A few years ago, I was speaking with Julien Smith, the CEO and founder of Breather. Julien has always been at the forefront of trends and been able to capitalize on them.

When I asked him how he developed this capacity, I was surprised by the simplicity of his answer. There’s one question we should be asking every time a new technology comes to market.

What does this make possible that wasn’t before?

In the mid-90s, you needed a computer science degree or hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to build a web site. Today, you don’t need any of those things. Anybody can build a web site in a matter of hours.

Every time you have convergence of two new technologies, entire industries emerge.

When the porn industry figured out how to charge a credit card over the internet, we got Amazon, eBay, and e-commerce as we know it today.

With Web 2.0, we got blogs, podcasts, and online video. The power in the hands of large media conglomerates suddenly belonged to all of us.

Anyone could write a book, record a music album, start a radio show, or TV show without the permission of a publisher, record label, or broadcast network. This is why Alexis Ohanian says the future will be built without their permission.

Instead of making uncertain bets, it enabled the gatekeepers to make bets where the demand was proven. This is why bloggers got book deals, youtube stars got TV shows, and so on.

Fast forward to smartphone ubiquity, and we go the convergence of mobile devices, location tracking, and many other things. This made most of the unicorns like Airbnb. Doordash, and Lyft possible.

Julien recognized the convergence of electronic locks and location tracking. The result was Breather.

Today we’re seeing the convergence of all of these technologies along with artificial intelligence. What comes with that is an acceleration of innovation.

Technical proficiency with tools will eventually become a commodity. And instead, the value will come from what we can imagine being possible with a tool.

With something like Beautiful.AI we can all make breathtaking presentations. But we have to have the taste, imagination, and creativity to use it effectively.

  • Directors have already shot feature-length films on mobile phones.
  • Artists have made art that would have been impossible a decade ago.

As an artist and creative, there’s one question I ask myself every time I discover something new: what could I make with this?

The individual creator has more leverage and power than at any other time in history. It’s a matter of whether they choose to use it. Capital from investors, support from an audience, and the resources we think we need amplify that leverage.

But it’s on you to start, to take advantage of the resources you have.

I’m the host of the and Founder of The Unmistakable Creative, where I have candid conversations with insanely interesting people ranging from bank robbers to billionaires.



Srinivas Rao

Candidate Conversations with Insanely Interesting People: Listen to the @Unmistakable Creative podcast in iTunes