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The New Frontier: We Can Do This!

Post written by Tom Higley on October 13 for Medium. Go to original blog post.

What if we could harness the creative drive and experience of the kind of successful serial entrepreneurs that helped create five of the top 10 market-leading companies, each worth hundreds of billions of dollars? What if we could focus this collective resource on the world’s biggest challenges — the things we call wicked problems? And what if we could fuel this work with private investment searching for market opportunities that promise ROI and impact? We can do this!

This, in a nutshell, is the vision and mission of 10.10.10 — the primary source of entrepreneur-driven, validator supported solutions to the world’s wicked problems. What, you may ask, is a “validator?” Stay tuned.

On October 16, 2017, 10.10.10 will host its first 10.10.10 Cities program focusing on wicked problems in water and infrastructure. 10.10.10’s first three programs focused exclusively on wicked problems in health — things like Alzheimer’s, Toxic Stress, Patient Data Matching, Childhood Obesity, Mental & Behavioral Health. “Health” is to 10.10.10 what “books” are to Amazon: the critical point of focus that turns the “impossible” into the “possible.” We drive the creation of new ventures that tackle the world’s wicked problems: in health, water, food, energy, learning, infrastructure, waste, security and climate change.

But why the “cities” focus? Why are cities so important? At the turn of the last century fewer than 10% of the world’s population lived in an urban area. Today over 50% of the world’s population is urban and by 2050 that number will increase to north of 65%. This means that the wicked problems that are the world’s greatest challenges (and also its greatest opportunities) are to be found in and addressed by cities and those who live in urban areas.

For the world’s large cities, few issues are more important than water and infrastructure. Government and large industry have significant size, scale and resources, but entrepreneurs offer speed, focus and the fresh perspectives that “outside the system” thinking and experiences can bring. Only by incorporating the diverse perspectives they bring will we begin to see bold solutions to wicked problems that go beyond the merely incremental.

We bring 10 serial entrepreneurs together to address some of the largest water and infrastructure related challenges. But we know, and they know, that without the insight, learning and access to resources provided by government and larger organizations, these entrepreneurs would be sorely handicapped. We call these larger organizations and institutions “validators.” Validators bring a deep understanding of a particular sector — e.g., water, health, infrastructure, energy, learning, etc. — and its problems. 10.10.10 creates a kind of “wormhole” that allows entrepreneurs and validators to come together, collaboratively, to spark a world of possibility — creating a new frontier.

You may be wondering: “who are these ‘validators’”? Validators for the upcoming Cities program include the American Water Works Association, AECOM, Denver Water, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Imagine H2O, Water for People, The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign, City of Denver Air Quality, City of Denver Office of Sustainability, David Evans & Associates, Go Code Colorado, NREL & RENEWW, and more. They help our entrepreneurs identify opportunities and mitigate risk. They are a fundamental part of the “founder due diligence” that has too long been missing in the approach serial entrepreneurs take to creating their next venture.

We sometimes say this model depends for its success on more than a village. It takes a “village of villages.” Our health programs have been made possible by the Colorado Health Foundation. And the 10.10.10 Cities program is made possible by the generous support of the Walton Family Foundation and the Gates Family Foundation.

Without these sources of support and without our other remarkable validators, these incredibly capable entrepreneurs might take weeks, months even years to gain a basic understanding of these wicked problems. Instead, in just 10 days time, these 10 prospective CEOs develop insights that help them identify extraordinary opportunities — something they might consider worthy of the investment of the next 5, 10 or 15 years of their lives. In the 12 months following the program they explore market-based solutions to these wicked problems in water and infrastructure. And we are supremely ambitious. We look for them to create new ventures that will surpass anything the world has yet seen.

From October 16–26, 2017, 10.10.10 hosts its Cities program in Denver. This 10.10.10 Cities program will focus on “wicked problems” 2 key areas: water and infrastructure. If you’d like to be involved in some way, this is the place to sign up.

We invite just 10 prospective CEOs to participate in each program. (You’ll find our most recent cohort of prospective CEOs here.) If you are a successful serial entrepreneur and plan to start a new venture, you may request an invitation here by filling out the form. We also partner with Validators (organizations and institutions with deep domain knowledge) and Ninjas (individuals with the specific skills — finance, marketing, design, product management, data analysis, etc.) to support our prospective CEOs during the program. We plan to host a 10.10.10 Cities program focused on health in Q3 of 2018.