By Alex Hamilton
“Startup” is a ubiquitous descriptor in the business world. It suggests a dynamic nature, a potential for rapid growth and, as Forbes says, “a finger on the pulse of the future.” The startup boom is a recent phenomenon, brought on by the technological reality of a business unconstrained by geography.
The explosion of for-profit startups has paved the way for a generation of nonprofit startups. Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is riding the forefront of this wave: We are a small organization, empowered by modern technology, with a mission and reach that is global in scale.
ASC has engaged the outdoor community to assist the scientific and conservation communities in achieving tangible conservation outcomes. For conservation to happen, decision makers need data, and as long as there’s a need for data, there’s room for ASC to grow.
We’ve developed a 21st-century approach to data collection. What ASC does is sometimes described as “citizen science,” but we shy from that term, since our form of adventure science goes beyond the citizen science model of casual observation. By using tools like video, Skype, GPS and smartphones, we provide our volunteers with in-depth training and reliable, intuitive observation platforms. As a result, our partner scientists can receive high-quality, high-integrity data in real time.
The most successful for-profit startups aren’t the purveyors but the connectors—the Airbnbs, the Ubers. Mediation and facilitation are hallmarks of the new, global sharing economy. We do the same, mediating and facilitating the collection of scientific data.
ASC’s capacity for growth is in our ability to make these connections. Water samples from a Greenland sailing expedition are analyzed in Maine; snowboarding unnamed Himalayan peaks and collecting glacier samples for a university lab in Venice are no longer mutually exclusive. Instantaneous worldwide interconnectivity is the new normal in economics, in politics, in information.
For conservation to happen in the 21st century, this should be the case in science, as well.
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