Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the most widely cited theories for explaining human behavior. The hierarchy explains human motivation by showing how we begin by trying to address our most fundamental needs (physiological). Then, once these are met, we move on to more complex needs (psychological and emotional).
Of course, when Maslow created his theory in a 1943 paper, he didn’t anticipate the tech startup scene of today, with thousands of apps using software to cater to every human craving, from the most fundamental to the most frivolous.
The hierarchy below can be taken to be a bit tongue in cheek: obviously, the existence of Tinder and Pinterest don’t cancel out the need to cultivate family and friends. But it’s also instructive to observe how many of the most well-known startups address deep-seated human needs.
The breakdown is as follows:
Level 1 needs (Food/Shelter) – Technology has made it easier than ever to access food and housing. This layer has all the startups in food tech and housing (temporary or long-term).
Level 2 needs (Safety/Security) – In today’s digital age, the threat of identity and data theft means that safety is synonymous with good online security. Protecting your sensitive information is as important as protecting yourself. These are startups in home security and cyber security.
Level 3 needs (Love/Belonging) – Meeting people and finding love has never been easier (theoretically), thanks to all the startups on this level.
Level 4 needs (Esteem/Reputation) – How will people know what you’ve accomplished if you don’t broadcast it to them? Who doesn’t at least idly track how many followers they’ve accumulated on social media? These are the startups involved with your online persona, social life, and reputation.
Level 5 needs (Self-Actualization) – These companies are trying to help you reach your full potential via life-coaching, productivity hacks, and brain training.
Want more data on startups in these spaces? Check out our venture capital database below.