Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

What Is a Geek?

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Every time I speak with someone about ‘Geeks on a Plane‘ (our worldwide tours to meet startups + geeks in lands afar), their first response is always “I love that name”. I’m not sure if they’re huge fans of Samuel L. Jackson (who isn’t, right?) or just fans of all things geeky, but we started to wonder what actually constitutes a geek.

During the latest ‘Geeks on a Plane’ voyage to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, we asked some pretty influential entrepreneurs – both locals and our travelers – what it really means to be a geek. Here’s what they had to say…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB5swhpuA2g

For those of you interested in upcoming GOAP tours:

  • ASIA > October 11-25: Tour stops in Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, & Hong Kong
    APPLY: Sorry, we’re at capacity. You can apply HERE for next year’s tour.
  • INDIA > December 8-20: Tour stops in Delhi, Mumbai, & Bangalore
    APPLY:
    Deadline is Wednesday, August 17th, HERE.
  •  

    If you’d like to get involved with GOAP as a host or sponsor, ping me (christen at 500 startups dot com)…we love making new friends.

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    Top Tech Connectors in Chile & Argentina: GOAP Organizers

    Thursday, June 16th, 2011

    Want to know how exciting Chile and Argentina are right now?

    From April 29th – May 8th, Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) toured Brazil, Chile and Argentina and had the extremely unique experience of connecting with other geeks throughout South America. Check out the video HERE.

    Along the way, we partnered with tech connectors on the ground who helped to organize events, rally the community, and support the GOAP mission: to connect geeks worldwide, share challenges and opportunities, and make new friends.

    Want to get hyper-connected in Chile & Argentina? Here’s who you need to ping…

    Tim Delhaes
    Director Americas, First Tuesday
    Santiago, Chile
    Find Tim on Facebook HERE
    @tim_delhaes

    What is your background and how did you end up in the world of entrepreneurship?
    My last “traditional” job was working as a surfing instructor on a small German island when I was 16. Even at the beach I could not tolerate having people ordering me around and telling me when to surf or not.
    What does a geek in Chile look like?
    Usually a broke musician or alcoholic comic artist.
    How has the face of entrepreneurship in Chile changed in the last 5-10 years?
    In an interview before his last concert, Bono – a self declared “Chile fan” – said that Chile´s exciting past is one of the things that brings U2 back every few years. But, he continued, more exciting than the past is the country´s future. The country has become “sexy”.
    Living in Chile for over 10 years, starting, busting and selling start-up´s has been a wild ride. We have shared this journey with many other entrepreneurs in Chile who have contributed to the transformation of Chile from a third world country with no translation for the word “venture capital” to an international brand with a vibrant and multinational economy.
    What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face in Chile?
    Chile is still lacking “entrepreneurial culture”. More competitive markets, faster iteration of ideas, more honesty and acceptance of failure are part of that. No matter how heavy your foot is on the gas, the traffic only lets you drive in first gear.
    What changes would you like to see in the startup ecosystem in Chile?
    While in Silicon Valley usually a lot of second rate ideas can evolve into multinationals, in Chile the few shitty ideas usually stay shitty ideas. Chile needs more networking events that allow for faster “street smart” learning as well as more innovation in financial instruments, specifically for the missing middle.
    What are the advantages to having a startup in Chile?
    It’s hard to beat the quality of life mixed with consistent economic growth and unbeatable sense of security. Go surfing, sailing, skiing, climbing, hiking or parachuting within one hour of the city without getting robbed, shot or living behind cement walls.
    What are some unmet needs that you think entrepreneurs should pursue in Chile?
    Want to make money? Go clone something.
    Want to innovate? Ask yourself what can you do in Chile that is hard to do somewhere else? What local industries exist that could use innovation? Where can you “pivot” with customers quickly?
    What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
    Timing is everything. You can be a great surfer but without waves you will paddle your ass off with no results. Once you have waves, its timing again: one second too late you won’t get the wave. One second too early you go over the falls.
    How can entrepreneurs in Chile get connected with the tech ecosystem there?
    Join us at firsttuesday.cl
    Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
    Laird Hamilton, apart from riding 60 foot waves and making it look like a walk in the park, invented tow surfing as foil boarding. Go out, Invent a sport.
    What do you love most about living in Chile? What is a MUST SEE for visitors?
    Leave the city, go surfing, sailing, skiing, climbing, hiking or parachuting. Give me a call to join in;)
    Describe your experience with Geeks on a Plane. Why does it matter to entrepreneurs there?
    Always put lifestyle – not work – first. There is no better thing than to make new friends, share a beer, wine or Pisco Sour. Trust is the base of all business. GOAP is a great example of that.

    Vanesa Kolodziej
    Founder, Palermo Valley
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Connect with Vanesa on Facebook HERE
    @Vanesak

    What is your background and how did you end up in the world of entrepreneurship?
    I finished high school at the Lester B Pearson United World College in Canada, with students from 80 countries from around the world and studied Political Science at San Andrés University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I also took some MBA classes at Babson College. San Andrés is an amazing institution, where I got not only a world-class education but it also introduced me to entrepreneurship. I was fortunate enough to study there with some of the best local entrepreneurs, who started their own businesses as soon as they graduated. So I followed and learned from them.
    What does a geek in Argentina look like?
    He or she definitely works in Palermo, is most probably a Mac user but could have both an iPhone and an Android phone at the same time, and has attended many Palermo Valley Nights. If the geek is a guy, he loves soccer (Futboll as we call it). If the geek is a girl, she will buy her clothes at the local design shops in the Palermo area.
    How has the face of entrepreneurship in Argentina changed in the last 5-10 years?
    Entrepreneurship has changed tremendously, thanks to the increase in ideas and technology transfer (due to the extended use of blogs, among many others), and the deep decrease of the cost to start a company. This was helped for a long period of time by a favorable dollars to peso exchange rate, where building companies locally was very cheap in dollar value. Nowadays more people are learning all they need online, then starting their businesses and gaining much traction with little investment. Also, the ecosystem has matured much and many successful entrepreneurs have become angel investors, helping and supporting a new batch of entrepreneurs.
    Which, in your opinion, are the 3 most successful tech startups in Argentina and why do they matter?
    Mercado Libre (www.mercadolibre.com) is the main e-commerce website of Latin America, present in 12 countries and having a presence in Nasdaq (MELI). It also offers one of the main payment platforms, Mercado Pago. Started in 1999 by Hernan Kazah and Marcos Galperin, then students at Stanford, it quickly grew to become one of the most successful companies in Lat Am.
    Globant (www.globant.com) is the main Argentinean software development house. Started in 2003, it has grown to have more than 2000 employees and global operations, having Google, LinkedIn, Disney and EA, among many others. It was stated by Martin Migoya (CEO), Guibert Englebienne (CTO), Nestor Nocetti (VP Innovation Labs) and Martin Umaran (COO).
    OLX (www.olx.com) is the main free classified provider in India, Portugal, Mexico and South America. Stated in Buenos Aires in 2006 by Fabrice Grinda (Co- CEO) and Alec Oxenford (Co- CEO), it has grown to be used in 96 countries and have classifieds in 40 languages.
    What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face in Argentina?
    There are many challenges, including the limited local market size and the lack of investment capital. What I consider to be the most important challenge also constitutes the base for the most important strength of Argentinean Entrepreneurs: the constant instability and rule changes, that has helped local entrepreneurs to develop a special stamina that prepared them to deal with uncertainty and chaos, a great core competence in today’s constantly changing world.
    What changes would you like to see in the startup ecosystem in Argentina?
    Argentina has amazingly creative entrepreneurs, who are always willing to give 100% for their projects in all areas. We need two things: first, to have more capital available for these entrepreneurs and their start ups. We need to have more investors, especially at the early stage level, who will be willing to risk their money in creative ideas. Second, we need to have more mentors: we need more experienced entrepreneurs transferring their knowledge and experience, and providing valuable recommendations.
    What are the advantages to having a startup in Buenos Aires?
    Buenos Aires is an amazing city to start a business. The human resources and the talent available are great. Also, there is a big entrepreneurial community, with events almost every week and much needed peer support. Finally, the city is so vibrant, so alive, that it is constantly providing entrepreneurs with new ideas and inspiration.
    What are some unmet needs that you think entrepreneurs should pursue in Argentina?
    There are many unmet needs, especially in the e-commerce area, as well as in the mobile and payments areas. Another sector that could dramatically benefit from clever entrepreneurial solutions are the problems of the bottom of the Pyramid consumers (those who live with less than 2 dollars a day), including education, transactions and media consumption, among many.
    What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
    I have many failures from which to obtain valuable learning. My latest one taught me a simple but very important lesson for all entrepreneurs: to ask what I wanted, if I don’t ask, I will never receive. But to ask, you need to have a clear idea of what you want. My lesson: decide what you want and ask for it! You will most probably get it.
    How can entrepreneurs in Buenos Aires get connected with the tech ecosystem there?
    The main local tech connector is Palermo Valley, a NGO that organizes networking events almost every month, for 500+ entrepreneurs and tech related people. I co-founded it 3 years ago: it started as a simple twitter message, and it has grown to a movement with similar events in over 50 cities in LatAm and the US. If you are in town, do not miss your opportunity to connect with the local community at a Palermo Valley event.
    You can also check Startup Digest Buenos Aires, which I co-curate, for the most updated tech events every week.
    Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
    I have an enormous admiration for the Mercado Libre co-founders, Marcos Galperin and Hernan Kazah. They have created one of the most amazing companies in Lat Am following simple but effective principles: great focus and impeccable execution. They have done what all entrepreneurs can only dream of: ringing the Nasdaq bell! And they are still incredibly approachable people, always willing to help the local entrepreneurs with advice and contacts.
    What do you love most about living in Buenos Aires? What is a MUST SEE for visitors?
    I love EVERYTHING! I love the super modern Puerto Madero where you can safely walk down its Rivera any time of the day and night, the design and chic stores in Palermo, the Boca Soccer stadium that looks like it’s alive each time the local team plays there, the coffee stores at any corner, the great bbq restaurants, the parks… Come to BA in November or December… you will fall in love with the city and its energy, I promise!
    Describe your experience with Geeks on a Plane. Why does it matter to entrepreneurs there?
    I had the most amazing experience with the GOAP group, and all of them seemed to have had a great experience in BA too! They had a chance to meet many local entrepreneurs and organizations, and have great fun also!
    It was a really important visit for our ecosystem too: it helped put Buenos Aires on the map for many people in Silicon Valley and other tech centers. Also, many entrepreneurs had a chance to exchange ideas, create new links and explore business opportunities. I hope GOAP South America becomes an annual trip!

    Other folks who helped us in Chile & Argentina include:

  • Alan Farcas – Organizer in Santiago and Managing Director, Endeavor Chile
  • Oskar Hjertonsson – Organizer in Santiago and Founder, Groupon Latin America
  • Endeavor.org – Many other folks at Endeavor Brazil, Chile, Argentina, & Global
  • For the awesome connectors in Brazil – check out this post HERE.
  • More info on Geeks on a Plane and upcoming trips to Asia and India can be found at www.geeksonaplane.com

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    Top Tech Connectors In Brazil:The GOAP Organizers

    Thursday, June 16th, 2011

    

    Want to know how exciting Brazil is right now?

    From April 29th – May 8th, Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) toured Brazil, Chile and Argentina and had the extremely unique experience of connecting with other geeks throughout South America. Check out the video HERE.

    Along the way, we partnered with tech connectors on the ground who helped to organize events, rally the community, and support the GOAP mission: to connect geeks worldwide, share challenges and opportunities, and make new friends.

    Want to get hyper-connected in Brazil? Here’s who you need to ping…

    Reinaldo Normand
    CEO & Co-Founder, 2Mundos
    Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Find Reinaldo on Facebook HERE
    @rnormand
    
    What is your background and how did you end up in the world of entrepreneurship?
    I started my first company at 19 when I worked at an Internet ISP in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. After that, I started 5 other companies in Brazil, the U.S., and China. Currently, I am based out of San Francisco with a social gaming company focused on Brazil.
    What does a geek in (your city) look like?
    A geek is a normal person but prefers wifi over beer.
    How has the face of entrepreneurship in Brazil changed in the last 5-10 years?
    In Brazil, until 2009, entrepreneurs were seen as losers. That is not the case anymore. Entrepreneurs are cool and they’re flocking all over.
    Which, in your opinion, are the 3 most successful tech startups in Brazil and why do they matter?
    Submarino, Buscapé and Peixe Urbano. Submarino was founded during the bubble and has spearheaded e-commerce in Brazil. Buscapé was the largest exit so far and Peixe Urbano leads the pack of Groupon clones, showing that execution is more important than branding.
    What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face in Brazil?
    Lack of experience, an open environment to share ideas and networking and lack of mentorship. Also, the legislation punishes those who want to start a company.
    What changes would you like to see in the startup ecosystem in Brazil?
    More interaction between Silicon Valley and Brazil. Changes in the labor laws, tax system and mindset of politicians to support startups.
    What are the advantages to having a startup in Brazil?
    1) The internal market is huge. 2) The hype Brazil is getting right now. 3) The unfulfilled opportunities.
    What are some unmet needs that you think entrepreneurs should pursue in Brazil?
    Mostly focus on the needs for the World Cup 2014 and the Olympic Games. These are the best opportunities for startups right now to get traction.
    What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
    I ran an internet portal in 1999 and was about to be acquired. I wasn’t prepared for the bubble burst that occurred in April 2000. After that, I was abandoned – I had no money left and was almost bankrupt. I needed to scale down and start from zero again. Timing is everything.
    How can entrepreneurs in Brazil get connected with the tech ecosystem there?
    Mostly through social networks and meetups organized by companies such as Brazil Innovators and universities.
    Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
    Carl Sagan. The man was ahead of his time, made very complex subjects looks simple and was bold enough to face the establishment with his beliefs. He was the first serious scientist to talk seriously about black holes, alien life and other dimensions.
    What do you love most about living in your city? What is a MUST SEE for visitors?
    I live in San Francisco now but in my hometown, Belo Horizonte, I recommend that people go to the happy hours that happen every day in the thousands of bars scattered around the city.
    Describe your experience with Geeks on a Plane. Why does it matter to entrepreneurs there?
    It is amazing how you meet awesome people that are really low profile and at the same time accomplished. I think the greatest effect of GOAP in a country such as Brazil is to raise awareness about entrepreneurship and bring the mentoring and experience of Silicon Valley folks to local entrepreneurs.

    Ricardo Normand
    Co-Founder, Perspeck
    Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Find him on Facebook HERE
    @rinormand

    What is your background and how did you end up in the world of entrepreneurship?
    I am a seasoned professional with a depth of experience in different industries, particularly dealing with venture capital investments in life sciences and IT, strategic planning and entrepreneurship. I have a solid educational background in different and complementary areas of knowledge, from biology to law, and IT & Finance. I have always had an entrepreneurial soul. My experience as a Seed Capital fund manager in tech companies brought me back to this amazing world of entrepreneurship – now as an entrepreneur!!
    What does a geek in Brazil look like?
    Looks like every Geek around the world, sometimes they are exotic, sometimes they look like ordinary people…
    How has the face of entrepreneurship in Brazil changed in the last 5-10 years?
    In Brazil, it has changed a lot in the last 5 years. We didn’t have an entrepreneurship culture in the past because we were a hyperinflation country, but now entrepreneurs are becoming more organized and are better than ever..
    Which, in your opinion, are the 3 most successful tech startups in Brazil and why do they matter?
    i. Sensedia (www.sensedia.com) a startup that is a spin-off from one of the most successful IT companies in Brazil (Ci&T). Sensedia has its own high-level tech entrepreneurs and started as a world class company – now based in Brazil and US.
    ii. Busca Pé (www.buscape.com.br) – probably the most successful startup in Brazil (the largest exit until now) that is still growing by acquisitions of many other tech startups – not so common in Brazil…
    iii. Deskmetrics (www.deskmetrics.com.br) – is the newest one, but a very promising startup nonetheless. They raised angel investor money from the beginning and are looking to reach the global market. They think big!
    What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face in Brazil?
    Our ecosystem is so young that is so difficult to start here: i. Because it is not easy to sell tech solutions to other companies in Brazil; ii. Our early stage investment structure is just starting to increase now; and iii. Brazil has one of highest tax-to-GDP rates in the world, over 35% and taxes are so numerous and complicated that it encourages informality (hence, tax evasion), discouraging innovation.
    What changes would you like to see in the startup ecosystem in Brazil?
    i. To have more investors looking for early stage and startup companies (angel investors, VC’s, etc); ii. To have a specific legal system (taxes) for tech startup companies; and iii. More international investors looking and investing in opportunities here – they can help to quickly change our ecosystem.
    What are the advantages to having a startup in Brazil?
    Nowadays, Brazil has a larger market than ever and the country is more stable. Furthermore we are a very “social country” and we have creative people – a nice place for all kinds of social apps development.
    What are some unmet needs that you think entrepreneurs should pursue in Brazil?
    Most of our entrepreneurs are 1st time entrepreneurs. So, they need to learn more about how to build a business (and make money). A great place for accelerators in my opinion…
    What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
    As manager of the 1st seed capital fund in Brazil I didn’t realize that most of our entrepreneurs had no understanding about venture capital and the startup process. We had some amazing tech solutions in our portfolio, but usually the entrepreneurs didn’t realize how to make a successful company. Some nice companies died during this period… We have to help our entrepreneurs in many ways and work hands-on inside the companies.
    How can entrepreneurs in Brazil get connected with the tech ecosystem there?
    Nowadays they have been more organized. We have a lot of initiatives of startup meeting all around the country, but the investors’ community has to participate more in these kinds of events to help the ecosystem mature quickly.
    Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
    Pitch Johnson from Asset Management Company – he showed me that it is possible to change and create an ecosystem. You just have to be connected to the right people and work hard. You will have success if you are persistent in what you believe.
    What do you love most about living in your city? What is a MUST SEE for visitors?
    Belo Horizonte-MG (Brazil) is one of the most important cities after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but a better place to live IMHO. All visitors have to visit our historical cities around here – baroque architecture.
    Describe your experience with Geeks on a Plane. Why does it matter to entrepreneurs there?
    It was an awesome experience to be able to connect with a large and diversified group of people (geeks, entrepreneurs, VC’s and investors). After the 1st group from Silicon Valley that we brought in November, 2010 to be connected with the entrepreneur community all around the world, Silicon Valley will help us put Brazil on the map of potential opportunities.

    Veronica Serra
    Founding Partner, Pacific Investimentos
    Sao Paulo, Brazil

    What is your background and how did you end up in the world of entrepreneurship?
    I’m a private equity investor but have been investing my own capital in early stage companies for more than a decade. I am also part of endeavor.org which supports entrepreneurs
    What does a geek in Brazil look like?
    Like anywhere else
    How has the face of entrepreneurship in Brazil changed in the last 5-10 years?
    Entrepreneurship has grown to be recognized, and despite all challenges, today there is more access to capital.
    Which, in your opinion, are the 3 most successful tech startups in Brazil and why do they matter?
    1. Mercado Libre – a regional success with its largest operation in Brazil. Has been the consolidator in its market, helped many smaller retailers access the e-tail market and is a pioneer on secure payments
    2. Buscapé: successful, gained scale and helps everyone buy better online
    3. Zaz – a pioneer at its time, acquired later by Terra (Telefonica)
    What is the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face in Brazil?
    There are challenges with the complex tax and labor system, high interest rates and poor infrastructure
    What changes would you like to see in the startup ecosystem in Brazil?
    - On the entrepreneur side: more down to earth expectations on valuation, more informed about standard investment terms and governance
    - On the buyer side: large corporations being more open to doing business with tech start-ups
    - On the press – more coverage on the sector
    What are the advantages to having a startup in Brazil?
    São Paulo – largest consumer market in Brazil, qualified workforce, large corporate customers – all in one huge city
    What are some unmet needs that you think entrepreneurs should pursue in Brazil?
    Mobile applications, security applications that work, technologies that serve classes C & D
    What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
    Early on, trusting people who did not deserve it
    How can entrepreneurs in Brazil get connected with the tech ecosystem there?
    Being open and reaching out to other entrepreneurs, angel investors and endeavor.org
    Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
    Various entrepreneurs who are resilient, think big, work hard and built amazing businesses, some of them global
    What do you love most about living in your city? What is a MUST SEE for visitors?
    The diversity and energy. A must see? The great restaurants and art galleries on week days, and the gorgeous beaches on the seaside during the weekends
    Describe your experience with Geeks on a Plane. Why does it matter to entrepreneurs there?
    I was intro’d by Wences Casares, and helped organize a day of visits in São Paulo, later hosting everyone for a dinner at my place. Interesting to meet people involved with innovation in a variety of ways.

    Other folks who helped us in Brazil include:

    More info on Geeks on a Plane and upcoming trips to Asia and India can be found at www.geeksonaplane.com

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    Mayor Surprise

    Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

    This is a guest post written by Reinaldo Normand, founder of 2Mundos, who co-resides in Brazil and San Francisco. Reinaldo is one of the organizers for the Rio de Janeiro stop of GOAP. GOAP has just confirmed that Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, will be meeting with us during the trip.

    One of the most astonishing surprises in my trip to Brazil was the meeting with the  Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes. I expected a political meeting full of euphemisms and indirect talks but what we saw was a businessman extremely prepared and sharp. No BS was allowed and he (and his team) was extremely fluent in english and business oriented, breaking a tradition of brazilian politicians who talk much but don’t do anything.

    Mayor Paes, which I knew little about before this meeting, scored many points and earned my respect. Watch out for his candidacy to president in 8 years. Also, judging for what I saw in RJ, his is doing a great job of restoring the city to its former glory.

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    Brazil: The Country of the Future?

    Friday, March 25th, 2011

    This is a guest post written by Reinaldo Normand, founder of 2Mundos, who co-resides in Brazil and San Francisco. Reinaldo is one of the organizers for the Rio de Janeiro stop of GOAP.

    Brazil is the country of the future! This was the mantra of most Brazilians in the late 60′s and early 70′s. The country had all the ingredients to fulfill the prophecy: Creative, young and large population, good educational system, a huge and productive land for agriculture, lots of commodities (grains, minerals, water), a very early industrialization (compared to China, Russia and India) and so on. Each year was full of optimism and expectation but Brazil kept failing one government after another. The problem was either the size of the indebtedness or the inflation.

    So, after 30 years of promises, has Brazil really matured and delivered? Well, not exactly. After this last trip, I am convinced that very deep changes are occurring inside the country and most importantly, inside the minds of people. The tamed inflation, a rational macro-economic policy, a big internal market and the boom of commodities driven by China are definitely putting Brazil in the right spot, even though they’re masking the underlying structural problems that we have known for quite some time. Very serious reforms need to be done and the next ten years will tell if we want to join the wannabe first world countries such as Chile, South Korea and China, or the likes of Venezuela, Greece or Argentina.

    These are, IMHO, the reforms that need to happen by 2020 so Brazil can really prosper:

    Education – Current level of education in terms of time dedicated to school and de-facto knowledge about basic sciences is one of the worst in the world. If radical changes are not implemented by the federal government in the next five years, Brazil will waste a generation of young people and lack the skill-force to maintain the country afloat by 2020-2050. Universities are also really behind their counterparts in Russia, China or India. They are becoming anachronistic and irrelevant. Brazil now graduates more lawyers than the USA and more doctors than western europe. Something is broken in the system.

    Vision - Brazilians suffer from a complex of inferiority and lack of vision about the future. Airports are planned for the next five years, not the next fifty. Roads last one year, so corruption can maintain the business of “maintenance”. There are no incentives to stop the brain drain or to stimulate the expatriates to come back. Politicians continue to add taxes to finance their incompetence.

    If this narrow minded and colonial mindset persists, there is no hope. Again, good and modern methods of education are the only way to change the whole picture. And we need a leader to show the way. Even so, it will take a generation or two.

    Infrastructure – Living in China for more than a year, I believe I know a thing or two about infrastructure. China was way less developed and industrialized than Brazil in the 80′s. In 2010, we can’t really compare chinese and brazilian infrastructure. The difference is in the order of magnitude of 10x and growing. In China most towns in the richer provinces have the basic sewage services, asphalt, energy, airports, telecommunications. And the work continues in order to support the country in the next fifty years. China is building the largest high-speed railway network in the whole world: astonishing 9,000 miles in just ten years! It has the largest ports, the largest dams, the largest renewable energy investment, etc.

    Brazil lacks almost everything. The result is that making or exporting any product in Brazil is costlier due to the bad shape of the infrastructure. The only hope is that the Olympic Games and the World cup advance the chaotic state of the infrastructure, starting with the airports and roads. If Brazil misses this opportunity, nothing else matters.

    Tax system – No country can develop and become a superpower with a tax system so complex and unfair as Brazil’s. A developing country that pays 38% of its GDP in taxes has something very out of tune. Brazil needs to tax the consumption not the productivity of its people and companies. For instance, in 2010, a company employing a software engineer pays 80-100% of its nominal salary in taxes. So if someone makes USD 10,000 a month, the company pays around USD 18,000-20,000 (depending on the benefits such as healthcare). Now, due to the devaluation of the dollar, It is cheaper to hire software engineers in Canada.

    Justice – Brazil’s legal system is a mix of chaos, anarchy and subjectivity. Ask any foreigner doing business in Brazil and they’ll tell you hairy stories about the litigation process and the slowness of the judiciary power. Sometimes a lawsuit takes twenty years to settle! The sensation of impunity doesn’t help the criminals and the impostors who love to fool and steal new investors and companies. Although a lot of people like to brag about the safe jurisdiction in Brazil compared to the likes of Russia and China, which is entirely true, it is still very far away from an efficient system.

    It is not because lack of laws. Brazil has some of the strictest and best laws in the world, for everything. The problem is always centered in the infinite number of appeals that rich lawyers file to explore the weaknesses of the system. That overwhelms judges, lawyers and the state, creating a market for unscrupulous intermediaries and for corruption to flourish. IMHO, this is the most difficult task to tackle in the years to come because the class of lawyers and judges is very sensitive to any changes on what they perceive to be their “feud”.

    Needless to say, and to end this post, all the above are only possible through a reform in the political system. We need better leaders.

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    GeeksOnaPlane East Asia 2010 (videos)

    Saturday, February 5th, 2011

    Here are four great videos from our GeeksOnaPlane tour of East Asia, 2010:

    Christine Lu, Shanghai

    Kris Krug, Beijing

    Francine Hardaway, Korea

    Dave McClure, Singapore

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    GeeksOnaPlane Asia 2010 Kickoff in Shanghai

    Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

    The GeeksOnaPlane East Asia 2010 tour took off from San Francisco on Friday afternoon, with 16 geeks in tow. After a brief layover in Korea at Incheon International Airport (thx Asiana Airlines for the red carpet treatment at the business lounge), we arrived in Shanghai at Pudong Airport on Saturday evening. We then quickly became GeeksOnaBus, as we piled into our shuttle and drove over to the Courtyard Marriott Shanghai Xiujiahui to meet the rest of our #goap crew… now over 40 geeks strong!

    GeeksOnaPlane Shanghai (May 2010)

    Sunday morning all of the geeks met in the lobby to prepare for a big day at Shanghai World Expo. A few of us broke off from the main group to attempt a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also happened to be in Shanghai at the same time (we think she was stalking us, but we decided to play it cool). We were in luck — HRC adjusted her busy schedule to give us a few minutes for a photo opp, as well as the chance to pitch her on the StartupVisa Movement (which she thought was a great idea). In addition to Sec. Clinton, we also got to meet US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr and US Consul General of Shanghai Beatrice Camp.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton & GoaP

    After chasing down half the US State Department, we joined the rest of the geeks for an “East Meets West” blogger meet up at the Expo USA Pavilion, where more than 60 nerds from the USA and China got together to tweet, blog, and photograph each other into infinity and beyond. The GoaP crew then disbursed itself into multiple groups throughout the expo to checkout multiple country pavilions, and many of us also took a stroll along The Bund, overlooking the Huangpu River.

    After a long day of walking all over Shanghai, the entire 60-geek strong crew re-assembled for dinner at Table No.1, a trendy new restaurant that just opened at the Waterhouse Hotel. Dinner was absolutely fabulous, and everyone had a wonderful time (clearly evidenced in the photo above taken by Kris Krug).

    Next up tomorrow: ReThink Shanghai !!!

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    The New Entrepreneurship (Eric Ries, The Lean Startup)

    Saturday, May 8th, 2010

    Short video clip by Eric Ries on “The New Entrepreneurship“:

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    GeeksOnaPlane December 2009 – Tokyo

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    The GoaP crew just landed in Tokyo yesterday and here are some events we will be going to for the week:

    GeeksOnaPlane Tokyo Winter 2009

    Come join us if you are in the area and get in touch @davemcclure or @cmccann7

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    Summary GeeksOnaPlane Hawaii 2009 (aka ReThink Hawaii)

    Sunday, November 8th, 2009

    GeeksOnaPlane Hawaii, aka RethinkHawaii.com
    (Nov 1-5, 2009: Honolulu, Hawaii)

    GeeksOnaPlane HawaiiRethinkHawaii

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