Monday, September 28th, 2009
While traveling on a 4-hour journey from Berlin to Prague, we had a lot of down time to think, write, talk, read and listen to music. Inspired by my book, White Tiger and the Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D. album, I consistently found myself thinking about how grateful I am to be healthy, happy and part of the GOAP family. I am grateful for GOAP.
This trip has offered a lot of eye-opening experiences and learnings. The ones that stand out the most include:
1.) Never underestimate the power of “adapting”: You’re traveling around Europe for over 2 weeks, it’s important to keep it cool, adapt to the diversity of personalities and characters on the trip and enjoy people. This will make it easier for people to connect, understand each other and develop flexibility throughout the journey.
2.) Less is more. This is important however you interpret the statement. Less is more when it comes to luggage, conversing, being “that American traveler,” bringing boat-loads of money, spending that money on unnecessary souvenirs that your friends and family will throw away eventually.
3.) Down time is important. It is crucial that everyone take time out of each day to have their own “quiet time”. This time will help you reflect on the day’s activities, learnings, experiences and also think about what you miss from back home, what you’re grateful for, your family/friends, etc.
4.) Keep the curiosity going from the moment you land to the moment you leave. Be very curious. As much as I love GOAP for allowing me to learn about the tech industries throughout various cities in Europe, it has, more importantly, enabled me to learn about new cultures, see new places, meet new people – opening eyes to creating connections on a global level and providing a platform for us to serve as “ambassadors” for the tech community, abroad. The power to change the world through social influence, social good and social entrepreneurship is upon us. We can only create a massive impact if we continue to be curious, learn and grow with our brothers and sisters around the world.
5.) The DMC Factor. I had to add this to my list because I’ve had some time to observe a certain character, Dave McClure, throughout the Geeks on a Plane Asia and Europe trips, and I’ve got to give some props. He’s a flip-flop sportin’, casual person, proud of his risk-taking abilities, his witty story-telling and geeky/x-rated jokes (not sure how those can mesh, but somehow he pulls it off). Nevertheless, Dave McClure continues to be our teacher, a stellar entrepreneur, investor, presenter and that “smart guy that everyone wants to know”. I truly appreciate the opportunity he has provided me by exposing me to the Geeks on a Plane excursion. The connections that I’ve made, information that I’ve collected and ideas that have been shared or generated make every second of this trip worthwhile. Thanks Dave.
Friday, September 18th, 2009
On a beautiful day in DC, the GeeksOnaPlane crew hoofed it over to the GovTech Meetup at the EEOB with the White House Digital Media Group and the State Department Technology Innovation Team. The presenters included innovative technologists and policy makers discussing how government affects technology today and in the future.
The presenters included:
Evan Cooke, co-founder and CTO of Twilio talked about building web applications that interact with phone callers. He provided a demo where he mashed up a service to ping him about local flu prevention centers in the DC area. The crowd was wow’ed. Twilio lets you use your existing web development skills, existing code, existing servers, existing databases and existing karma to solve real-time communications problems quickly and reliably. His presentation is below:
Eric Ries, former co-founder of IMVU discussed “Lessons Learned” from building tech start-ups failing and succeeding. The focus of the presentation was that most start-ups fail – in order to realize how an entrepreneur can correct its mistakes, he/she needs to understand failure, its pivot point, that speed counts – lean startups go faster, and platforms enable leverage. Eric’s presentation is below:
Kay Luo, representing LinkedIn discussed the power of social media within the Government 2.0 sector. She provided examples of LinkedIn profile pages of high level diplomats, including President Barack Obama’s LinkedIn profile, and discussed how very closed societies can leverage this type of new media platform to communicate and promote the initiatives and projects that they’re working on and more importantly, as a digital rolodex to gather resources.
John Anderson, co-founder of Cash.IO discussed the platform providing mobile solutions for payment systems. An interactive gift corporation, Cash.IO helps businesses send money to consumers in a safe and secure manner. He mentioned that in less than three weeks, Cash.IO has live partners, customers and the only way they could’ve pulled this off is by relocating from Wisconsin to Silicon Valley. His presentation is below:
Shervin Pishevar, CEO and co-founder of SGN, provided a product demo of F.A.S.T., SGN’s recently launched dogfighting accelerometer game. He discussed how global development starts with innovation and technology and noted that SGN has built offices in Argentina, Beijing and now Vietnam for that very reason. Development around the globe will provide an opportunity for people to join forces on a technological and entrepreneurial level, creating peace, incubation support, funding resources and overall opportunities. This will also be an opportunity to help the global economies as well as promote localization around the world. Here is the SGN video Shervin showed off:
Leonard Speiser, serial entrepreneur and innovator and founder of Twables.com, discussed how he built 12 Twitter-related products in 90 days. Some of the products he created revolved around self expression, games, connecting on Facebook to find people on Twitter. Public Stream Optimization or PSO is not replacing SEO, but is very important because it will continue to grow and become an extremely valuable metric.
Leonard’s presentation is below:
Adam Conner from Facebook noted that the issue with working with the government is that it is a closed environment. Getting the government comfortable with the idea of 1.0 and 2.0 – legal, security process, agencies getting on Facebook groups and fan pages – is not easy. The first step to fixing this issue can be addressed by using the ladder of engagement – This will allow new media specialists to continue innovating and moving forward in the White House.
Greg Cypes, technical lead for Open AIM, AOL Messaging explained the difference between asynchronous and synchronous communication. AIM is still utilized quite frequently within the government 2.0 space, not just for one to one communications, but also one to many – it’s a way to broadcast, real-time.
Dave McClure of FoundersFund rounded out the event by providing an overview of the current startup ecosystem and examples of how startups fail and succeed, efficient uses of capital, and how to handle high startup failure rates. He noted that ~30% of startups in the fbFund REV Social Incubator program will likely secure a future round of funding, or have achieved break-even. Other notable incubator programs that he mentioned include: YCombinator, TechStars, SeedCamp, LaunchBox, and Betaworks. Dave’s presentation is below:
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
By Tina Tran
Photos by: Adriana Gascoigne, Dave McClure, Christine Lu, Michael Su and Tina Tran
Now that the jetlag has worn off, I am left in awe of how spectacularly successful and rewarding the Geeks on a Plane tour was. Not only did we gain in depth knowledge of the tech environment in China and Japan, we connected with leading experts from the top startups across the hottest industries (i.e. games, social media, and search). The sheer number and caliber of local contacts we made was almost overwhelming. Had we traveled as individuals to Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo, it would have taken at least six months to a year to form the bonds and connections that we did in ten days.
As if meeting the most talented locals wasnâ€™t enough, the tour itself was packed with an impressive group of passionate, whip-smart entrepreneurial geeks who also happened to be loads of fun. Or as one of the speakers put it, “You guys do not look like a bunch of geeks to me!” He may have been referring to the resident male Blue Steel models in our group, Dan Martell and Marcus Nelson. Or perhaps he caught an eyeful of the two most fashionable geeks on the tour, Dan ‘hiked the Great Wall in pointy leather boots’ Gould and Josh Travolta Williams.
I can not emphasize enough what an amazing job the Geeks on a Plane organizers did in selecting participants for the tour, and in thinking of every detail while planning a trip that allowed us to meet the leading startups in China and Japan through a mix of events that were insightful, inspiring, and super fun. Dave McClure of the Founders Fund, Georg Godula of Web2Asia, and Christine Lu of Cilantro Media are superstar organizers and people connectors!
In the list below, I have broken down my top ten favorite experiences from the Geeks on a Plane tour into two Top 5 lists — one for the sessions and one for the local outings.
Top 5 Sessions
5. BarCamp Shanghai — James Gwertzman gave a great overview of PopCap’s strategic entry into China
4. Tokyo StartonomicsÂ — Two words: Eric Ries. Plus Joyce Kim and Dan Gould.
3. Brunch interview with Mixi CEO, Kenji Kasahara
2. TEDxShanghai – Inspiration through music and ideas worth sharing
1. Beijing Startonomics From Dr. Kai Fu Lee, president of Google China, to Kaiser Kuo, Frank Yu, and Steve Mushero, this session was chockfull of valuable insights about doing business in China and what it takes to succeed in this rapidly growing market for startups.
Top 5 Fun Outings
5. Geeks in a Bus — All over Shanghai and Beijing
4. Geeks on an Observation Deck — Shanghai World Financial Center
3. Geeks in a Photo Booth — Fitting 8 geeks into one photo booth atop Tokyo
2. Geeks on the Dance Floor — Dance off at M1NT on the last night of the GoaP tour
1. Geeks on a Wall — Hiking the Great Wall of China (“I remember you!!”)
Honorable mention: Geeks in an Airport — Marcus Nelson nearly gets hauled off by airport security while acting as my coke mule/extra baggage handler in Tokyo.Â Oops.
Finally, this roundup wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the one geek on the tour who made the biggest splash of all: Michael Su of Break Media.Â Michael (pictured above on the bottom right) joined the tour on the China portion of our trip, flying directly from LAX to Beijing. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of sitting two rows in front of a person who had the Swine Flu. The good news is that we were able to spend two days with him before the Chinese authorities found him and took him away.Â Good luck and bad luck I suppose, the two days he was with us, in my opinion, were the best days on the tour — both earning #1 spots above. Coincidence? I think not. Check out his HILARIOUS blogpost on”Life in the Big House” here. For the record, he did not have the Swine Flu!
Sunday, June 14th, 2009
By Tina Tran
After an amazing hike up the Great Wall and a walking tour of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, we closed out the last day of our Beijing trip with a Startu2Startup dinner.
Startup2Startup is a networking event where entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to pitch their startup to potential investors and get feedback from a panel of investing experts. Dave McClure of the Founders Fund, Joyce Kim of Soompi, and Jui Tan of BlueRun Ventures provided tips to three entrepreneurs who each gave pitches lasting thirty seconds, two minutes, and five minutes.
Before the pitching commenced, Dave gave a lively, no-holds-barred presentation that emphasized how entrepreneurs should pitch the problem, not the solution. Â Check out Dave’s must-see presentation below.