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!
Tags: barcamp, Christine Lu, Dan Gould, Dan Martell, Dave McClure, Eric Ries, Founders Fund, Frank Yu, Geeks on a Plane, Georg Godula, Google President, James Gwertzman, Josh Williams, Joyce Kim, Kai Fu Lee, Kaiser Kuo, Kenji Kasahara, Marcus Nelson, Michael Su, PopCap, Steve Mushero, TEDxShanghai, The Great Wall, Tina Tran, Web2Asia