After an action-packed first day in Bangalore, my epic Geeks On A Plane (GOAP) journey continues as we start our day with an invitation from Dave McClure to meet him by the pool for breakfast.
Just a few days ago, I was listening to Tony Hsieh at ‘Start-up City: Miami‘ talking about how the key to success and innovation is “social collisions.” I couldn’t help to think that GOAP has mastered that on a mobile and global scale. I’m 8,000 thousand miles from home, it still hasn’t set in that I’m across the globe in India and I have the most incredible day ahead of me starting out at GE’s Research Center.
GE – Imagination at Work
On my way to GE, I spoke with Andrea Zurek, Founding Partner of XG Ventures, and previously with Google for 7 years. She has been named one of the top 25 tech angels by Business Week and has invested in 45 companies with 14 exits, including companies such as Aardvark, Crocdoc and Posterous. Andrea who was doing her 3rd GOAP tour told me about some different angel investment trends and how much she had learned from other Geeks on the trips. The amazing part about GOAP is that the rides to and from the different start-ups we visit are just as interesting because you get time to connect with others on the trip.
When we arrived at the GE John F Welch Technology Center (GE JFWTC), it was like we had arrived at the gates of innovation heaven. GE JFWTC employs over four thousand of India’s best technologists. They have contributed to over 1,850 patents and are developing solutions in energy, healthcare and transportation. The 50 acre campus is where GE solves the world’s toughest problems.
Although I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures, I had to break the rules just once and capture a picture of Dave GEeking out. We were greeted by Dr. Mano Manoharan, General Manager of Global Research, who gave us the lay of the land. GE has such a responsible business centric approach, being first isn’t as important to them, GE doesn’t mind getting in a bit later in the game as long as they make the best product. GE is the only company from the original 30 Dow companies. “When it comes to manufacturing jet engines it’s not like software, Microsoft has the luxury of restarting, we don’t” said Dr. Manoharan.
After GE, we made our way to FlipKart.com. As we traveled back into the city, just looking at the surroundings, it’s a real eye-opener and it makes you feel grateful for the simple things in life that we take for granted.
FlipKart.com was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal in 2007 and is India’s largest online retailer, the equivalent of Amazon.com in the U.S. Flipkart.com employs over 4,500 people and had approximately $218 million in revenue (USD) in 2012.
Sachin said that his biggest challenge in growing Flipkart.com was that the ecosystem wasn’t available to support the need. There was a tremendous amount of infrastructure that was required to get FlipKart.com off the ground from suppliers, logistical partners to payment systems processors. With only 0.02% of the retail penetration, Sachin said he has no immediate plans to expand outside of India.
Our next stop was at Embrace Global, which is a non-profit organization run by a group of students who graduated from the Entrepreneurial Design For Extreme Affordability program at Stanford University and developed the concept of low-cost incubators to prevent neonatal deaths in rural areas in developing countries.
What I thought was most interesting about our visit to Embrace was the fact that both GE and Embrace shared the same challenges of production in India: cost and electrical grid. The product had to be affordable but also continue to work on an unstable power grid.
Startup Weekend Bangalore
After our trip to embrace, we stopped by the Microsoft Bangalore office to kick off StartupWeekend. StartupWeekend is a non-profit event that started in Seattle and spread across the world. The event is held over the weekend during which developers, startup enthusiasts and graphic artists pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop working prototypes/demos by Sunday.
Dave McClure kicked off the night with a jolt and certainly woke everyone up. It looks like this StartupWeekend is going to be very exciting for the many geeks participating from India. Dave encouraged the group to get emotional and tap that power in order to crush your startup pitch!
After the kickoff event, we all had dinner together and discussed a lot of interesting things about entrepreneurship in India and the United States.
BOALT ‘Geeks On A Plane’ India 2013 Blog Series:
- Geeks On A Plane: Overview
- Geeks On A Plane: India 2013 KickOff
- Geeks On A Plane: Bangalore
- Geeks On A Plane: StartupWeekend
- Geeks On A Plane: Mumbai
- Geeks On A Plane: India 2013 WrapUp