In Search Of People Who Dent the World!
One of the big goals I have for this trip is to introduce the kids to companies and people around the globe who have the potential to change the world. I realize this would have been easier to accomplish in a week in Silicon Valley. If I could get my contacts at Google, FB, Twitter, and Yahoo, to give us the tour, it would blow my kids’ minds. There is so much that goes into so many parts of products they use every day, and understanding how they come about is important. I wish I could take them back in time and give them tours of Google in 2002, FB in 2007, Yahoo before the the kids were born, and Twitter 2010. I can think of a few other companies I visited during their coming out period, and it has always been a fabulous experience. When the energy, the optimism, the pressure are all spiking you feel the world changing as they move their code from their dev servers to their production servers (tech terms for “going live.”)
However, I don’t have a time machine; Silicon Valley is not on our itinerary this trip, and I suspect world-changing companies are going to be more dispersed in the coming decades. With that idea in mind, I am taking my kids to see great companies around the world. I will use my contacts when I have them, but I also may (or will) ask for connections in tech centers with which I am not familiar.
We began this part of the adventure by visiting SpaceX; the first private space company to shuttle supplies back and forth to the space station. A connection through the hyper connector Azat Aslanyan, Brian Lin offered to give us a walking tour. It was fabulous. It was 6:30 p.m. and the place was extremely busy – a sign of a company that thinks they will change the world. We saw the capsules that launch and return, the giant fuselages, the 3D metal printers that create precision parts, the engine which cools itself, new self pressurizing space suits, and hundreds of people needed to make every single flight a success. It was an inspiring company. Their space dance card is full, and they have a model to make money, which is good for an enterprise, which has said it will not go public until it has gone to Mars.
I was a little worried about finding contacts in Chile. Providence stepped in. I hired a Spanish-speaking researcher in Croatia to do a deep dive for me about the Chilean market. She was an excellent researcher and prepared a 5-page paper about the Chilean tech world. She did a thorough job and laid out much of what had happened over the last few years in Chile. She gave me a couple of names. So you understand the infinitesimally small world we live in, she gave me the names of people her mom worked with when her mom was in Chile. What? In what world do you hire someone in Croatia for minimum wage to do complicated research on Chile in Spanish and have them come back with personal contacts in Chile? Providence is not happy with me because I did not reach out to them. Instead, I followed up with contacts from a friend who connected us with a great security company in Santiago called Prey. Their software allows you to find your phones or computers wherever they are. My friend also connected us with Startup Chile, which was a great experience. They bring in 100 entrepreneurs from around the world and help them get started. Some stay in Chile and some return to their countries. Either way, it creates a powerful vibe and a knowledge sharing base. It was a good second stop on our great companies of the future tour.
Our next spot is Buenos Aires, and I have one tech contact there. But I am going to ask, If anyone is working with some great companies in BA or have great tech contacts, please let me know. We would love to visit them. The same goes for other potential tech hotbeds I hope to visit as part of this trip:
Buenos Aires – February
Tel Aviv – February
Barcelona – March
Lisbon – March
Berlin – April
Copenhagen – April
Stockholm – May
Talim – May
Moscow – June
Beijing – June
One or two more in Asia – July and Aug (leaning toward the Philipines to join an Operation Smile mission)
In each of these places, we will isolate a day or 2 or 3 and schedule visits. The kids might be a little bored by product demos, but they enjoy meeting new people and learning about the start-up world.
If this is successful, they will all come away with an understanding that an entrepreneur doesn’t create a company so they can go on Shark Tank. They do it because they think it can make a dent in the world. The whole family loves Shark Tank, but how much better will we be if we better understand all that goes into making a great company and the risks and rewards associated with it.
If you don’t have my email, reach out to me on the blog, and I will send it. Hopefully engaging the 200 Days Away audience is one way to make this an even better trip.