Day 2: NASA Ames & Borondi

On day 2 of this amazing trip, we headed to Mountain View, CA to visit Singularity University on the NASA Ames campus as well as Borondi Group,where we scrubbed through the deserted Maccas (McDonalds) and Bowling alleys to find an old rocket near the newly-acquired Google X hangar (which you can tweet @MoffettHangar1).

When we arrived at Singularity University, Pascal Finette, the head of Singularity lab gave us a great talk on what to look out for when we are starting a startup. There are quite a lot of points that he told us and all as important as the other.

The one that caught my attention the most are the two questions that he believes we should know the answer to as the head of a company.

What would you do if you had 10 times the resources you need?

What does it take to make the problem go away?

These are the questions that I have never really thought about beforehand and as Pascal mentions, once you can answer these questions, you would be able to pitch to the gods!

He also mentioned, Build a Solution – not a product. A great hint on how to succeed and ensure you (the disrupt-er) don’t get disrupted. This made me think of the mouse trap story I heard once. Many years ago, the traditional mouse trap was patented. Everyone knows this mouse trap, the one with the spring and the bar. Great – now we have a way to catch mice, but still over the years many, many more patents were granted for the mouse trap. These designs were better sure, either they were more humane or less gory, but what they didn’t realize…the problem had already been solved. They didn’t succeed for this very reason, and they wasted a huge amount of money trying to prove their point. This is why you must sell a solution to a problem the customer has – not just a product. Because a product can be disrupted (just as WhatsApp is doing over Skype) but a solution…well, a solution solves the problem!

This ties into another point of Pascals – you have to be 10x better. Maybe those mouse trap designs would have succeeded if they were 10x better, but an incremental improvement is mediocre…and mediocre is boring.

At Borondi Group, Adrian Turner spoke to us about the 15 unintended consequences resulting from a startup. Adrian Turner is an entrepreneur and one of the most valued experts in the mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) field. Adrian’s views were balancing to Pascal’s earlier, where Pascal’s were quite eccentric, Adrian’s took a more realistic view.

The 15 unintended consequences were Adrian’s main beliefs of what a startup would create. These are as such:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Design Renaissance
  3. Products seem magical
  4. Context is King
  5. Hello World Dave
  6. God servers rule
  7. Manufacturing/Consumption
  8. Risk & Reward
  9. Security drives revenue
  10. Co-ops multiply
  11. Art & Tech cross over to become magic
  12. The drone workforce
  13. The UN of things
  14. The controller of the network, owns the world
  15. Privacy is dead, long live transparency

Out of these, there are a couple that really caught our attention. Firstly, is the idea of a global world where manufacturing of hardware becomes closer to the user and services are being rendered from longer distances, such as a remote surgery where the surgeon and the patient could be at different parts of the world. As technology increases, this idea is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality.

The second is the fact that what makes a product now is when art and tech is combined it creates what people conceives as magic. As the technology improves and customers are used to the technology, it is not necessary just to have the technology but also to create an interactive platform for the users to utilize the technology.

As this interactivity between the humans and the technology expand, the amount of data has also increased exponentially. This amount of data has allowed us to create a more personal experience through technology. Technology is no longer aimed at the world as a whole but it is aimed to an individual as if being its sole user.

The most important thing that was stressed by both Pascal and Adrian was that we all need to learn how to think exponentially instead of linearly. He gave a great example of steps – if you take 30 linear steps, you might be out the door, but if you take 30 exponential steps, you are around the world 26 times. And this how technology grows, any successful technology grows in an exponential manner not a linear growth. This is very prevalent in what we are trying to do, be the best entrepreneurs we can be. Thus predicting the market in the way the market grows.

I hope to learn more throughout the rest of this trip so stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated!



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