Full disclosure: The #Techsexy vibe was wearing off a bit by the second day of Startupism – maybe that’s just the nature of the conference-going beast, or maybe the panel discussions weren’t as applicable to my business as the ones on the first day (it didn’t help that by the afternoon, more people – mostly students- were hanging outside the speaker hall than inside, and you could hear them and the DJ-fueled acid jazz rather embarrassingly over the dry discussions).
On the upside, Day 2′s keynote speaker Steve Jurvetson didn’t disappoint. Speaking a mile an hour and with more highfalutin’ terms per sentence than I use in a month, Steve unveiled the Future with a capital F. His bets on space travel, biotechnology, and the evolution of the automobile were inspiring and all around mind blowing. Among the intellectual breadcrumbs he dropped:
- We are definitely not the only intelligent life forms in the universe. The only question is when we will encounter one that has conquered space-faring better than us. At which time we might make great pets for this assumedly superior race.
- Every automobile is going to be electric within the next couple of generations. Period. China already has a fleet of over 150 million electric vehicles in the form of mopeds. Total cost of ownership of these mopeds is less than the cost of traveling by bus.
- Within the next couple of years it will be possible to have your entire genome mapped for between $100-$1,000. Anyone ever see GATTACA? Yeah, like that.
- The challenge of all this technology and disruption is how to balance innovation with the vast majority of humans who are happy in the status quo. How do we engage those who don’t think innovation is good – in fact, who think it is evil? Are we heading toward a new Intellectual Elitism where those who “get it” (i.e. engage with technology, embrace disruption, encourage change) start to alienate and threaten those who don’t (and who, as a result of not embracing change, don’t see the economic benefit that the other half does)?
Lots of heady questions for sure. I’m sure many attendees will be mulling these over with a friend and a big bag of Cheetos on April 20.
Now, on to more practical matters… Thecommich also had some great interactions and sneak peeks into awesome apps:
Ketan Anjaria showed off CardFlick, which allows you to design and share your own mobile business cards. Super bonus: sent over email, the business cards have built in analytics that let you track which people click onto your website from your card. The perfect app for serious networkers or uber-competitive sales reps.
Paul Hoeper tempted me to leave my bookkeeper with Invoice ASAP, a total billing and invoicing package that syncs seamlessly with Quickbooks for only $10/month and is fully controllable via mobile. My small business self was rejoicing. BNI members, did you hear me??
Annie Phan of Gimmieworld rewards people for playing games. The virtual points can be used to buy sweet retail goods like travel pillows, women’s accessories and more. One of their most popular games, Peterpog, is inspired by the cartoon art of Hayao Miyazaki. Triple tight.
All in all it was a great 2 days of learning. My only wish is that the Startup Death Match (modeled after the Shark Tank TV series and more seriously, the Kieretsu forum) was better thought out. Some participants were obviously, painfully out of their league and didn’t seem to take the proceedings seriously (“I don’t really like Powerpoint presentations, so I’m just going to login to my Facebook and explain my app from there…. oops, I just realized I changed my password, hehe, sorry…. OK, here’s my product. It’s just like Pandora.” REALLY???).
Great job by Hult International Business School for putting this together. I’m looking forward to the next one.