I was one of the fortunate five who were selected as the five winners of Action for India fellowship for the Silicon Valley Trek challenge held in New Delhi this January. Finally we started our journey and landed on 14th October. I came a day early thinking jet lag might hit me, but it did not show up despite having a 16 hrs non-stop flight from Dubai to SanFrancisco.
I spend the first day with my school friend, Sunil, and enjoyed drive in this Tesla (one of my favourite company).
Later we went to Computer Museum and along with all the great collection of the history of computers. I wish they had something on Pingala contribution to binary numbers. There I was surprised to see the integrator, which I had only heard of (seen image) used to compute section areas of ships.
We had a mini get together with another classmate from school, Lavanya, in a coffeeshop.
Day 1 – 15 October (Sunday)
- Joy Thomas – a great host along with his wife Priya. We had an interesting evening explaining our venture to some smart people in the valley and got some interesting feedback.
Day 2 – 16 October (Monday)
- Raj Jaswa – a great meeting with a person who has done it all – corporate, entrepreneurship, investing, teaching. Lot of great insights the favourite one being, “spend 2 hrs in the morning, preferably before anyone comes with a no disturbance sign. no internet/mails at this quality time thinking quietly about the company”. got to do that.
Day 3 – 17 October (Tuesday)
- Kanwar Leikhi – a veteran, but does not seem to be bullish on investing in India. It might be his experience. Nevertheless he shared some of his experience.
- CISCO – Ravi Amanaganti and his team. A very nice team who sat through our presentation and threw some interesting questions and feedback. Hope to get visit to Tesla through this contact and then need to ponder on entering more neighbouring countries soon.
- Ram Sriram – another successful investor; one of the original investor in Google.
Day 4 – 18 October (Wednesday)
- Vijai Ullal – an investor but with not much interest in investing in India mainly because of time zone difference. He is also an IIT Madras alumni and a member of its board.
- Geoff Wolley – hi is CEO of Patamar Capital and we had a webbed call. He has focus in investing in India and even familiar with houseboats in Kerala. Not surprisingly, I invited him to visit Kerala and take a ride in our boat.
- Desh Deshpande – a very special person with whom we had a Skype call. His message was to stay focussed and to simple things. His lessons for entrepreneurs are penned down in his book, available in his website as free to download.
- University of Santa Clara, Miller Centre – Here we went and understood the various program undertaken to support social entrepreneurs in different stages of their organisation.
- M R Rangaswamy – we traveled to San Francisco to him. He runs two organisation Indiaspora which connects the Indian diaspora in the US with India as well as the eco forum which connects large businesses in the Valley and worldwide to share best practice regarding sustainability.
- Impact Hub – We finished the day here and we presented to an audience of start ups and members of the impact hub led by Tim Freundlich (previous co host of SOCAP ).
Day 5 – 19 October (Thursday)
- Skoll foundation – we were hosted by Shivani Garg. This foundation was set up by Geoff Skoll co founder of e-bay. It seeks to help in the mainly not-for-profit entrepreneurs and organisations who are doing social impact work in developing countries.
- Google – we were hosted by Anant Jihngran and Joy Thomas. Here we presented our pitches to the group. The response was very positive with lots of engagement and questions from the group. Another sign of how small the world is, I met with Brinda Lovely a good friend of one of my close friends, Pramod and Sandhya.
- Vivek Wadhwa – he is an academic, researcher, writer & an entrepreneur. He is currently teaching at Carnegie Mellon University. He listened to our pitches and then gave each of us some very useful advice.
- Packard Foundation – a public meeting held at the Packard Foundation at their splendid offices in Los Altos . This event was hosted by Steve Tobin president of the Flora foundation an organisation founded by the Hewlett . The event was introduced by Cole Wilbur a former president of the Packard Foundation. The Trekkers each presented their work to the group followed by excellent Q&A. They took great care to provide Indian sweets considering Diwali.
- Asha Jadeja – is herself an Angel investor and Philanthropist who also invests in start ups. Her late husband, Rajeev Motani, was an original investor in Google having taught the founders at Google while a Professor at Stanford. We had a good interactive session with her.