Russel Simmons is in Singapore on October 15th to speak at FailCon, a one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success. Check him out on the panels ‘How to be a kickass CTO’ and the ‘Metrics of Success’.
Russ is a card carrying member of the Pay Pal Mafia, a small group of early hires at the legendary payment platform that have gone on to build their own successful companies. In 2004 Russ and his business partner Jeremy Stopplemen set out to tackle that oh-so familiar problem of where to find the city’s best coffee / dentist / bowl of char keow teow. Their company, Yelp.com, went IPO in 2012 and launched in Singapore just last month. With all this success behind him, we wonder, what is Russ going to speak about at FailCon?
As it turns out, Russ has a lot to say.
The importance of data
Since being founded in San Francisco in 2004, Yelp has grown to become one of the most popular and influential customer review websites but it didn’t start off that way. In this early interview, co-founders Russ and Jeremy explain that the first version of the site focused on asking friends for recommendations via email. Looking at the data they found that early users didn’t email friends for recommendations, but instead found a link buried in the site that allowed them to create their own unsolicited reviews. Today yelpers have written over 30 million local reviews.
His new company isn’t so lucky
These days Russ is working on Learnirvana, a two-person startup that’s reimagining the experience of learning. As Russ explains it, “my current company is an epic business failure, since it has not yet had any real success after a year.” The core product, Lentil, helps students learn not through countless flash cards and route memorization, but by combining ideas in knowledge modeling, psychology, and interface design to create a streamlined and rewarding learning experience. As Russ says, “I am OK with having a “business failure” if I love what am working on (and can afford to fund it, hah!)”
So what is it that keeps him going, even when his company isn’t seeing the astronomical growth that this start-up celebrity is used to? His response – “I am mostly happy and relaxed about work”.
Hear more from Russ and 13 other awesome entrepreneurs at FailCon on Monday, October 15th. Bonus! Use the code SGEwin to get a 20% discount on your tickets!
But an alternate meaning exists, and it could gain widespread currency in the very near future. Hacking, broadly defined, is not just breaking things. It’s finding ways, often involving the clever use of technology, to make something better. That includes hacking parenthood, our homes, our food, and our lives.
In the 21st Century, hackers are poised to become the world’s most prominent problem-solvers. It’s already starting to happen: Hackers are employed to counter and neutralize their black hat counterparts, while Facebook acitively promotes a ‘hacker culture’ within its edifices.
“It’s the hacker community that we should really encourage,” says Ayesha Khanna, founder and director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory group ‘focused on human-technology co-evolution, geotechnology and innovation’. Read more
As part of Google for Entrepreneurs Week, held on 23-29 September 2012, Google Singapore is holding a varsity challenge where students aim to solve real-life challenges based on those faced by Singapore startups GoMyWay and LoveByte.
The case competition, to be held on 29 September, will involve 20 teams from 3 local universities: SMU, NUS, and NTU. Participants will be judged on creativity, coherence, and presentation of their proposals. Read more
Schmeiden shows off Spyk at Ideas Inc. Plug a smartphone into Spyk, and it instantly becomes a tablet.
Schmeiden emerged as the top startup at Ideas Inc. Business Challenge, winning SGD 200k (USD 163k) in equity funding and a SGD 10k (USD 8.15k) cash prize. The awards were given out at a ceremony on 22 September at Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore.
Ideas Inc. is an annual elimination-style startup competition in Singapore that guides entrepreneurs under 35 from idea to execution. The top 15 startups would get SGD 15k to develop their prototypes while the top 6 would potentially get another SGD 50k. The event, started in 2010, is organized by the Nanyang Technopreneurship Center.
Schmeiden, which has developed a prototype device that converts a smartphone into a tablet, will enter into negotiations on the terms of the funding with Invention Capital and Jungle Ventures, each supplying SGD 100k. Read more
What human civilization needs more than anything is not greater IQ or EQ, but TQ: technology quotient. In their manifesto Hybrid Reality, for TED Books, wife-and-husband team Ayesha and Parag Khanna explores the frontier of the information revolution: The Hybrid Age – the human-technology co-evolution and geotechnology, and their implications for society, business and politics.
We may not have an actual fireplace but the please come with questions on the topic “Hybrid Reality: The Emerging Human-Technology Civilization and What it Means for Singapore” for the chat.
More on the Speakers
Ayesha Khanna is Founder and Director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory group focused on human-technology co-evolution, geotechnology and innovation. She is a Partner at K2S Advisors which provides strategic and financial advisory services in smart and sustainable cities, technology and infrastructure. She is also a Faculty Advisor at Singularity University and directs the Future Cities group at the London School of Economics. A technology and innovation strategy expert, Ayesha has over ten years of experience advising clients and cities on scenario analysis, product development, digital branding and customer experience. Her clients have included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, American International Group, and Deutsche Bank. Ayesha is frequently interviewed in the media and was featured by the New York Times. She is a regular speaker at industry, marketing, and academic conferences related to emerging technology trends and intelligent cities. Ayesha is the author of Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization (TED Books, 2012) and Straight Through Processing (Reed Elsevier, 2007), and was series editor of The Complete Technology Guides for Financial Services published by Reed Elsevier. She has written for diverse publications such as BusinessWeek, TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, Strategy+Business, and Foreign Policy. She also blogs on human technology co-evolution at Big Think. She is currently working on a book titled The Generative City. Ayesha is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation, a Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, on the Board of Advisors of Humanity+, and co-curator of TEDxGotham. In 2010, she co-chaired the Innovation Advisory Board for the New York City congressional campaign of Reshma Saujani. Ayesha has a BA (honors) in Economics from Harvard University, an MS in Operations Research from Columbia University and is completing her PhD in Information Systems and Innovation at the London School of Economics.
Parag Khanna is a leading geo-strategist, world traveler, and author. He is Director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, Visiting Fellow at LSE IDEAS, Senior Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. He is author of Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization (2012), the international bestseller The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order (2008) and How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (2011). In 2008, Parag was named one of Esquire’s “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century,” and featured in WIRED magazine’s “Smart List.” Parag is regularly featured in media around the world such as the New York Times, TIME, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal, and appears regularly on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, PBS, and NPR. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics, and Bachelors and Masters degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Born in India, Parag grew up in the United Arab Emirates, New York, and Germany. He has traveled to more than 100 countries and is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
630pm: Doors open, registration starts
7pm: Fireside chat and audience Q&A with Ayesha and Parag
Facebook Singapore opened up its newly renovated sales office to the media yesterday. The office features a mish-mash of different themes. Graffiti created by local artists line the walls of the pantries and offices, along with replicas of shophouse shutters and windows. Blue lanterns adorn the ceilings.
These familiar local elements are mixed with what has come to define the quintessential Facebook office: Posters encouraging employees to “move fast and break things”, a wall for visitors and staff to write messages, and red industrial pipes that signify a company in constant evolution. Read more
Is Kia Silverbrook history’s greatest inventor? On the surface, it might seem so. He holds 9,700 patents and patent applications internationally. Business Insider calls him the greatest inventor in the modern era. On the other hand, Thomas Edison, the famous inventor of the light bulb, only accumulated 2,332 patents.
Yet raw numbers tell only half the story, a fact which Kia himself was quick to emphasize. Patents, he said, merely gives one the right to prevent someone else from making a piece of technology.
“Having a lot of patents is like having a lot of legal contracts, it’s not something to get excited about,” he added.
Kia Silverbrook was in Singapore for the Distinguished Technopreneur Speaker Series (DTS). It is an initiative that engages the world’s top innovators to share their experience with entrepreneurs, industry professionals, researchers, scholars and students in the country. The dialogue with Kia was held on 13th September at Biopolis, the center of biotechnology in Singapore. Read more
Branding is often labelled an art. But Martin Lindstrom, a branding guru who has consulted for clients like Microsoft, Visa, Disney, and supermodel Tyra Banks, wants to make it a science.
To do it, he is relying on findings from his research, which cuts across neuroscience and psychology and draws data from focus groups, customer surveys, fMRI scans, and social experiments. He has even lived in the homes of consumers just to get into their minds.
The result is a set of intriguing findings encapsulated in his latest book, Brandwashed. He was in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands on 10th September to share his insights to an audience of marketing managers, brand consultants, and entrepreneurs.
Martin is as polished and genuine a speaker as they come. Yes, some critics have noted (here and here) that he tends to overstate the significance of his research findings. But I found his presentations thought-provoking, engaging, and memorable. Here, I will summarize his key points and relate them to entrepreneurship. Read more
Third time running, TechSparks scours the entire nation to find the top product technology startups. The 5-month long search was done across five cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. The competition saw more than 2000 entrepreneurs and 800 teams pitch to be selected to present at the Grand Finale in Bangalore, but there would only be 30 semi-finalists with 15 finalists that would eventually present on stage.
These 15 teams had six minutes each to convince a panel of judges why they should win. While there are no prizes involved for TechSparks, the honor of winning and media exposure makes it worth the effort. TechSparks 2011 has proven to be quite a game-changer for the majority of the 30 teams that took part last year: 15 raised funding, 1 was acquired and 1 acquired a Northern Ireland startup. Read more