People: I love reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Here are some worth noting:
Pascal Finette from Singularity University, former leader at Mozilla. You know those people who just make you feel inspired about everything no matter what the conversation? That’s Pascal. He also loved my Western Rise coat and is going to buy one.
Sandro Gianella from Google’s Policy team. Turns out he grew up very near where my family is from in Switzerland. We both discovered through conversation that many of Google’s ambitious project launches started in obscure small towns with fun stories…. Cooking up something for Telluride!?
Leslie Jump and Mack Kolrich from Startup Angels. The Private equity market potential is almost 100X that of current Venture Capital market in the US. If we can find ways to better tap into capital out there to fuel entrepreneurship, it could be the single best way to address transfer of wealth, social mobility, and of course innovation in the US. I believe in their mission.
Adam Klein from American Underground. One of the most progressive and action oriented leaders in the startup world with regards to increasing ethnic and gender diversity. Truly an inspiration.
Ryan Sturgill from Gaza Sky Geeks – Thought building a startup was hard in the US? Try doing it in Gaza. This organization proves the potential of entrepreneurship. They need mentors to visit them and work with their startups, so consider getting involved!
Joey from Coalition for Queens – Teaching people to code in the minority neighborhood of Queens. Taking people from $18k/yr to over $80k/yr jobs on average through their courses. Truly inspiring.
Lawrence Mandes from Galavanize. Can’t say enough good things about Galvanize and their approach. Lawrence and I are scheming a heli ski group for this winter…
Fadi Bishara from Blackbox Connect – supporting entrepreneurs from around the world by bringing them to Silicon Valley. He’s got such a refreshing and grounded vision of how to help entrepreneurs. I respect every insight he has because he’s on the ground and in the trenches every day with founders.
Brian Gorbett – leading marketing for Microsoft’s cloud platform, and formerly with Google Cloud, I’ve known Brian for about 6 years. He’s your model evangelist for tech products. He also knows just about every accelerator and early stage investor in the US too.
Companies: I talked to at least 30 companies over the course of 2 days. Here are some of the ones I was most excited by:
Betagig – job shadowing platform. Why haven’t we considered making job shadowing a requirement before accepting a job, especially for new graduates? Simple and powerful way to reduce incredible waste of time, energy, and money in the HR industry for almost every company of every size.
CultivatingCoders: Working with Native American tribes to teach people how to code and get high paying jobs.
Peanut Butter: A platform that allows employers seeking talent to offer student loan repayment as an incentive. Could have a huge economic and social impact if this were a standard offering in the US, and it could be an amazing advantage for companies competing for talent.
ProxBox: Simple & clever way to digitize and improve the real estate experience for agents, home buyers, and sellers around the world.
InsiderBookings: I could have probably saved tens of thousands over the years if this travel service existed. Seems too good to be true, but testing it out soon!
We need to take real action with our education systems in America. We need to solve the student loan paradox, and we need to educate every student in the country for the skills that will actually matter in the next 20+ years. After hearing about China, and experiencing similar efforts in countries across the world, it’s clear that education could be the single largest point of failure for America as a hub of innovation and therefore a global leader. The private market can only pick up so much of the slack.
Recruiting for TVA at tech events like Tech.co is better than I thought, especially if they are pulling in companies from outside the Bay Area.
The Bay Area mentality is in the crosshairs. The romanticism and optimism I remember feeling when I showed up to the tech scene in SF in 2008 is all but a memory. I can’t tell you how many skeptical people I talked with that live there.
Autonomous vehicles are going to change transportation. Our cities and their leaders can’t afford to ignore how drastically it will impact so much of the infrastructure they are in charge of today. Government has the opportunity to make this an amazing thing to solve many obvious challenges like traffic, parking, transit programs, safety, pollution, and environmental impact. This is probably one of the most exciting changes that will impact our lives in a very positive way that my generation will get to fully experience.
With limited fiber access in Telluride, we should consider 5G over hard wire broadband to every home in town.