Interviewed by Jess Erickson.
Lets start with an intro. Where are you living now and what are you up to?
My girlfriend and I share an apartment in Berlin but I travel a lot. Right now I’m in Hawaii for a funeral. Then I’m in San Francisco for five days, then Paris for one day, then back in Berlin. Two days after that, I’m off again to India for a think tank with the Global Superangels Forum, an Indian investor and startup network that I’m part of. We’re the first of its kind in Asia and it’s very exciting. Our founder Rajesh Sawhney is almost like a cult leader. The email chains we have on the team are some of the most in-depth and philosophical of any startup stuff I’ve been part of. It’s the bomb.
Do you think the industry as a whole is fully leveraging tech and creativity to solve the world’s problems? My guess is that India’s tech scene is a lot different from Berlin’s.
I think more creative people could work on finding solutions to basic problems. The fleeting interests of people with iPhones are way too central right now. As a basically competent and educated person, it makes sense to look at the world and ask, “Where can I make the biggest impact? Who needs me most?” People with spare time and income are going to run the hedonic treadmill with or without you. The biggest challenge is to first and foremost not be one of them, and secondly to put your efforts toward people who need you most.
Has your view on entrepreneurship changed now that you’re in a completely different environment? If so, how & why?
Entrepreneurs around the world hold similar psychological profiles but have some fascinating differences. As a writer, I’m personally more interested in aspiration than success, so I naturally stray away from Hollywood and Silicon Valley toward aspiring zones like Berlin and most recently Bangalore. As a writer I like collecting stories from roadside junkies, and Chinese preschoolers, too, so I’m always moving. My work with entrepreneurs is just part of what I do and who I spend time with.
During the time you were in Berlin you were a tech journalist, how do you foresee the future of journalism in the tech scene?
Too many stories are getting repeated, and in turn space is clogged and resources wasted. One blog breaks a story and 150 blogs repeat it almost verbatim. Despite the abundance of opportunity, there’s such a desperation from people who want to get featured. Especially startups. People want to share a link on their Facebook page that gives a shout-out to their company so that their friends will think they’re successful. They don’t really care who features them but they’d prefer it if it had a cool name. This is going to change and the first step is awareness.
What is one book that every tech entrepreneur should be reading?
I just started a book called The Petting Zoo. It’s by the poet, musician and diarist Jim Caroll who died in 2009. I highly recommend it.
After all the meet ups, hackathons, demo days, conferences, interviews, who would you say is one of the most interesting and brilliant people you have encountered in the tech startup world?
I like Marley Fabis. He’s one of those people in Berlin who kind of coasts under the scene and will probably kill me (slash, send me a wink face) for mentioning him. He’s the essential entrepreneur in my storybook: gutsy, complex.
What advice would you give to a young lady aspiring to become a tech journalist?
Dig deep. And feel free to message me on Facebook, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.