An Opera Singer in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is not only populated by start-ups and entrepreneurs. Many large corporations have labs around here or are partners with some of the incubators and accelerators. From my desk I look at Airbus, Citi Bank, Mars Inc. and many others who have partnered with Plug and Play. These companies want to be close to the latest innovation and to the most promising start-ups. For entrepreneurs it is a great opportunity to test assumptions and to perhaps even land pilots.
As part of the mentoring sessions at Plug and Play we enjoyed talks by an architect who participated in the design of the space station, as well as the innovators behind Mercedes Benz and ATT.
We have all heard Mercedes bragging about being a mobility provider. Most of us see them probably still as the manufacturer of classical luxury cars. Nevertheless they have done a lot to become a real mobility provider and are working hard on it. Rasheq Zarif
, Senior Manager, Business Innovation at Mercedes-Benz, told us a bit about it.
From Vienna I know Car2Go
, the simple, efficient and affordable car sharing service now offered in over 60 cities around the world. It is not only the car sharing service in itself which is great. The technology behind is pretty amazing. Car2Go wants to make the user experience simple and pleasant. By asking the drivers to rate the appearance of the car the company knows which cars need to be cleaned and which can be left for another day. This combines a pleasant drive with an efficient fleet management.
I was not aware of the cooperation between Mercedes and NEST
, the hyped thermostat company. Thinking about it, this partnership is intuitive but also innovative. It does not make sense to start heating your home at a specific time. You could be delayed by a meeting or in traffic. Or you could come home early. Your Mercedes car communicates with the NEST unit and tells it when you are headed home and when you are due to arrive. NEST makes sure that your home has the desired temperature when you enter but does not waste energy by heating much earlier.
The user experience is an issue for all of us. There were times when it was cool to have a car with many buttons. Then came all the fancy displays and interface units. They often required studying a big booklet for a week at least. But why should you press a button to switch on your seat heating if it is cold outside? The car could figure that out easily by itself.
Rasheq had some advice for entrepreneurs. I am happy to share some of it with my readers:
Bernhard is the founder of HELLO STAGE. He is probably the first opera singer pitching an Internet start-up in Silicon Valley. Before founding HELLO STAGE in Fall 2013, Bernhard was the CEO and Artistic Director of the Wiener Konzerthaus. He held several C-Level positions in European technology companies with EUR 100+ million turnover. See www.bernhardkerres.com.
- - Step out of your vertical. Really awesome products from a user perspective are created across various verticals.
- - You never know everything. Do your research but then get going and try it out. You will never stop learning.
- - Believe in your product.
Bernhard is currently working for HELLO STAGE in the Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley, a leading accelerator for start-ups. He writes about his experience in the innovation hot bed on this blog.