Arriving in Bangalore at the ungodly hour of 5am, I was able to walk to the hotel I had a reservation at. Upon arrival, I was brusquely dismissed. My reservation meant nothing to the night staff because they were sleeping and couldn’t be bothered by me or my pesky reservation.
A rickshaw driver that had been stalking me since my arrival at the bus station offered to help, and within 15 minutes I’d found a suitable hotel nearby that would let me in. It wasn’t much, but had a TV which meant I wouldn’t have to worry about watching the 12:30am World Cup games.
Besides getting a feel for the city and keeping up my work schedule, my chief purpose in Bangalore was a presentation I was set to give at “Social Media Day”, an event organized by Mashable.com that featured “meetups” in hundreds of cities around the world. Nat, my good friend and partner on theInteract.net, alerted me to the meetup, and thanks to some fortunate timing I secured the last of three spots for startup presentations.
- The format was “Pecha Kucha”. You can read more about it here, but basically the format calls for 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. After 20 seconds, each slide automatically gives way to the next. The idea is to keep the presenter on point and to prevent them from rambling. It seems simple, but truly its a challenging format for presenters, as I found out when I began practicing in my hotel room a few hours before the event.
Nat and I had started working on the presentation the day before, and after maybe a dozen hours of work I thought it was ready. That thought came tumbling down the first time I tried to run through it, when I stumbled all over myself. The slides were going by too quickly, the flow and order of the presentation was a bit off, and I only had two hours left to prepare. Frantically, I edited and reorganized, and left my hotel with time for only one run-through before hopping in a rickshaw and taking off towards the far side of the city. Things were looking grim.
After getting lost several times, I arrived 30 minutes later than I should have. When I finally arrived, I had time to give the organizer the updated version of the presentation, but no time to run through it.
When the event started twenty minutes later, there were two rooms with a total of 82 Bangalorian Social Media afficionados filling the seats. The startup presentations were first, and I was to go third. The first presentation was particularly interesting; it was by Shufflr.tv, a startup that had launched publicly just days earlier and had recently secured $3M in funding.
The 6 minutes and forty seconds flew by in a flash, and before I knew it I was thanking the crowd and asking for their help when it came time for us to launch. Compared to the terrible run-throughs I had had earlier, it went fantastically well. The crowd atleast seemed into it, and I hadn’t said anything stupid or offended anyone which was good. Being that the crowd were all social media buffs, they were Tweeting about the presentation as I was speaking:
The rest of the event consisted of some short talks by various social media experts. For the most part, they were really interesting. At the end myself and the other speakers fielded questions before adjourning for some “mingling” time, during which I met quite a few interesting people and had a chance to chat with some of the other startup founders.
After the event, a group of about ten of us headed out on the town for beers and food. We had a blast, and got a chance to talk more with some interesting and knowledgeable techies. I can’t even remember the last time I was surrounded by so many other web and tech-enthusiasts, and I had a blast talking shop with fellow tech-enthusiasts.
I found the whole group interesting and likeable. One person in particular I found inspiring: Vivek, an 18-year old who has 30 full-time software developers working for him! Not bad for an 18-year-old! He had a driver, and at the end of the night dropped me off near my hotel. Before leaving, however, we had to take a picture together so that he could prove to his parents that he had a legitimate reason for being out late.
For the next four days in Bangalore, I spent my days in an awesome coffee shop called Matteo near MG Road. In the U.S., we have MJ, and in India they have MG, Mahatma Ghandi. The main road in nearly every town, no matter how big or small, is Mahatma Ghandi road, or “MG Road” as everyone calls it. I’d spend from 11am to 8pm each night working from Matteo.
In the evenings would grab drinks with a few of the friends I’d met at Social Media day, especially Preetham, Shyam, and Michael. It was great to meet and hang out with some interesting folks in Bangalore, and we had a good time checking out different spots around the city. I’d make sure to be back at my hotel in time to catch the late-night World Cup matches.
All in all, I loved Bangalore and had an awesome week there and made some interesting new friends. I had to force myself to leave, but Hyderabad was calling: I had a reserved seat to hear Seth Godin speak in a few days, and I needed to get there and give myself some time to get ready for it. At 6pm on a Tuesday, 8:30am back home, I was on a sleeper bus headed towards Hyderabad.