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From Miami to India and back: Life-changing experiences from Geeks on a Plane

Adam Boalt, CEO and founder of Boalt.com who has launched several startups over the years, including RushMyPassport.com and GOSO (short for Go Social) and is now at work on another startup,  returned to Miami a year and a half ago after half a  decade living and working in Washington, IMG_0474 (1)DC, and has settled into Pipeline, a co-working space on Brickell. Recently he returned from a Geeks on a Plane trip with about two dozen other geeks to India, organized by 500 Startups founder Dave McClure. The group made stops in 
Bangalore, known as the Silicon Valley of India, New Delhi and Mumbai . In his five accompanying blog posts, he takes us to several startups in Bangladore, including YourStory.in, India's most comprehensive platform dedicated to promoting the startup ecosystem, as well as a  Startup Weekend, and he gives us a ring-side seat at the Bombay Stock Market (above Boalt, right, with McClure), all the while sharing his thoughts about conversations about technology, investing and fostering an ecosystem he had with McClure, fellow Geeks on the Plane and the Indian entrepreneurs he met. Afterward, he shared some thoughts on his trip as well as takeaways for Miami’s ecosystem and his own businesses.


By Adam Boalt

Every minute of the trip I felt like I had sensory overload. Interacting with fellow geeks and Indian entrepreneurs was amazing and a huge learning experience.

As I traveled from Bangalore to Mumbai, I found that entrepreneurs in India were extremely open-minded to embracing change and willing to work on solving relevant solutions to challenges in their locale. In India there are a lot of issues with infrastructure, such as the electrical grid, and financial means, but a lot of startups were working around those challenges and working on solving local problems related to the challenges. An example of this was the Embrace startup we visited in Bangalore. They were building a product to prevent neonatal deaths in rural areas in developing countries: http://boalt.com/blog/goap-day2/

I think that Miami has a lot of opportunities in Latin America and Miami has become the gateway that connects us for so many other industries. It would be great for us to encourage growth in these emerging markets. I am also a Cuban-American so I'm always on the pursuit of innovation in the Hispanic market. I'm a big fan of the emerging opportunities in mobile and included two examples of opportunities that could be applied in Latin America on my last post: http://boalt.com/blog/geeks-wrapup/

As I traveled through different areas through India, I realized that hosting events such as 'Geeks On A Plane' by 500 Startups is essential to foster startup growth in a community. Bringing like-minded individuals together to collaborate is a great way to create a sustainable ecosystem for innovation. Miami is so fortunate to already have the infrastructure and has a lot to offer from a lifestyle perspective for startups. It was nice to learn that a fellow geek on the trip, Bruna Maia, Events Director at 500 Startups, was originally from Brazil and grew up in Boca Raton (she attended Pine Crest  Elementary and Spanish River High School) She thinks that Miami has the potential of being great with so much culture and hopes to see it flourish.

In the short time that I was there I've already started to incorporate another geek’s API, Keen.io, into Sales360, a Salesforce.com application I'm developing to measure the response rate of direct mail in real-time. We also changed our tag line from "Interactive Business" to "Digital Business Strategy," which was inspired from a conversation with another geek, Crystal Rose.

IMG_01181 I think that every day I'm disseminating bits and pieces of the trip and applying my learning experiences to my business and life in Miami. This will be a life experience that I will never forget.

My series is here:

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Photos show Dave McClure of 500 Startups, having a fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, founder of YourStory.in, a platform for the indian startup ecosystem, and some of the Geeks on a Plane at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

 Adam Boalt is a serial entrepreneur and emerging technologies evangelist and an interactive strategy, user experience, search marketing, search optimization and social media enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @boalt.