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Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Bobby Yazdani, Founder and CEO of SABA (Part 7)

Posted on Monday, Feb 4th 2013

Sramana Mitra: These changes will have to be integrated. Let me tell you how we have designed a product or an environment in which we run our virtual incubator. It is not a simple design. We have video lectures and case studies. The video lectures are recorded videos. Then we have case studies that go with each of those videos that are in searchable text format. It is then all organized in metadata and authored, so you can a very efficient 50-hour core curriculum of all the things you need to learn if you go through those core modules.

We then have seven core modules on entrepreneurship that we believe every entrepreneur needs to learn. We get a tremendous amount of scale out of this because we know that these are hitting the spot. Then we have the elective modules, where we have content that aligns with specific industries and that are specific to that module – learning material, video lectures, case studies, etc. Next, we have live events. We have mentoring sessions that we run on WebEx. Once you study the curriculum or work on a specific topic on the curriculum, then you want interactive guidance, and you can have interaction in the comment area or discussion areas around those modules. You can come and join these WebEx roundtables. Those are live sessions where you can discuss your issues, present slides, dial in to a phone call, etc. The kind of environment you are envisioning is the kind we are envisioning as well. From an adoption point of view or from a behavioral point of view, it is not an easy adjustment for people who are learning in these systems.

BY: I agree. And I think if you fast-forward five years from now, the question is: Would we have the same experience with the same workforce?

SM: You are right. I think people will get used to learning online much more than they are today. They will also realize how powerful it is. There is this myth that you have to learn in person. You don’t necessarily learn better in person than when you learn online. If you really use the mechanisms that online learning is offering today – especially the kind of social learning, interactions, tools, and technologies that we are able to provide today, once people will start learning how to use these tools and techniques, they will start gaining a lot more leverage out of them. Right now I think just in terms of behavioral changes, we are not quite there yet.

BY: Yes. It is quite early. We are not there yet.

SM: Bobby, where would you turn young entrepreneurs in terms of white spaces? What are the unsolved problems and blue-sky opportunities?

BY: I am an entrepreneur and I am a supporter of entrepreneurs. The areas I have passion for are solutions that can have a lasting impact. That is why I like what I do here at SABA. Today we have over 30 million people using our technology, and I think my journey with SABA was to have an impact. So I look for impact as a core criterion. Entrepreneurs should invest their time in opportunities where they can articulate the impact of their work. The areas I have passion for are genomic sciences, medicine, or technologies of life sciences, which are going to be highly personalized. I have a passion for next generation computing. We have seen the evolution of the mouse to iPad and interactive screen devices. I am wondering what the next paradigm will be. Is it some form of augmented reality, and what would that look like? Those kind of environments are highly intense computing environments. With the next generation storage and in-memory devices, we are enabling that kind of environment.

SM: I think, in terms of those interfaces, speech is lagging behind. We haven’t been able to crack the speech code yet.

BY: Exactly. How do you interact with reality? This is very interesting. I have a lot of interesting big data problems. I worked for Oracle for ten years and I had a lot of passion for indexing large amounts of data. I am interested in learning about large amounts of data that is now in both a structured and an unstructured fashion. I have companies that are supporting that space.

SM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

BY: I think what you are doing is remarkable, and I hope the best for you. I wish you a lot of success in supporting entrepreneurs.

SM: Thank you. I would like to stay in touch with you.

BY: Thank you very much.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Mobile and Social: Interview with Bobby Yazdani, Founder and CEO of SABA
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