SM: Where did you get the idea for Groople? Are you an avid traveler? Why group travel? MS: I did not come up with the idea of group travel. That distinction would go to our founder who is now off creating another start up combining culinary experiences and travel. What attracted me to this opportunity is that groups is the last extremely large category of travel to bring online. Prior to Groople there was no group travel provider offering a consumer friendly group travel planning and booking solution. >>>
A significant challenge for a developing country is developing an adequate workforce. Here I discuss the situation of the current workforce in Kurdistan. The most significant issue is that there has been little technical development in the workforce, thus there are limitations on the type of work that can be performed. A second significant drawback is the limited language skills, although time may indeed change this – I look at the trends where the US has set up military bases (South Korea is a prime example), and wonder if things were not so different for those countries at first as well? Having a large population returning from the US and Europe will not only improve the technical skills of the area, but also bring other traditions back with them (as well as contacts). Ties with other Universities is also of paramount importance. >>>
As the iPhone mania rages, it is a good time for us to pay tribute to the most spectacular innovation in retail store design, The Apple Store.
“On a square-foot basis, each of Apple’s 142 stores brings in almost three times the sales generated by each Best Buy store.”
And some Apple Stores also have the famous I.M. Pei glass staircase that was originally designed for the NeXT office in Redwood Shores.
Iraq is one of the most resource-intensive areas of the Middle East, yet to date has perhaps some of the least actualization of that potential. The Kurdish autonomous area has fared better than the rest of the country, and in the first portion Qubad points out the political stability which has given them a 10 year head start. It is also surprising to realize that the agricultural resources are also expected to become a significant opportunity for the area. While both oil and agriculture are feasible today, I am still curious to see what the area will be able to deliver in terms of technological development – can it achieve something similar to Israel in the Middle East, and be an example for the rest of the region? >>>
We have talked a lot about Web 3.0 and Context. Today, we begin an interview series with Mike Stacy, CEO of an Online Travel company called Groople, which has zeroed in on the context of Group Travel. It’s a very interesting niche, and we will explore Mike’s story of building Groople.
SM: Please describe your personal background : Family, upbringing, early career, etc. leading up to Groople. MS:
I was raised in Saginaw, a small town in Michigan. I learned a lot about what makes a business viable from my father, who was a banker in town. It was his job to make the final call on whether or not the bank would offer a business loan to a company or individual. Does the company have a solid plan? Is it a good business opportunity? Are they strong leaders? Even as I made my way up the corporate ladder, so to speak, I always thought about the traits of a business and a leader that equaled success and put them into play whether I was leading a small team or a large division. >>>
In International Dollar, the number, actually is $5 Trillion, which breaks down as follows.
The BOP market in Asia (including the Middle East) is by far the largest:
2.86 billion people in 19 countries, with an aggregate income of
$3.47 trillion. The BOP market in these countries represents
83% of the region’s population and 42% of its aggregate purchasing
power—a significant share of Asia’s rapidly growing consumer market.
In rural areas the BOP is the majority of the market—representing
76% of aggregate household income in rural China and effectively
100% in rural India and rural Indonesia. >>>
Qubad Talabani is the son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and is a representative of the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq. The entire world is all too familiar with the war going on in that country. While I am not interested in exploring the political ramifications of such a war, history has taught us that the rebuilding efforts after traumatic events can bring out rapid business development (or fail entirely and lead a country in a downward spiral). The intent of this interview is to explore at a very rudimentary level the potential for economic development and entrepreneurial opportunities in Iraq. To explore this further, Qubad agreed to discuss the Kurdish story with me, from which it is possible to identify opportunities for investment and entrepreneurial endeavors. >>>
I made the comment in an earlier post that Yahoo now needs true GMs, not just glorified functional managers. As I wrote that piece, it made me reflect on the significance of what I just said. Silicon Valley is not a place that has that many true General Managers. In the sense that GE or 3M grooms GMs, the valley simply doesn’t. The structures of the companies are such that there are hardly any GM jobs.
With one exception. The valley, because of its history and culture, has numerous people who have been startup CEOs, and whether or not they were good at it, have had the experience of the full-scale General Manager function. While these entrepreneurial managers may have come up the ranks of engineering or product marketing, at some point, many of them have had to raise money, manage sales, do biz dev deals, and manage finance.
Few of these people, however, end up wanting to go to large companies to become GMs. Why? >>>