Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meet the Google Glass Tech Trekkers

Last week, Chris Shaw (Think Big’s Entrepreneur in Residence) began what is known as The Tech Trek: an 8-day roadtrip to some of the most well known startup hubs documented through the frames of Google Glass.  Chris traveled by vehicle with 8 other lucky “Trekkers” from Silicon Valley to Kansas City.

Before the Tech Trekkers set off on their innovative, tech-inspired walkabout, Think Big was able to ask them all a few questions such as why they’re doing what they’re doing and what they’re most excited about.  Since we’ve already met the head Trekker Chris Shaw, it’s time to meet the rest of the gang:

Spencer Walsh
Owner of Piscator Media
Tech Trek Videographer & Producer

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
“There are two reasons why I want to go on Tech Trek. First, I was asked to produce the video content for the trip. Secondly, I would never miss a chance to mix bleeding edge technology with doing what I love”.

What stop are you most excited for?
“The Tech Trek stop I'm most excited to see is the Grand Canyon. Cities come and go. Technology changes every day. This excerpt from Wikipedia explains why the Grand Canyon is the total opposite of that, and therefore the perfect juxtaposition for the trip: ‘Nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history has been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted’”. 

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“I'm excited to get my hands on the technology and start playing with Glass - that's when I think the really good ideas will surface.”

Blake Miller
Partner at Think Big Partners
Serial Entrepreneur & Tech Trek Supporter

Why do you want to go on the Trek?

“I want to be immersed in other startup community cultures in an effort to bring back and implement best practices.”

What stop are you most excited for?
“Vegas, Duh.”

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“Experiencing the stratosphere with Glass.”

Jason Grill
Owner of JGrill Media. Host and Producer of Entrepreneur KC Show – KMBZ.
Tech Trek Media & Public Affairs Expert

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
“Great group of individuals involved. Great cities. See Google Glass up close. Share the Kansas City entrepreneurial story.”

What stop are you most excited for?
“San Francisco Bay Area through the eyes of Google Glass.”
What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“I’m looking forward to hopefully using them at the Dodgers stadium. I’d like to see what Zack Greinke can do away from KC and what this Yasiel Puig talk is all about up close.”

Manager of Product Marketing at Sprint
Tech Trek Intrapreneur, Blogger/Social Media Producer, Mobile Connectivity Provider and Spotify DJ

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
"I’m excited to better understand the piece parts of the tech eco-systems in each of the cities.  I want to find new ways a big corporation like Sprint can serve the community in KC. 

I also love road trips and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in close quarters with all of these innovative people!”

What stop are you most excited for?
“Hard to say…but probably Boulder just because of the success in this small community and the close analogs to KC.  I would say Vegas is a close second because I know there’s a lot going on there that is overshadowed by the city’s casinos.”

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“I’m hoping to capture some candid moments of general shenanigans along the road.  When you lock 9 people up for an extended period of time, there’s bound to be something happening that won’t wait for you to take your phone out of your pocket, launch the video camera and begin filming.  Other than that, I just want to explore the current app eco-system and see what kind of things we can dream up on the way back.”

Tom Brantman
Imagineer at Hallmark Cards Inc.
Tech Trek Observer, “B” Team Documenter (role includes interjecting questions, points of interest and pit stops)

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
“Feel the energy of these awesome entrepreneurs. Meet and listen to the new masterminds who are shaping tomorrow’s interactions. This is a crazy fantasy trip, who won't want to be part of it?”

What stop are you most excited for?
“I'm interested in a transition more than a stop. My expectation is that people will approach Google Glass with excitement, familiarity and awe while we are out in the Bay area. But as we progress towards the center of the US, excitement will be replaced with fear and lack of context or no reaction at all…I guess if I were to pick just one place it would be Amazon. I spent a lot of time in Bentonville with Walmart and I love the way Amazon has completely changed the way I shop. They have changed retail more than any other digital company and they will continue to change it. Seeing the Amazon Locker is a cool way to see what might be next. Maybe even see something else they have cooking.”

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“I want Google Glass to augment my current shopping experience real time. I want to look at items on the shelf and see where I can get it at a better price, how long it would take to get it, is there better or greener product options, what are other customers saying about that product. Some of this would be awesome if it were automatic, for now I assume I can direct that experience with basic search and Amazon shopping tools. From a Hallmark perspective, I want the story behind the products. I want to know who manufactured those products, why, where did the ideas come from, what are the people who created these products like? There is a strong emotional connection between a product and its maker and I want to feel that some way in the future.”

Writer for The Atlantic, ESPN Insider and Large
Tech Trek Journalist

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
“To explore the device as a consumer object and a sociological phenomenon, and explore the present and future of wearable computers.”

What stop are you most excited for?
“The Lightening in a Bottle Festival outside of LA.”

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“Shots of aerialists over the crowd, describing what they are doing on stage.”

Andy Olson
Innovation Leader at Hallmark.
Tech Trek Observer

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
“I'm tagging along to learn as much as possible and to help out capturing this awesome experience (any way they'll let me). In terms of learning, I'm specifically interested in:

Entrepreneurship - Is there anything in the way these start-ups/entrepreneurs work that I can take back to Hallmark (ways to develop the most innovative/relevant ideas, ways to make good decisions faster...)

Google Glass Capabilities - The Glass product is an amazing tool for storytelling (as evidenced by our documentary) and for connecting people. As Chris uses Glass, I want to learn how we might adapt/use this capability back at Hallmark (as we consider future products and/or services).

I also wanted to join this trip because it's a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm a techie at heart (my undergrad is in mechanical engineering - I graduated from Santa Clara University in the Bay area).  The opportunity to get my hands on this technology while it's still hot from the oven is pretty amazing. I also love to hang around smart people; between the people on our team and the people we get to interview/meet, I'm going to hear from a lot of great minds. Finally, it's an adventure...I like adventure.”

What stop are you most excited for?
“I'm excited about this entire trip. I think I'm most interested in seeing how different communities live entrepreneurship and how different communities experience Google Glass.”

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“In terms of unique applications, I can't help but think about how I might use it (or see it used) on a bicycle. I'm a cyclist (as our fellow teammate, Tom Brantman); my head always goes there. There are a couple of existing cycling applications that could easily be incorporated into Google Glass. It would make a safer experience for the rider AND provide more/relevant data.

Finally, I'm looking forward to serendipity. Between the people and the new technology, we're going to come across stuff we didn't anticipate (and we'll find uses that we never imagined). The unexpected is where we're going to have the most fun (and find the most insight).”

Rodrigo “Rigo” Neri
Co-founder of Instin
Entrepreneur selected by Head Trekkers to join The Tech Trek

Why do you want to go on the Trek?
“Over the past couple of years I've been getting more involved with the startup & tech community in Kansas City.  I'm currently one of the lead organizers of KC Startup Weekend. Throughout this time I've seen Kansas City's startup & tech community grow but I feel that it can be even bigger. The reason I want to go to Tech Trek is so I can see with my own eyes what makes these top communities in the US special and bring the lessons back to KC to help it grow and make it a well-known startup and tech hub.”

What stop are you most excited for?
“I think I'm most excited about Boulder, CO. It's a place I've never been before, they have a small and powerful community which I believe is similar to what Kansas City can become.”

What unique way do you imagine using Google Glass while there?
“I haven't really thought much on what unique way I imagine using Google Glass in the trip. I'm curious to see how it performs on the road and low internet connections. However, when it comes to Google Glass in general, I'm excited about the possibilities of soon being able to use facial recognition to learn about who is around you, especially in entrepreneurial and tech parties.”

Now that you know them and why exactly they’re doing what they’re doing, learn more about the Tech Trek experience here.

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