Vinod Khosla Talk

TiE Bangalore is back with the great talks & networking meets that it organizes for entreprenuers. After a long lull period it organized a talk by Vinod Khosla followed by a networking dinner yesterday. Though the topic (Solar-Thermal Power) sounded unrelated to me (hence not exciting)  but after having attended the talk I found it was an evening well spent with many good lessons from me to take home.

Though Vinod spoke in the context of solar – thermal power he really gave out subtle messages which are worth pondering over and assimilating.

  • Innovation is about breaking the rules.
  • An example to think about innovation, the nine dot problem ( though this become a quite common questions but the answers are what were very interesting).
  • If there is a problem then there is an oppurtunity, look for problems and they are great fun to solve.
  • Need to make a transition from impossible -> plausible -> possible -> probable.

Short story to illsutrate this Brazil and Ethanol (also there is an Implication of this story for PC business)

Brazil tried for 20 years to adopt ethanol, though it was cheap the biggest problem was that ethanol was not available everywhere and hence people did not make a significant investment in an ethanol car as they did not want to end up in a situation where they would be stranded due to unavailability of  fuel. In 2003 Volkswagen came with a hybrid car in which both gas and ethanol can be used together then suddenly nobody wanted gas cars but started using the hybrid cars and in the next 3 year 80% of the cars were running on ethanol What volkswagen did was to create an ‘option value’ and a bridge for transition. He mentioned that there is a good lesson to be learned for the PC business and left it to the readers as an excercise to figure out how it is an example  qwn MS. (Hint was open office and need to use a windows machine many times)

  •  Shorter Cycle -> Test -> Improve. If the cost & time cycle of an experiment is very small then probability of innovation goes up. ( I think this is the biggest boon of web2.0, the failure cost is very low)
  •  Always ask the right question. Most of the time when we say that a problem is not solved. “Problem is not the problem but rather the problem is the incentive, no one has the incentive to solve the problem”,
  • Encourage innovation is to encourage failure. If you have not failed enough then you are not trying to innovate.
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