Yesterday night, I met St. John Goldfinger and Paul Jenkins for dinner. They are technology entrepreneurs based in the UK. They were in Bangalore for the EU-Karnataka Asia IT Enterprise 2006 Conference (quite a mouthful) basically looking out for companies to collaborate with on many of their projects. They wanted to meet few of the local people to understand the IT scene in Bangalore and India, and for some reason they had found me.
We had a very varied discussion from normal jobs vs your own company to software piracy to skydiving. St. John started out his career as an IT consultant and realized that "everyday was just like any other day" and decided that a normal job wasn't for him, so he and a group of friends got together and started their own company and have been working on almost any kind of work from web design work (which earns their bread right now) to many ideas they think that'll make it big.
One such idea is Kid-Safe. In countries like UK and USA, children have become addicted to the computer and internet and it's very difficult for parents to control the usage, so Kid-Safe consists of a special software on a dongle which allows you to login to the computer only when the dongle is plugged into the USB port. This way, the kids usage can be controlled. They believe there's a huge market for such a product. Personally, this idea was a bit strange to me at first because we don't have such problems in India yet, but I could see why it can be such a problem in UK - after all, on an average, they have a computer for each person in the home and most children have computers in their own rooms.
I was asking him about how they come up with these ideas, and they said that's what they love to do - 'keep ideating', and how do they do that? By constantly visiting new places and interacting with new people and trying to understand if there are technical problems they can solve. St. John has travelled all over the world - Eastern Europe, South Africa, China, US, and now India. It was interesting to hear about his observations of the people in different countries.
One of the things that we discussed was that St. John is looking out for some people here in India to oursource some of their work and he said he was finding it extremely difficult to find good people. They are looking to outsource two kinds of work - web-devel work which involves PHP/HTML/CSS/Apache/etc. and the other which involves C++ Programming, especially with Vista in mind. If you know anybody who would be interested in such kind of work (St. John has a very attractive pay offer in mind), please contact him directly (stjohn -at- softwareassociates -dot- nu).
We also discussed about cycling, trekking and outdoor activities, and I told him that Karnataka is one of the best places for such activities. One of St. John's passion is skydiving - "Skydiving is one of my favourite hobbies, I have done about 100 jumps from around 12,000ft. You fall for around 40-50 seconds it is really good fun and very relaxing. You can do it anywhere in Europe, mostly I go to a place near Barcelona in Spain." And they said they liked the food (especially the chicken) better here in Bangalore than at home and we calculated that it is ten times cheaper!
All in all, it was an interesting conversation and I hope St. John finds suitable people to work with here in Bangalore, and wish them all the best :)