11/5/07

2 guys worth keeping an eye on

I just got back from a global "idea to product" competition. We placed 3rd in the Entrepreneurship challenge. Given that social entrepreneurship is a new concept to this type of competition (maximizing the bottom-line is still the main goal and rightfully so), I was quite happy that the judges considered our project as a worthy initiative ( and that we got a bit of the prize-money as well ).
The guy who co-created the winning product is a fascinating young man. His name is Michael Callahan ( I did not have the chance to meet the co-founder Thomas Coleman) and their product will allow people with speaking disabilities regain their ability to communicate. The mission:
"improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through utilization of the mind and advanced communication".
To give you a better idea of the ingeniousness and the potential of the idea, here is a video:


you could say that it's like a mind-reader but only if it transmits only what you actually want to say. Pretty cool, isn't it ? I was impressed by the presentation but I was even more impressed by the the person.
Michael is the kind of unassuming guy that would sit in the back of the room, willing to talk to anyone who would care enough to ask him about his product. His passion for improving people's life through high-tech technology is obvious. We got to talk because our presentation was before his and he was the 1st one to congratulate us on the nature of our project.
Here is a story to give an idea of the kind of guy Michael is:
While I was chewing on some juicy Texas steak at the luncheon, Michael asked discreetly for a vegetarian plate. I stupidly asked him the usual lame question that vegetarians get: " Why stop at animals ? "
He smiled and said:" This is how I draw the line: if whatever I am going to kill can give some sort if indication that it'd rather have me not doing that, then I will not eat it".
I wish that Ambient and the audeo product would be on the market soon. Not only are they good-hearted but they also are business-savvy enough to have retain all the rights to their intellectual property while still being in school.
I also wish I had stock options in their company when they go public. Ought to be a good investment, me think.

The other person worth knowing is Prince Cedza Dlamini.
Cedza comes from a great lineage of rulers and history makers (as you can check on the wiki page). You would not know it from his humble behavior. He visited the lab without much fanfare and was very curious about how we go about research here.
His foundation focuses on promoting a youth-led development through social entrepreneurship.
"He believes that social entrepreneurship is the key to solving the problems youth face in Africa because it encourages a mindset shift in young people, challenging them to become masters of their own destinies and inspires them to create self-sustaining organizations instead of being dependent on foreign aid."

Well, This is a program I can get on board with :D.
Let's just say that I am looking forward to seeing how we can contribute to Cedza's vision. He thinks our organizations can help each other, I surely hope he is right.
In fact, I hope he can help in more ways than one. ;)

6 comments:

  1. These guyz are sooooooooooo smart and humble and their projects are full of promises!! geez 2007 is definitly L.'s year! You got to meet great people and I'm pretty sure they think the same about you.

    i'm so glad i bet my money on L. when boarding on the "other"project....seriously if someone expected some "entrepreneurial" soul in me...well well keep on expecting!!

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  2. @Jogany,
    It definitely felt like a privilege to meet these guys. Then again, I felt the same way when I went to Montreal :). I am looking forward to attending the next bloggers' meet, wherever it might be ;).

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  3. Woawww... I really gotta do something useful with my brain... Btw, now that you've raised some money, we hope to see more of your project soon...

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  4. Hi Tnr,
    We still need to work out more financial kinks but we feel better about the near future now.

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  5. Wow Lova - that must be have been a great experience!! The Audeo product is just amazing! I hope they release it soon.

    I really like what Cedz said about social entrepreneurship. I hope Foko gets a lot of support :)

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  6. Hi Amu,

    Audeo is quite something isn't it?
    I wish I understood how one can make that happen.

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