Travis Cordell Kalanick is an American entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of the peer-to-peer file sharing company Red Swoosh and the transportation network company Uber. In 2014, he entered the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans at position 290, with an estimated net worth of $6 billion.
In 2009, along with Garrett Camp, Travis founded Uber, a mobile application that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ride-sharing services. Uber operates in 58 countries and in more than 300 cities around the world.Uber faced some controversy in some cities in North America, like Washington DC, Chicago, Toronto, and New York City. The company faces fierce competition from similar services and “clone companies” in cities like London. Travis has been well known for creating a “win at all costs” culture within Uber and that is precisely what he tried communicating to the budding startup fraternity of the country today at Vigyan Bhavan. Travis had a lot of advice for the Indian start-up ecosystem and here are the 8 top lessons from Travis to the entrepreneurs of the country.
Lesson 1: Find something broken, something that will be your passion
Travis started off his power packed speech with a picture of a young toddler working on computer following by his statement that,
“I have always been a geek and started coding at a young age. My dad was a civil engineer and growing up as a geek was not very easy for me.”
It was this statement that set up the tempo for Travis’s speech. Travis further shared insights about how Uber came to existence by mentioning that,
We wanted to get a ride in Paris but couldn’t find a taxi.”
It was this problem that made him wonder about creating what we know today by the name of Uber. Through Uber he wanted to make things easier for both drivers and end customers. He asked the budding entrepreneurs to find such problems, and work towards resolving them. Problems that would make them feel passionate about and hence, would be fun to resolve.
Lesson 2: Find a problem. We wanted to get a ride in Paris but couldn’t
It is a famous saying that once we understand the problem, half of our job is done. For Travis this problem was not finding a taxi while in Paris, for the budding entrepreneurs it might be anything that they feel should be improved, that they feel is a problem which deserves a solution. And it is resolving this very problem that they should make their business. Not just that their solution should be the best possible solution for solving the problem and only then will they be able to make a mark.
Lesson 3: How bad is the problem you are solving? Ask yourself”, shares
Talking about how he tried resolving the problem through Uber, Travis said,
“I am the Problem Solver-in-Chief at Uber. Just like math professors who relish tough problems, we too were looking at challenging problems.”
He went on to describe how Uber uses heat maps to track cars and understand and predict rider patterns and in turn help cab drivers be in the right place at the right time. He explained this by saying,
“To give users a seamless experience, we need to predict demand and figure out when customers are looking for a cab 15 minutes ahead of time, so that we can bring down expected time of arrivals (ETAs) as low as possible.”
He further explained that to be a good entrepreneur, one should not be satisfied after solving just one problem. It is essential to find the bigger challenge that is ahead. It is also equally and essentially important to understand how bad the problem at hand is and what needs to be done to address the problem in the most effective manner.
Lesson 4: Be analytic but also creative!
Travis while explaining this quoted Albert Einstein which says,
“Creativity is intelligence having fun”
Travis mentioned that being creative is equally essential to being analytical. One you analyse and find the problem it is very much necessary to solve the problem with utmost creativity.
Travis believes that the magic comes when you blend analytical abilities with creativity. He said,
“Computers can compute anything. But without creativity what they compute doesn’t matter. When both come together, it brings joy and that can be the game changer.”
Lesson 5: Perception & reality, an entrepreneur makes them meet with innovation!
Travis while speaking about innovation, mentioned that
“There is always a large gap between perception and reality and that gap is the innovators playground, where the magic happens,”
Travis believes that the one who follows the crowd, never gets ahead of the crowd and the ones who claim their own territories have the chance to do something disruptive. To further add to his point Travis mentioned,
“Go against the grain, be resilient even if everyone thinks you are crazy. When you see difference between perception and reality, you better be right, otherwise things can backfire.”
He further mentioned that great entrepreneurs are great at understanding risk and mitigating them.
Lesson 6: Make magic! Do things which astounds people & makes them talking!
Travis emphasised that the best way to make magic is to let people enjoy the joy of being a part by either giving them money, helping them save money, or giving them value for money. While explaining this Travis even mentioned the case of Steve Jobs by saying that,
“Hire the right people. See the future and get your team excited. Steve Jobs had a patent for the iPhone and saw the future for smartphones before anybody else.”
He further added by saying that when you make magic you know instinctively that you have made magic happen. Once, you believe your ability to create magic only then will the people around you believe the magic that you are creating.
Lesson 7: Selling & Storytelling, that is #AlwaysBeJugaading!
We have seen this in the past and Travis further reiterated that the best way to create a connect with customers is to learn to hustle and tell a good story. In order to explain this point Travis then played a video of the world seen through the eyes of a taxi driver, including – everyday sights and marvels, we generally take for granted to further his point.
In order to explain this Travis mentioned,
“Elevate your storytelling from just a taxi ride to the story of life and its meaning. Learn how to hustle – #AlwaysBeJugaading! There are ways to sell things with honesty, passion, and integrity. While Uber is about transportation you can still inspire people with a good story.”
Lesson 8: Adventure, doing the impossible is all entrepreneurship is all about!
Travis is a firm believer that doing the impossible is all entrepreneurship is all about. Adding to this he said,
“Because we could. The world is going global – Bay Area, Beijing and Bangalore – that’s where the action is!”
Talking about seeking adventure, he added that Uber decided to do the impossible by trying to enter China, a market that almost no foreign company has been able to gain a foothold of. He added a few words of advice for Indian entrepreneurs,
“It’s not just about building for your city or country but, now is the time when innovation is going global.”
Travis’s speech definitely was one of the most important highlights of today’s events and we hope that all the bussing entrepreneurs of the country have something to take away from this.