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MIT - December - Fall Semester Ends

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Mon, Jan 23, 2006 @ 15:01 PM
December brought the end of fall term and the first Boston snowstorm.

My team for New Enterprises Class produced a business plan for a dynamic location matching platform.  Imagine that your mobile phone knows when my mobile phone is nearby.  This technology can be used, for example, by dating services to make introductions, but is also useful for businesses wanting to send discount coupons to people who are nearby.

I read CK Prahalad's Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid for Global Markets class.  For an American, this was an eye opening discussion of the 4 to 5 billion people in the world with the limited purchasing power of the equivalent of $1,500US per year.  The author presents a compelling case for recognizing these potential businesspersons and consumers as having the same integrity, drive, and desires as everyone else and provides a series of real-world examples of reaching and exanding those emerging markets.  And, for the inventors/thinkers/entrepreneurs, the book sparks idea after idea.  For example, while many are focused on how to deliver clean water to these markets, the book got me thinking about how to produce the individual use containers that would keep it clean (e.g., is it possible to produce an anti-bacterial bottle or a single-use, fast-degrading bottle).

Just before the semester ended, I took a weekend trip home to Tucson to support one of my favorite charities.  Angel Charity for Children had its annual ball on December 10th.  This all-volunteer charity raises the better part of a million dollars every year for a different children's organization. 

Then, the class took its first trip.  We spent several days in New York city.  The meetings are confidential and off-the-record, so I can't list the people we met.  I can say that we met some of the most well-known leaders of industry, arts, and public policy.  And, I was delighted with how seriously most of our speakers took the off-the-record nature of the meetings and the utmost candor of their comments and answers to our questions. 

While in New York, we did get to enjoy some social activities.  My favorite was a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit explaining the artistic influences on Van Gogh.  I was completely surprised by the discussion of the influence of Utagawa Hiroshige.  I've always admired Hiroshige's work and, after seeing this exhibit, the parallels are obvious.  This was confirmed by a letter he wrote to his brother in the fall of 1888 (part of the exhibit):

"I envy the Japanese for the enormous clarity that pervades their work.  It is never dull and never seems to have been made in haste.  Their work is as simple as breathing and they draw a figure with a few well-chosen lines with the same ease..."

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Topics: technology innovation, MIT - Sloan Fellows, VanGogh, b2c customer service