In todayís socially connected global bazaar, you hear the news of some teenager developing some cool iPhone or Android app and starting a business. They talk about how this whiz-kid was doing programming since he was seven years old and how he came up with an idea for all his classmates to share whatís in their lunchbox today, so they can decide how they would trade lunches. And then everyone around the kid hails him a hero and then two months later everyone forgets about him and life goes on.
Silicon Valley has changed so significantly in the past decade that it is not a Silicon Valley anymore, but a Social Plateau or Mobile App Land. And many of us who grew up in our careers over the past two decades are beginning to wonder if there is any room for us who are trying to offer tangible value to businesses and consumers. The venture capitalists on Sand Hill Road have quickly forgotten what made us great and what made them richer while offering real tangible value to communities, businesses and consumers. If it is not a social networking play with some frivolous value to the youth around the world to share who snores in their sleep or share their silly videos or something like that, the VCs are not interested in funding your idea.
Well, hereís an example of how Silicon Valley morphs itself into a vibrant community with creativity and offers real value to real consumers with real applicationsóand that was developed, not by a teenager from some high school, but by a chip designer in his 40s with many years of chip design and EDA applications engineering experience.
The company he co-founded, General Eyeballs Inc., has developed an application for iPhone and Android phones that enables drivers to find legal parking places and warns (via in-phone and SMS or email) if they are violating any of parking ordinances in the city of San Francisco, thereby saving them hundreds of dollars in fines and endless driving around trying to find a good parking place. ParkingTicketStopper.comís database is regularly maintained to keep up with the cityís changing parking rules. It is all legal and offers tremendous return-on-investment (saving one parking ticket pays for two years of subscription), thus offers real tangible value.
Manohar Kamath, an electrical engineer (a damned good one), an applications engineer (an excellent one) and a chip designer (a brilliant one) had enough of getting categorized as "old school." He went "new school," learned a few new tricks in iOS, Android and Blackberry programming and then teamed up with a friend to start a mobile applications company. In just one year, they have come up with a fantastic application called TKT STPR, and they are now helping hundreds of new and seasoned drivers in and around San Francisco to find legal parking spaces and avoid parking tickets due to lack of understanding parking regulations that might cost the driver hundreds of dollars in parking fines. Their next target is the Big Apple.
So, while some of us are only paying attention to rocking, happening, and rad teenagers coming up with cool apps, there are some chips off the old block who are also bringing the good old groovy into the new millennium and doing very well. So, watch out Global Village, Silicon Valley is morphing itself one more time.
Nitin Deo is a technology and business management executive of semiconductor and software industries residing in Silicon Valley.