Epilogue: Massive Earth Summit 2018

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Summits are generally yada yada affairs with an opportunity to escape the routine and meet fellow industry people. There are always more people outside chatting away than inside. On top of it, being the first event, the huge challenge of having delegates/speakers etc.  The event management company advised subtly to have cocktail and dinner so as to hold guest till then and oh yes do not have more than 7 sessions in a day, with a lot of large panels so as to handle last-minute dropouts-was the parting friendly advice.

Off-course with conferences happening every second day, one needs a sure shot recipe for success, or what they say in Bollywood – the perfect formula film.

Somehow Massive Earth Summit 2018, first edition didn’t have any of it. No cocktails, no dinner, no management institute students to fill tables and no large panels. Well all sessions barring startup showcase, was one on one Q&A. Result – Sessions were packed until the end. On top of it, no speaker dropouts so instead of 6 suggested, we had 17.

Massive Summit happened in a Massive way by a team which not only imagined but executed it flawlessly – ending the summit right on time at 7.30 sharp!!!

The first Massive Earth Summit was first in many ways – No plastic bottles, sustainable locally sourced food, no plastic badges, no flex side walls and a fine line of 38 speakers and some 290 delegates (1600+ had applied and 350 were invited). ( all this impeccable concept/design/execution was done by Gomassive teamLemon Design, and V Resorts.)

The opening keynotes were delivered by Dr. K VijayRaghvan (Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India) and Mr. Vijay Sekhar Sharma – Founder PayTM while The closing talks were delivered by Mr. Suresh Prabhu ji (Minister of State Commerce & Industry and Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat ji (Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers’s Welfare).Some of the other key speakers were

  • Dr. Anil Kakodkar – Ex-Chairman Atomic Energy Commission of India
  • Mr. Manoj Kohli – Executive Chairman, SoftBank Energy
  • Dr. H Purushotham – Chairman & MD, National Research Development Corporation
  • Mr. Sanjeev Bikhchandani (Founder Infoedge)
  • His Excellency Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvag (Ambassador of Norway)
  • Mr. Satya S Tripathi – Chairperson, Sustainable India Finance Facility, UN
  • Ms. Helena Molin Valdes -Head of the Secretariat, Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), UNEP
  • Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairperson – Development Alternatives, winner of King Zayed Award, lifetime achievement award by UNEP

Apart from the interesting sessions, we also had showcase by some 4 startups with very interesting technologies. The event created quite a buzz in media while the tag #massivesummit #massivebydesign #gomassive was trending on Twitter. The notable mentions were Sand Art at Puri beach about Massive Summit and coverage of the event in TV – CNBC Away, News24, print, and online media.

So great conference, massive buzz and great visibility! Now what? Do we end up being a yada yada summit where people come and talk or while World in General and Delhi in particular battles with Air Pollution and climate change?

So Massive summit was the beginning of the war which we wage against these large problems. The summit saw the launch of Massive Design Challenge.

, which allows people from all across the world to submit their solutions regarding large challenges. So pls do apply and you can win up to $250,000 to build your prototype/solution.

And we just didn’t stop at Massive Design challenge but also launched a 1000 Cr ( $150mn) fund, named Massive Fund with Vijay Sekhar Sharma -UN Environment’s Patron for Clean Air. This fund will solely invest in Pollution reduction industry.

Some of the fund coverage

LiveMint – Mint NewspaperVijay Shekhar Sharma, Shailesh Vickram Singh unveil a green fund

Times of India – Paytm’s founder teams up with a venture capitalist to invest $150 million via green fund

The Economic Times – Green Fund: Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Shailesh Vickram Singh set up $150 mn fund

YourStory – Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma co-launches $150-mn environment protection fund

So hope to see you at Second Edition with some solid startups/executions and a cleaner environment.

Till then

Hello Massive,

مرحبا ضخمة,

你好大量,

こんにちは

שלום מאסיבי

Goodbye (regular) Venture Capital, Hello Massive!

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I have spent almost two decades in Startups / Investments and believe strongly that venture capital is probably the best option as a career. And no it is not the glamour or the usual challenges and interaction with new teams, new ideas day in day out and being in changing landscape every day/month/quarter but the real fun is in the ability to impact the world in a meaningful way.

Despite all the criticism of VC world – about loss-making business models, utopian ideas and the inability of many funds to outperform many indices or even return capital, the fact remains that venture capital industry is one of the finest product of the dark ugly big capitalism. In no other models, interest is aligned so beautifully where motivated founders slog day and night while dreaming of changing the world by bits and pieces and many time succeed as well.

Hence apart from those massive returns, the biggest contribution of venture capital has been its ability to change the world, create hope in society and on top set an example of fairness and equal opportunity where one crazy passionate entrepreneur can change the world and create wealth without resorting to all dirty underbelly tricks of capitalism. Hence I am not only proud of this career but am rather a staunch worshipper at the altar of this VC world which continues to dream big and aim big.

However as I pound the street raising my next fund with a good track record of success and failure, I have much time caught myself wondering about the big goals which drive me and the question which I ask all founders as what keeps me awake in the night. The fact of matter is that the biggest problem which haunt me are no longer next big idea in e-commerce, deep learning, possibilities in B2B space or consumption  but rather the large and real problems of declining forest cover, sad state of water / sanitation, environment, polluted & choked rivers / ocean and our ever declining bad air which we are breathing in and out.

Having set up an NGO (SAVEN) to protect environment at age of 18 in 1990s, I probably feel more strongly about it but despite all my hope, energy and commitment, fact of the matter is I am not doing anything real about it and much worse is that all of us who can do something, are busy and excited about bitcoin prices, next food delivery company or doctor discovery app while (secretly) hoping somebody else to appear and save us from the coming catastrophe.

The existing scenario of supercharged investors, euphoric entrepreneurs, and the orgasmic environment was best captured by Adam Smith in supermoney.
“We are all at a wonderful ball where the champagne sparkles in every glass and soft laughter fall upon the summer air. We know, by the rules, that at some moment the Black Horsemen will come shattering through the great terrace doors, wreaking vengeance and scattering the survivors. Those who leave early are saved, but the ball is so splendid no-one wants to leave while there is still time, so that everyone keeps asking, “What time is it? What time is it?” But none of the clocks have any hands.”– From Supermoney by Adam Smith.
Today one doesn’t need to be a climate scientist to figure out that environment is in deep peril. Oceans are silent, choked by plastic. Air is nothing but smog. Poverty is very well alive and kicking and pesticides have infiltrated every food system. However, the response from all of us is more on a confused state where people look at leaders and leaders look at politicians and who only look at short-term voters.

The fact is that we need to solve this problem our selves as it is too important a problem to leave to others and hope for others to solve. Hence at this juncture of my life when I have the luxury to choose, and the choice is available so my thought is as to why I am not solving this and the fundamental question comes as if not now then when, if not us then who?

As humans, we have created challenges for Nature by housing, transportation, and food and now in turn chickens are coming home and we are staring at these big challenges. I believe that if we are able to drive talent, money & networks to solve complex problems, we shall be able to solve them. Google Driverless cars are such an example. To start with, we are looking at opportunities in Agriculture, Electric Vehicles & Storage, Pollution (Air, Water, Plastics), Renewable energy, Sustainable housing, Water & Sanitation and aiming to solve them by using science, technology, and venture capital thinking of scale and disruption.

Hence time has come for me to say goodbye to regular venture investing space and say hello to Massive challenges, Massive efforts and Massive opportunities.

Hello Massive,

مرحبا ضخمة,

你好大量,

こんにちは

Why can’t India fix its air or clean Cities!

1. Delhi Air is bad. well not bad, it is at Gas chamber level.
2. Long exposure can kill and present level of pollution is three times more than code red levels.
3. So you expect whole population to be running out of city in order to save their life!!
4. Well, NO, a few are tweeting about it while rest are like goats in slaughterhouse. Calmly waiting for the turn.
5. Little bit annoyance but otherwise business as usual while choking on Air!
6. So who is at fault – AAP (Govt)? BJP (LG/MCD)? Congress (Opposition)? NGT (law enforcer) or Supreme Court (Quasi executive these days)? Or Constitution of India ( the framework designer)?
7. Think hard before jumping to an option or forming an opinion?
8. For a moment think hard as who is accountable/responsible for Delhi Air?
9. Where do bucks stop and which official will lose his/her shirt or get suspended/terminated if things are not working?
10. LG / CM / Pollution control Chiefs / NGT Judges or Supreme Court!!!
11. In fact none of these. All of these have power to meddle but no accountability or no skin in the game! Promotions will continue as well as increments without any relation to the performance! So crisis keep on happened and we turn to most obvious / visible face and jump on it in the moment of crisis.
12. So the moment a crisis happens, we jump to blame the most visible/obvious option – Politicians the law makers.
13. Politicians are lowest hanging fruit to blame for any crisis but remember they are law makers. Given no of laws passed in India, they are working very well. so what is the issue?
14.  Again is Delhi Air only crisis, we the Indians are facing?
15. Look around – each of India city / town or village is crumbling? is it so all across world? Well no. London had crisis 60 years ago.  Barcelona was nightmare 20 years back but beautiful city now.
16. All countries / cities go through crisis but they come out better – in terms of Laws / execution / enforcement & punishment except India. We in India seems to be just going down and down on a bottomless pit in every city. Traffic chaos, law & order chaos, deaths by unsafe building, traffic accident etc just growing. No wonder India ranks on top on each of these ghastly metrics. Like any other country, India also try to solve every crisis by making law.
17. India starts with the law and then everything else becomes hazy. Take Rape cases for ex? how many prosecuted for Rape? how many punishments finally got done? Remember Nirbhaya anyone? Anyone got hanged despite judgement?
18. India administrative structure is a round musical chair where goal was “Rule” not governance.
19. Officials are appointed for short term with no long-term vision or accountability.
20.  And as officials frame rules themselves, they build zero accountability. The simple motto is all privileges but none of the risk or accountability.
21. In Mumbai station stampede, how many officials got arrested or suspended?
22. Look at NTPC boiler bias with 28 ppl dead, any body arrested? If it would have been a private entity, all directors would be in Jail but in case of public sector or Govt, ex gratia from taxpayers!!
23. Zero accountability / short-term tenures and appointment of a generalist with little understanding of the subject, create indifference.  Around us, all we see is simply a function of indifference and team of people busy calculating their next increment or posting rather than delivering real kick-ass service. No wonder Swachha Bharat failed, Delhi is choking and there is traffic chaos on every road.
24. Coming back to Delhi Air, what is happening ? which officials is there on solving air issues? or rather which experts?
25. Majority of heads in the department which monitor pollution/air quality, have no clue or at best, have the same perspective as a newspaper vendor? Delivery of a newspaper doesn’t make you expert on world affair (though lot of Newsreaders wont agree!)
26. Officials will be there for ¾ years and might get next posting in say Ministry of Culture and might have a stint in Ministry of sports before getting in pollution management.
27. Are they best person to take the call and advise top leadership?
28. Can any administrative structure without accountability, knowledge and long-term ownership can think strategic while it pays to be tactical?
29. So think again, worry hard and choke your lungs. Delhi air is not going to get cleaned by this Govt or any Govt
30. They are not designed for it. Expecting govt to solve pollution is akin to solving maths by chewing gum.
31. The problem to pollutions / air quality will be not be solved by any Govt but by private sector / startups using the innovation to bridge this chasm. Time to goMassive on these issues have come.

#Massive