TechTrotter: Innovation Happens Everywhere

TechTrotter started as a global investigation into innovation hubs often overlooked by the mainstream press.

After two months in Brazil I relocated to India and my observations now cover technology in daily use, Web trends and weird and wonderful aspects of life in the world's largest democracy

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Brazil: Innovation or Imitation; a weekend of rock and roll

2536838553_5e49d2ac1fOne of the best things about traveling is the ability to reinvent oneself on the fly. In New York, I’ve become somewhat of a curmudgeon. After four years in town I’m not as filled with wide-eyed wonderment, or as willing to experiment. One consequence has been my declining intake of live music, a significant departure from the days when I would trek to the Bronx or Brooklyn to see African Hip Hop or grime rappers at a moment’s notice. Expensive drinks, snobby fans and long, late commutes home were just some of the reasons that come to mind.

Not so in Brazil. Last night I attended my third concert in two weekends; a pretty good streak. Last weekend I saw Seu Chico, a group from the city of Pernambuco who cover songs by Brazilian legend, Chico Buarqe.  The venue, Studio SP,  which bills itself as an urban art space and performance hall on Rua Augusta, had a nice blend of grit and posh, with an upbeat crowd.  Even better were the cheap drinks, such as the “busca vida,” which was a mix of cachaça, extra cane sugar and lemon juice.

Of course, the highlight was the band itself. In spite of the fact they played covers, or perhaps because of it, they had the crowd enraptured, singing along loudly with every tune. While the lead singer looked a bit bereft, the group’s 19-year-old pianist, Vitor Araújo, stole the show.

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Brazil: Whose box? Monetization, innovation and social content at boo-box headquarters

Marco-and-MarcosYesterday I got to demo a revolution in the offing when I met with boo-box founder, Marco Gomes, and company CEO, Marcos Tanaka, at their headquarters in the Sao Paulo neighborhood of  Pinheros

By creating a tool that is “non-intrussive, yet elegant,” in the words of Tanaka, boo-box allows publishers to target ads based on images and content that appear within a post, leveraging the relationship they have with their audience to add value for all parties involved.

One cool feature I saw was a full-page ad for Marvel comics that expanded to inlcude old comic book covers and a video trailer for the movie ‘Iron Man.’ Those same slots could easily be used to show previous, related posts if a drag and drop feature were to be rolled out some day.

Image representing boo-box as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

In 2007, boo-box was the first Brazilian startup to be mentioned in the American press while the company was still in a “pre-alpha” stage, Tanaka said. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch speculated, “this may be quick acquisition bait for Amazon or eBay.” Two years later, the company has partnered with Brazilian e-commerce heavyweights such as Buscape and Mercardo Livre, with shows no signs of slowing down. Twenty two-year-old Gomes wears the hat of CIO, which in American might stand for chief innovation officer. At boo-box, his job is to be constantly on the lookout for ways the company can reinvent itself through innovation.

The full rundown of our lengthy discussion is destined for another venue, so to avoid the risk of plagiarizing myself I won’t say much else. I will however share with you a remarkable lesson I learned. At one point during the afternoon, Tanaka told me his image of an American is a boy with a lemonade stand, or a girlscout selling cookies door-to-door. Brazil does not have an equivalent.

So simple and yet so poignant, that statement helped me to see how as Americans, entrepreneurship is practically part of our DNA.

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