Friday 30 June 2017

Day 25 of Mentor on Road, USA

“Take courage and work on. Patience and steady work— this is the only way.”
Swami Vivekananda

Day 25 of Mentor on Road, USA started with a drive from Houston to Dallas which was approximately 239 miles / 385 kilometers. It was a pleasant journey as we came across some scenic beauty and mild rains.

Dallas is a major city in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the most populous city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. The city's population ranks ninth in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. The city's prominence arose from its historical importance as a center for the oil and cotton industries, and its position along numerous railroad lines. According to the July 1, 2016 United States Census, the city had a population of 1,317,927. 

The city's economy is primarily based on banking, commerce, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare and medical research, and transportation and logistics. The city is home to the third-largest concentration of 
Fortune 500 companies in the nation (behind New York City and Houston).

Dallas' key to growth came in 1873 with the building of multiple 
rail lines through the city. As Dallas grew and technology developed, cotton became its boon and by 1900 Dallas was the largest inland cotton market in the world, becoming a leader in cotton ginmachinery manufacturing. By the early 1900s Dallas was a hub for economic activity all over the Southern United States and was selected in 1914 as the seat of the Eleventh Federal Reserve District.

Fortune 500
 companies headquartered in Dallas include: 

  • Energy Transfer Equity
  • HollyFrontier 
  • Southwest Airlines 
  • Tenet Healthcare 
  • Texas Instruments 
  • Dean Foods 
  • Trinity Industries
  • Energy Future Holdings
Irving is home to 6 Fortune 500 companies of its own, including:
  • ExxonMobil, the most profitable company in the world 
  • The second largest by revenue for 2015, Kimberly-Clark
  • Fluor (engineering)
  • Commercial Metals
  • Celanese
  • Pioneer Natural Resources
Additional companies headquartered in the Metroplex include: 
  • American Airlines
  • Regency Energy Partners 
  • Atmos Energy 
  • Neiman Marcus 
  • Think Finance 
  • 7-Eleven, Brinker International 
  • Primoris Services 
  • Radio Shack 
  • D.R. Horton
  • AMS Pictures, id Software
  • ENSCO Offshore Drilling
  • Mary Kay Cosmetics 
  • Chuck E. Cheese's
  • Zales and Fossil
Corporate headquarters in the northern suburb of Plano include:
  • HP Enterprise Services 
  • Frito Lay 
  • Dr Pepper Snapple Group 
  • JCPenney
Dallas is currently the third most popular destination for business travel in the United States, and the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is one of the largest and busiest convention centers in the country, at over 1,000,000 square feet, and the world's single-largest column-free exhibit hall.

Our first event was with the members of Indian diaspora in Dallas. It was a fairly interactive session where we discussed about how the US has successfully resolved those challenges in the past which are currently faced by India.

It was very heartening to meet Mr. Kanjibhai who lives in a joint family of 40 people (which includes his 5 brothers and their families) together in one house which is spread over 26 acres of land. When he came to the U.S. for the first time, he only had a few dollars and a degree, like most other Indians. With his sheer hard work and strong work ethics, he has built tremendous economic stature and has gained immense respect.

We met Mr. Jatinbhai from Shahpur who is staying in Dallas from a long time and yet, never misses an opportunity to visit Ahmedabad. He makes sure to visit his old friends and more importantly eat every Gujarati delicacy that comes on the way, whenever he comes to his hometown-Ahmedabad. He also talked about how he loves to go Sardar Patel Stadium in Gujarat just so to have an ice-cream at 10:00 pm with his family. He has built an amazing career as a top management man, working with one of the finest banks of USA.

We met another humble soul, Mr. Saunakbhai, who had a great experience working with AT&T for a long period in his past. He now has his own thriving business of “mukhvaas” - sweet refreshment which Indians prefer to eat after lunch or dinner generally.

We then proceeded for dinner at “Gopal restaurant” where we had mouth-watering Gujarati delicacies. We were glad to see how passionate the employees were for serving quality food to their customers. They are so generous in nature that they sometimes do not charge even a single dollar for a party of 500 people meant for a good cause. We salute such Indians living in the USA.

Overall, we completely enjoyed our food and the conversations. Anyone in Dallas looking for a great Indian food to order in a large quality, I would highly recommend this restaurant.


Anticipating a productive day tomorrow.

Jai ho! (Let victory be yours)

Thursday 29 June 2017

Day 24 of Mentor on Road, USA

“Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong; that is what we need.
-Swami Vivekananda

Day 24 of Mentor on Road, USA started with a good interaction in Houston with American start-ups. We would soon be working with them and connecting them to India.

Our second event was with Women In Technology International (WITI) in Houston. We discussed on issues related to women empowerment in the USA. We came across many similarities as well as differences in the issues faced by women in both the countries, USA and India.

Carolyn Leighton founded WITI to help women advance by providing access to - and support from - other professional women working in all sectors of WITI started in 1989 as The International Network of Women in Technology and in 2001, evolved into The WITI Professional Association, the world's leading trade association for tech-savvy women. Today, WITI is the premiere global organization empowering women in business and technology to achieve unimagined possibilities.

With a global network of smart, talented women and a market reach exceeding 2 million, WITI has powerful programs and partnerships that provide connections, resources, opportunities and a supportive environment of women committed to helping each other. Along with its professional association of Networks throughout the U.S. and worldwide, including Hong Kong, Great Britain, Australia, and Mexico, WITI delivers value for individuals that work for a company, the government or academia, as well as small business owners.

WITI products and services include: Networking, WITI Marketplace, Career Services/Search, National Conferences and Regional Events, Publications and Resources, Small Business Programs, Research, Bulletin Boards and more.

Mentor on Road met a group of SMBs at Fruition Technology Labs. We were glad to note that the companies were very enthusiastic for competing in the global market. We would soon be connecting them to India. Many companies are at various stages of development. We addressed the several challenges faced by them. Companies that were present belonged to sectors like heath care, finance technology and education technology. The event ended with one to one meetings with those companies.

Fruition, which is also known as "The incubator for ideas", believes in an entrepreneurial ecosystem that nurtures the development of successful profitable companies that create a clear and definite life impact. 

Fruition Technology Labs is a technology commercialization incubator that focuses on life impact start-ups and entrepreneurs. They walk with the companies through the development of their product or business idea(s), help them build their team and connect them with potential funding options. They do all this through their proprietary "5 Steps to Fruition process”.

 Following are the five steps:

1.UNLOCK - Helping the company clearly define the value of their idea.
2.EXPLORE - Helping them to explore the market companies have considered venturing into.
3.PLAN -Time to begin planning the development of their business
4.BUILD - With a great team of hands-on collaborators, they help the companies begin to build
5.LAUNCH - At this stage, the team begins the launch process of their business

Last event of the day in Houston was with Indian Diaspora where Mentor on Road, USA shared the vision of smart villages and issues relating to New India 3.0.

Anticipating an eventful day tomorrow.

Jai Ho! (Let victory be yours)

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Day 23 of Mentor on Road, USA

Know that every time you feel weak, you not only hurt yourself but also the cause. Infinite faith and strength are the only conditions of success.
- Swami Vivekananda

Day 23 of Mentor on Road, USA started early morning as we had a 6 hour long road drive from New Orleans to Houston, Texas which is going to be the 11th city and 18th state of our journey. The journey was pleasant and we enjoyed passing through swamps on both sides in Louisiana.

We started driving on 4th June from Boston and passed through states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Driven 4025 kilometers / 2500 miles till now and will drive total 15,450 kilometers / 9602 miles in total.

Houston is the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States. It is also the largest city in the southern United States and the seat of Harris County

The city was named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas and had commanded and won at the Battle of San Jacinto 25 miles (40 km) east of where the city was established. The burgeoning port and railroad industry, combined with oil discovery in 1901, has induced continual surges in the city's population. In the mid-20th century, Houston became the home of the Texas Medical Center—the world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions—and NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the Mission Control Center is located.

Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. Leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment, outside of New York City, Houston has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other U.S. municipality within its city limits. The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States and 10th among the largest ports in the world. Unlike most places, high oil and gasoline prices are beneficial for Houston's economy, as many of its residents are employed in the energy industry. Houston is the beginning or end point of numerous oil, gas, and products pipelines.

Nicknamed the "Space City", Houston is a 
global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine, and research.

Houston is recognized worldwide for its energy industry—particularly for oil and natural gas—as well as for biomedical research and aeronautics. Renewable energy sources—wind and solar—are also growing economic bases in the city. The Houston Ship Channel is also a large part of Houston's economic base. 
The channel is the conduit for ocean-going vessels between Houston-area terminals and the Gulf of Mexico, and it serves an increasing volume of inland barge traffic. Because of these strengths, Houston is designated as a global city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network and global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. 

Houston is the most diverse city in Texas and has been described as the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the U.S. It is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, which attract more than 7 million visitors a year to the Museum District. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene and
 is one of few United States cities with permanent, professional, resident companies in all major performing arts disciplines: opera (Houston Grand Opera), ballet (Houston Ballet), music (Houston Symphony Orchestra), and theater (The Alley TheatreTheatre Under the Stars).

Our first interaction was with the Indian diaspora in Houston in the evening. The discussion was fairly interactive. Mentor on Road, USA shared the details of developments in New India 3.0 and what Indian origin American citizens can do for India for which they were highly passionate. Also, the smart village adoption program received good response.

Anticipating an eventful day tomorrow as it is packed with four back to back events in Houston.

Jai Ho! (Let victory be yours)

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Day 22 of Mentor on Road,USA

“Do not figure out big plans at first, but, begin slowly, feel your ground and proceed up and up.”
- Swami Vivekananda

Day 22 of Mentor on Road, USA, started with a thought provoking interaction with women owned businesses at New Orleans Business Alliance followed by one to one meetings. They were proud to note that India, which is one of the largest democracies in the world, is moving in the right direction.

A public-private partnership, New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) is the official economic development agency for the City of New Orleans. Now an accredited economic development organization (AEDO), NOLABA was formed in 2010 at the behest of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a coalition of business and civic leaders to employ the best practices in economic development to reposition New Orleans as the ideal intersection of commerce and culture.

NOLABA, a non-profit organization, is led by a 17-member board of directors, composed of a cross section of New Orleans leaders, including the Mayor and representatives of the city’s diverse industries. As the city’s official economic development partnership and the hub of its business community, NOLABA helps inform, educate and prepare companies to capitalize on the many opportunities New Orleans has to offer.

The vision of NOLABA is to reposition New Orleans as the next great American city for business investment, quality of life and economic opportunity.

NOLABA is focused on six key industry clusters:
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Bio-innovation and Health Services
  • Creative Digital Media
  • Sustainable Industries
  • Transport, Trade and Logistics
  • Retail

The second interaction was held with the American businesses at World Trade Centre, organised jointly with US Commercial Service (USCS) and Small Business Administration (SBA). It was a highly interactive session and we completely enjoyed it. Interesting questions were raised on several different sectors. Mentor on Road would soon be working with them and connecting them to Indian businesses.

The World Trade Center of New Orleans (WTCNO) is a non-profit organization of more than 1,000 corporate and individual members which was started in 1943 as International House and in 1945 as International Trade Mart, its two predecessor organizations, which merged in 1985. Dating back to its origins more than 50 years ago, WTCNO was the first of what are today over 300 World Trade Center organizations in nearly 100 countries which are members of the World Trade Centers Association. The Association itself was founded in New Orleans in 1968.

The mission of the World Trade Center, New Orleans, is to facilitate the addition of wealth and jobs in Louisiana through international trade, economic development and allied activities by supporting a prosperous international business climate in Louisiana with advocacy, information, education and stakeholder programs and services, resulting in the retention, recruitment and expansion of Louisiana-based international businesses.

Additionally, numerous dignitaries from throughout the world have visited WTCNO as honorees or program speakers, as well as incoming delegations visiting Louisiana on trade missions or individually from around the globe.

Our third event was with the American start-up companies hosted by Lauchpad-USA. Mentor on Road, USA met 5 start-ups and understood their businesses. We would soon be working with them and connecting them to India.

Launchpad USA is a program of Amcham Finland, an independent, non-governmental and member-funded non-profit Finnish Association. 
Launchpad USA is one-stop-shop for entering the U.S. market smartly, efficiently, and successfully. It is the company’s guide, from start to finish, for doing business in the United States.

The services that Launchpad USA provides are:
  • Provides first-hand expertise and experience to the new companies that are entering in the U.S. as well as to the existing companies in the U.S. to help them steer clear of pitfalls
  • Introduces the new companies entering in the U.S. to the right business contacts who know about doing business in the U.S.
  • Provides practical tools for realistic planning and estimates to the new companies / start-ups

Looking forward to a productive day tomorrow.

Jai Ho! (Let victory be yours)

Monday 26 June 2017

Day 21 of Mentor on Road, USA

“Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison.”
-Swami Vivekananda

New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. It is well known for its distinct French and Spanish Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is also famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras, dating to French colonial times. The city is often referred to as the “most unique in the United States”.

New Orleans has one of the largest and busiest ports in the world, and metropolitan New Orleans is a center of maritime industry. The New Orleans region also accounts for a significant portion of the nation's oil refining and petrochemical production, and serves as a white-collar corporate base for onshore and offshore petroleum and natural gas production.

New Orleans is a center for higher learning, with over 50,000 students enrolled in the region's eleven two- and four-year degree granting institutions. A top-50 research university, Tulane University, is located in New Orleans' Uptown neighborhood.

Metropolitan New Orleans is a major regional hub for the health care industry and boasts a small, globally competitive manufacturing sector. The center city possesses a rapidly growing, entrepreneurial creative industries sector, and is renowned for its cultural tourism. Greater New Orleans, Inc. acts as the first point-of-contact for regional economic development, coordinating between Louisiana's Department of Economic Development and the various provincial business development agencies.

New Orleans was developed as a strategically located trading 
transshipment port, and it remains, above all, a crucial transportation hub and distribution center for waterborne commerce. The Port of New Orleans is the 5th-largest port in the United States based on volume of cargo handled and second-largest in the state after the Port of South Louisiana. It is the 12th-largest in the U.S. based on value of cargo. 

The Port of South Louisiana, also based in the New Orleans area, is the world's busiest in terms of bulk tonnage. When combined with the Port of New Orleans, it forms the 4th-largest port system in volume handled. Many shipbuilding, shipping, logistics, freight forwarding and commodity brokerage firms either are based in metropolitan New Orleans or maintain a large local presence.

Companies either headquartered or with significant operations in New Orleans include: Entergy, Pan American Life Insurance, Pool Corp, 
Rolls-Royce, Newpark Resources, AT&T, TurboSquid, iSeatz, IBM, Navtech, Superior Energy Services, Textron Marine & Land Systems, McDermott International, Pellerin Milnor, Lockheed Martin, Imperial Trading, Laitram, Harrah's Entertainment, Stewart Enterprises, Edison Chouest Offshore, Zatarain's, Waldemar S. Nelson & Co., Whitney National Bank, Capital One, Tidewater Marine, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, Parsons Brinckerhoff, MWH Global, CH2M HILL, Energy Partners Ltd, The Receivables Exchange, GE Capital, and Smoothie King.

Tourism is another staple of the city's economy. Perhaps more visible than any other sector, New Orleans' tourist and convention industry is a $5.5 billion juggernaut that accounts for 40 percent of New Orleans' tax revenues.

Day 21 of Mentor on Road. USA, started with a great interaction with Indian diaspora in New Orleans. Attended the graduation ceremony of Indian origin children organised by American Association of Indian Professionals (AAIP). It was good to meet kids who were extremely smart and talented. They sure would make their parents and both the countries, India and USA proud one day. 

AAIP was founded in 1984 to create a group dedicated to both the professional development of Indian professionals and help others achieve their professional goals, be they high school graduates or new professionals. Some of the major activities in which AAIP engages are: 
  • Organizes high school functions to honour, motivate, and encourage professional ethics among the graduating students of Indian origin
  • Invites well-known motivational speakers to not only inspire the high school students but also the members  
  • Organizes financial seminars on estate planning, taxation, and investing options
  • Organizes college functions to facilitate professional networking among college students of Indian origin
  • Organizes healthcare seminars by distinguished experts
  • Adopted Hoffman Elementary School to assist them in promoting their mission and help under-privileged students
  • Supports George Washington High School with small funds to promote their needs
  • Provides a small amount of funding to the Tulane School of Medicine to promote research in Urology
  • Organizes cultural programs to raise funds necessary to carry out AAIP’s activities
  • AAIP members provide medical assistance (emergency and non-emergency) to many Indian students enrolled at UNO and Tulane

Mentor on Road presented the developments in New India 3.0 and the adoption program of smart villages. A lot of them had shown their interest to work with India. 

Looking forward to an eventful day tomorrow.

Jai Ho! (Let victory be yours)

Day 20 of Mentor on Road, USA

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.”

-Swami Vivekananda

By now from Boston to Tampa to Birmingham we have driven 2200 miles (3640 kilo meters). We are yet to cover 7400 miles (11909 kilo meters) ahead in our journey.

Day 20 of Mentor on Road, USA, is a drive from Birmingham to New Orleans which is going to be the 10th city and 16th state of our tour. Since it’s a Saturday, we decided to take a day off and go for tourism to Red Mountain and Botanical Garden.

Red Mountain
 is a long ridge running southwest-northeast and dividing Jones Valley from Shades Valley south of Birmingham, Alabama. It is part of the Ridge-and-Valley region of the Appalachian Mountains. The Red Mountain Formation of hard Silurian rock strata lies exposed in several long crests, and was named "Red Mountain" because of the rust-stained rock faces and prominent seams of red hematite iron ore.

The mountain was the site of the 
Sloss Mines, which supplied ore to Birmingham's iron furnaces. The best displays of the mountain's geological strata occur at the Twentieth Street cut near the Vulcan statue and at the U.S. Route 31 highway cut leading into the suburb of Homewood. 
Most of Birmingham's television and radio stations have their transmission towers located on Red Mountain. 

Red Mountain is also home to the newly created 
Red Mountain Park, one of the nation's largest urban parks at 1,500 acres (6.1 km2), making it larger than even New York City's Central Park.

We completely enjoyed the Saturday break at the Red Mountain in Birmingham with an 8 miles walk trail in the midst of dense jungle and beautifully flowing water. The atmosphere was delightful with a picturesque sight. They also offer an amazing experience via series of seven exciting zip lines, sky bridges and cable swings across the terrain. 

Then we headed to the Birmingham Botanical Garden. Enjoyed a good family time there.

 Birmingham Botanical Gardens is 67.5 acres of botanical gardens located adjacent to Lane Park at the southern foot of Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. The gardens are home to over 12,000 different types of plants, 25 unique gardens, more than 30 works of original outdoor sculptures, and several miles of walking paths. With more than 350,000 annual visitors, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens qualify as one of Alabama's top free-admittance tourist attractions.

The gardens include a garden center that has a library, auditorium, Linn-Henley Lecture Hall, Blount Education Center, Gerlach Plant Information Center, Alabama Cooperative Extension System office, Arrington Children’s Plant Adventure Zone, and a restaurant.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens began as an idea prior to 1960. The Birmingham mayor of that time, James W. Morgan, led an effort to establish the gardens on a 69-acre portion of unused city property east of the Birmingham Zoo on the side of Red Mountain. The garden officially opened in 1963. The Birmingham Botanical Society, now known as the Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens, was established in 1964 with a mission of helping the city to support and improve the garden.

It was time to get the first car service of Mentor on Road, USA - oil change, brakes check, speed check, wiper fluid, tyre pressure check, all systems reboot, vehicle identification number updated. Now we are on our way to New Orleans.

Anticipating an eventful day tomorrow.

Jai Ho! (Let victory be yours)