The Entrepreneurial Traveler – See For Yourself

1 Jun

Every single day, we’re bombarded with mind-blowing facts about the developing world, notably China and India. These superlative statements attest to the ridiculous growth of everything – economies, size of middle class, anything related to consumerism- and if you read between the lines, the message is loud and clear: if you want to make a lot of money, the next (hundred) billion dollars are in China and India.

Ok, I get the point; China and India are waking giants. They are grumpy after their naps and want some milk, dammit! But how am I, humble wannabe serial entrepreneur, supposed to design a business around the unmet needs of hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indian peoples if I have no clue what those latent needs are?

The answer: ENTREPRENEURIAL TOURISM. You know what the Great Wall and the Taj Mahal look like (great, long,old and white, symmetrical, tall, respectively), so why not cut to the chase and find out how you can ‘double down on ’04 Google stock’, if you will?

Tourism is a significant contributor to GDP in both China and India, but for the most part, tourism in those countries is like going to the zoo, where you get up and close with a different culture, but only so close, and in a very limited capacity. There are myriad reports describing in detail the intricacies of Chinese and Indian culture, and discussing what business models work best in those countries and who the ideal consumers are, but really the best way for anyone to experience and learn from these cultures is to visit there himself.

What industry are you interested in? Hospitality, food and beverage, retail, apparel? Depending on your interest and budget, I could imagine a 2-6 week immersive trip that is both a macro cultural and social overview, as well as a micro ethnographic study of consumer behavior. If this service were available to me now, I would select an option that provides a multilingual tour guide, visits half a dozen Chinese or Indian cities, explores the complete supply chain and all its components: offices, factories, and stores.

This service would appeal to corporations who would rather send a strategist out in the field rather than rely on the secondhand information from research firms, as well as universities, students and wealthy explorers looking for the next big proverbial mountain to climb.  I think there is ample demand for such a service, but the challenge would be finding suitable local hires who are well-traveled in their homelands, knowledgeable and diplomatic.


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