Travel

Bigger than Yak Whisperer?

Zack_austin
 

It figures that after nearly 3 weeks in Mongolia, the only person who was able to track me down was a recruiter.  I was knocking back a pint of Chinggis Light getting ready to catch our flight out of Ulaan Bataar and suddenly my cell phone goes off. 

It's a Kleiner-Perkins backed social networking startup looking for a CEO.  They claim it's gonna be bigger than www.YakWhisperer.com. Heck it's gonna be the next Google.  Or maybe Facebook is the next Google and this is gonna be the next Facebook.    

It was clear the recruiter didn't really understand the business, blathering on the way he did.  "That's why they need a guy like you."  Before I could tell him I'd think about it, the call got dropped.  Hey, sometimes AT&T does the right thing after all.  Like total Schadenfreude Zeitgeist.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... 

Join us next week for a blues & BBQ adventure in Austin.

Or as they say in Mongolia: бурхан оршоо бутын чинээ сахал урга.  
God bless you and may your mustache grow like brushwood.

--Yours truly, Johnny Dollar.
  July, 2010


Lake Hovsgol Photos

Lake Hovsgol was amazing. This was the highlight of our stay in Mongolia and a great way to end things. Although the drive out is not for the faint-hearted, it is a beautiful national park with great hiking. We  saw some ancient Deer Stones near the town of Mörön which were 3,000 years old.  We also met with a family of reindeer herders, though that's gotta be a tough life.

As this was an extension to the National Geographic tour we were on, it was just a few of us, which made for a relaxed pace.  There were notably fewer lawyers, but way more mosquitoes.

Life is always a trade-off.

And here are some photos of people from around the country.


Art in the Capital



Photos from Ulaan Bataar including the National Gallery and the Memorial Museum of Victims of Politcal Repression.

In 1937 Mongolia was run as a Soviet puppet state and Stalin launched purges with brutal ferocity that resulted in the closure and destruction of more than 700 monasteries and the death of more than 30,000 people.

Oddly enough, the purges were implemented by Mongolia's now controversial leader Choibalsan.  His statue remains in front of the Mongolia University and is shown in the photos above.



Latitude:47.91831
Longitude:106.92281

Click the link below to see on a map.
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=47.91831,106.92281&ll=47.91831,106.92281&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Big-Time Opportunities in Mongolia

Starbucks_china
(Starbucks: China, Summer 2007)

I don't know why the Kleiner-Perkins guys didn't think of this earlier, but I think they could have turned the www.yakwhisperer.com social networking site into a massive opportunity here in Mongolia instead of selling it off as soon as the going got tough.  I mean, where would the Yak herders and Yak shavers be if they did the same thing.  I'll tell ya, they wouldn't be cooling their jets playing 18 holes at Half Moon Bay waiting for Google to acquire their latest Twitter-with-geo-location-group-shopping-discount-social-network-with-a-heart over-funded startup.  

No wonder so many VCs are floundering. It's like they're the Babushka apparatchik kazakh who cant get out of their own Khozraschet.  The only creative guy in the whole business is Roger McNamee and that's because he's out of his mind. But I digress.

The thing is, to tackle this market requires more out-of-the-box thinking than a lot of VCs are used to.  But it's just a question of opening the Kimono of the Keiretsu zaibatsu approach to a more mobile, nomadic population.  I'm thinking...

  • Distributed virtual community Yak Shaving
  • Starbucks downloadable Yak-shakes 
  • Nando's Peri-Peri Yak with free home delivery
    (Ride it, then eat it)

C'mon folks.  Work with me here.  Add your own ideas to the comments below.


My Advice to a Young Man Named Jake

My Advice to a young man named Jake

How do you distill forty years of knowledge?
And pack it for Jake to take with him to college?
For better or worse
I've chosen verse
In just five lines I hope you'll acknowledge

My Advice to a young man named Jake
The world's an adventure in which you partake
Now the secret to a great life
Marry a wonderful wife
And for God's sake spend less than you make!


Gobi Desert Photos


Our visit to the Gobi Desert was a tremendous experience. We stayed at several different Ger camps and met with local families. Temperatures were reasonable and we had some light rain, which was much appreciated.  Saw lots of camels, sheep, goats.  Unfortunately, still no Yak sitings. 

I'm beginning to worry about the long-term viability of this site.  I may need to raise a series B round if I don't find some yaks soon. We'll be heading north shortly to Lake Hovsgol, so hopefully that will work out.

Still, even noted National Geographic writer and Yakologist Jeremy Schmidt did not appear to be optimistic.

Also, please feel free to leave comments below. Note, I do not take responsibilities for unsolicited time-share pitches or other investment opportunities.


Gobi Desert Biathlon

Gobi Desert Biathlon

Gobi Desert Biathlon
To help with grassroots marketing we held the first annual National Geographic / Yak Whisperer "Badral Xtreme Desert Death Race" yesterday in the Gobi. We had 12 two-man teams competing in a combined 10k dune foot race followed by a 40k camel race. Unfortunately we had a 50% drop out rate due to a stomach virus making it's way through the group.

I was glad that we attracted a few locals to take part. I probably should have been more clear on the rules since motorcycles had a definite advantage on this terrain. I suppose they really wanted to win that first prize of 5 quarts of fermented Airag.

So the winners were:
1. Dambyn Ganbayar, Dambyn Tömörtsog
2. Dambyn Otgonbayar, Dambyn Otgonbaatar
3. Tserenbat, Naranbaatar

A couple of French teams still haven't made it back. There's a chance they'll show up before the sand storm, otherwise I have to mark them as DNF. But in any case, I hope they read their waiver. We left a couple cans of Grape Fanta out for them by the finish line just in case.
Finally, special thanks to our sponsors: Chinggis Light ("the beer to have when you're conquering continents"), Pringles and Immodium.

PS. Still no Yaks sited. Hope to hell Christo was wrong.