All It Takes Is To Inspire That One Kid

March 14, 2018

A shout-out to all the startup founders who make the time to present their work to kids. And a shout-out to the families who make the time to take their kids to meet these innovators, and participate with their kids in this uplifting and enlightening shared experience.

We have had the privilege of meeting in person, or via the web over a hundred very special startup founders from across the nation. What makes them special is the humility with which they come to a local public library to present their work to a young audience. This has been happening in the form of community events held in public libraries across several cities on both coasts, and in the mid-Atlantic, through a carefully curated citizen-led program where kids meet cool startups.

Rob Povolny, Founder and President, Fresco Foods, Inc.

These events give us an insight into how easily parents in various localities are willing or able to embrace a unique way of getting their kids to learn about a future that these innovators are building.

In some localities these kids’ events have a packed room all the time. The events in some areas have followers who make it to as many events as possible when held with a short drive. It helps that we have been able to avoid repeating a startup founder who has already presented in a region, making each event a unique and exciting learning opportunity.

In some cities, we have parents who contact us and ask us when we will bring AlligatorZone to their city.

In some cities, we have mixed results. Some events are very well attended, filling rooms to capacity, and others are sparsely attended. In some cities they have been very poorly attended. The reasons for this vary from place to place and from time to time.

A broken foot didn’t deter these fans of startups to drive an hour to attend this AlligatorZone session.

An innovative event program that is hard to describe because of its many layers of value derived by kids, their family members and the presenting startup founders, has to still compete for family-time and mindshare with the traditional leisure-time pursuits of families such as baseball, soccer, and ballet. That does not stop parents from showing up when they can. Perhaps we can cross out ballet.

Luther Parker, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Lubotics

In some cities, we have seen only women bring their kids to these innovation events. In some locations people do not come because they did not find transportation.

Despite these variations, the one constant we have is that the startup founders who agree to present to the youth always show up and they present their creations to the kids with great patience.

Shane Vermette, the inventor of RightShears

They present their work with the same enthusiasm and dedication, whether to a room packed with parents and kids or a room with just a few families who have taken the pains to drive their kids to meet the innovators.

Jeremy Scheinberg, Cofounder of TROBO

The startup founders give selflessly of themselves. They give their time on a weekday evening or a weekend. They share their wisdom. They stay approachable. Often, they are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the questions coming from the digital natives in the events. Many a time, they leave with fresh insights. However, they always leave the events feeling uplifted.

It’s a labor of love for the startup founders, and for us.

Therefore, we salute all the startup founders who consider it worthwhile to spend a couple of hours inspiring our kids and the accompanying family members at AlligatorZone’s event programs.

Murilo Amaral, Co-Founder of Cargo42

Because, all it takes is for just one kid to get inspired to create something that transforms the world for the better, to make this massive collective effort from each community completely worth it. Or for thousands of inspired kids to make small incremental innovations. Perhaps we may even see thousands of revolutionary innovations by the kids, each of which transform the world in some uniquely positive way.

Alastair Hood Ph.D., CEO and founder of Verdafero

Having stated the above, one must admit that many of the startup founders enjoy takeaways too. They answer questions and have honest conversations when they are presenting to the kids; kids who happen to be digital natives merely seeking to understand the world they will inherit. The startup founders learn new lessons from looking at their own worlds through the eyes of the kids — enough lessons to fill a book. Stay tuned.

The writer of this article, Ramesh Sambasivan is the co-founder of AlligatorZone®, where kids meet cool startups, a nationwide face-to-face community platform that brings together startup founders and school-age children to help the kids get a peek into the minds of innovators who are creating the future. What began as a passion project is now touring several cities and serving communities through free inspirational gatherings in public libraries for families. He is also the principal at SiliconGlades, a business innovation and design firm helping organizations transform themselves into formidable sales-machines through operational excellence and a story-telling system for not just the entire organization, but also for the communities it serves.

What our youngsters can learn from this month’s AlligatorZone in Silicon Valley, featuring the high tech woman entrepreneur ‘connecting the world with tiny satellites’

March 4, 2018

This month’s AlligatorZone in Palo Alto, CA, will feature Sara Spangelo, Co-founder and CEO of Swarm Technologies, a new start-up developing the world’s smallest two-way communications satellites. (Parents can register at

AlligatorZone, where kids meet cool startups, offers free public events regularly in various cities for startup founders to do a product-show-and-tell for youngsters and engage them in a free-wheeling conversation.

These gatherings offer invaluable lessons for families with youngsters, because one never knows what will inspire our children to become change-makers and innovators. Sometimes the impact can’t be measured directly, but they can be felt.

As parents ourselves, we notice that the nice thing about AlligatorZone is how it takes away the burden from a parents’ shoulders of having to talk to a youngster about following the example of someone who is going great things — only to be met a glazed look in the kids’ eyes or the rolling of a teen’s eye, and instead actually allows a family to enjoy a shared social experience that’s very enriched with meaningful interaction without anyone preaching to our kids.

As in Tampa Bay’s sessions this month, for Silicon Valley also, at the March 25th, 2018 event in Palo Alto’s Rinconada Library, we believe that having Sara as a presenter will not only be a great inspiration for our daughters in their formative years, but also for youngsters to know the value of higher education.

At the event, we believe that the youngsters will also learn about satellite communications technology (of course), about what a career path that winds through Google X and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) can lead to, and what the challenges are with making devices connected and communicating with one another.

We believe the youngsters will also learn how the sky is the limit when one is a continuous learner of technologies. From Sara’s linkedin profile: Her research interests include analytical modeling, simulation, multi-disciplinary optimization, stochastic scheduling, Model-Based Systems Engineering, GPS and tracking for small satellites, and optimal path planning with solar-powered UAV applications. Top 32 Canadian astronaut finalist in 2017.

Registration is required for each AlligatorZone event. Parents can use this link to register and reserve seats for the whole family:

Sign up for our newsletter ‘AlligatorZone Almanac’ to keep up.

What Our Youngsters Can Learn from the Women-Owned Startups featured in March 2018 AlligatorZone event in Tampa

March 4, 2018

AlligatorZone® is where kids meet cool startups. We put out a (usually) monthly newsletter, viz., the AlligatorZone Almanac. We are going to try housing the content of the newsletter at Medium to make it easier for people to read and share it. The newsletter will point to this blog, allowing for shorter newsletters. Each segment of the Almanac (such as ‘As Seen At AlligatorZone’) will be a separate post which will allow us to attempt a weekly newsletter pointing to this blog. Hope you like this paced approach.

What our youngsters can learn from the startups featured in Tampa this month, viz., Global Safety Management and WeCraftBox.

Here’s what kids can learn from observing AlligatorZone’s product show-and-tell by the founders of startups being featured this month.

On Saturday, March 24, 2018 in Tampa Bay, Florida (parents sign up here):

Julia MacGregor, MS MBA, President and CEO, Global Safety Management will be presenting her startup to youngsters first.

Kids will have an opportunity to have a conversation, in very simple terms to understand how software helps process manufacturing, the industrial use of chemicals, and how being methodical can not only be a habit keeps people safe in everyday use of chemicals — but also a life-skill.

We also believe that seeing woman leaders making the world better sends a positive message to our daughters.

Betsy Wild, Founder and CEO, We Craft Box will also be presenting her startup in Tampa Bay on March 24, 2018.

From Betsy, the youngsters will learn that if they are facing a problem, it is very likely that there are others who are facing the same problem, and if they they can come up with a solution, it may serve a lot of other people. They will also learn that humans are creatures of habit, and one way to sell a product that spreads happiness is to make its use a habit and include an element of surprise — because we seem to love the anticipation of opening a box.