INK 2016, Kaleidoscope

13 Oct 2016 by

INKtalks 2016 – Kaleidoscope, 16th to 18th September, 2016, Goa.

Kaleidoscope, described as a constantly changing pattern or sequence of elements, was an apt theme of the weekend that was INK! As an enthused bunch of first-timers there, Sumera, Pradeep, Nilay and I animatedly discussed what we expected from the weekend. The word ‘inspiration’ surfaced more times than most others, and to say we got what we expected would be an understatement.

The space was curated and catered to every kind of stimulated mind – tech, finance, arts, business, healthcare, they had everything covered. The concept of colours was evident not only in the décor but in the program schedule of the 3 jam-packed days ahead of us.

Lakshmi Pratury - an entrepreneur, curator, speaker, and self-described “people collector” kicked off the event, as usual, with one of her stories. She had everyone at the venue and engaged at 9 am on a Friday, needless to say she is full of tales, warmth and wisdom in equal measure.
The next 3 days were divided into colour-coded (themed) sessions, with umbrella topics that bound the incredibly diverse speakers with a string. Below are my highlights of those 3 days:

Yellow Brick Road – Education.

Kenta Koga – Founder and CEO, Gakko

Kenta wears the hats of a designer, innovator, educator and a magician amongst several others that unfolded as the audience got better acquainted with him.

Coming from a structured Asian culture - he dared to ask the question “How can we make education magical?” In his words, he wants to create a “travelling circus of education”.

Gakko – a collective of thinkers and makers working cross-functionalities, with the purpose of questioning the way people learn. They strive to make education an experience, with experimental workshops and summer camps across the world.

Camp Gakko, Gakko Project

He left the audience with one question: “If you could be a high school teacher for a day what would you be?”

Pink of Health – Healthcare.

Pratik Shah – MIT Media Lab

Pratik works at the intersection of nanotechnology, imaging, low-cost diagnostics, entrepreneurship and scalable solutions for improving human health. He is leading the health and technology efforts run by the MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture Group. He is developing and deploying the next-generation of non-ionizing clinical imaging systems powered by computer vision and machine learning platforms. 

The team had a vision to build technology for global impact, here’s what they have accomplished so far:

  1. Biomarkers & Health – Dental and Oral Cancer
  2. Non-ionising X-ray for teeth
  3. Melanoma Detection with Skin sensing
  4. Otitis media – Screening with Aurito

Open source hardware and software, with a genuine fire to make healthcare simpler, more accessible and transformational.

Need I say more?

Samim Rizvi – International Cyclist

Imagine our surprise when on to the stage enters Samim, salt-and-pepper haired, on a bike! While we all flew in from various locations, he rode a bike to the venue… from Bangalore, 610 kms in 21 hours, non-stop.

Samim is an international cyclist and the first Indian to qualify and compete in Race Across America - a 5000 kilometer race that spans across 12 days.

He wore a huge smile and the easy nervousness of someone who doesn’t often take to the stage (only podiums), and said “I came in as a bike messenger to deliver the seeds of motivation” and he did!

Samim Rizvi, Race Across America

His mantra for success: Motivation – Obsession – Habit – Practice – Perfection.

Avinash Saurabh – CEO and Co-founder,

He opened with a simple question – Why do 2 people who had the same motivation to begin a task end up having completely different outcomes? Why do some of us end up sticking to our intensive work-out schedule, diet and all around good lifestyle, while some of us struggle to not have that extra bar of chocolate even when we’re full?
The answer: Because evolution has failed us!
While initial gusto and guilt work well for one-time activities, in order to develop a behaviour pattern and stick to it, there must be a context for that desired behaviour, combined with the right triggers for you. Personalization is key.

Avinash is passionate about research in the field of behavior change, behavioral economics and behavioral psychology. have been able to help over 75,000 people spread across 7 countries, form healthier habits. 

Green Arrow – Biodiversity.

Island of rocks, Prasanjeet Yadav

Prasanjeet Yadav – Photographer

What is a picture, he asked us – “Taking a moment from time, to give it back to infinity” he said.

Prasenjeet is a photographer, researcher and storyteller based out of India. He holds a Masters degree in Molecular Biology and has pursued research in Molecular Ecology for several years at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India. Early in his scientific career, he realized that his true passion lay in storytelling. He now combines his experience in research with his photography skills to popularize ecological and conservation sciences in the wider society.

Spending 3 hours to find the world’s smallest frog, catching a meteor-light on his camera while he slept atop a hill, and discovering species of flora and fauna are just some of the things he does.

He left us with the most beautiful realization – He used to believe every piece of work (picture) was made up of 3 components – Technicality, subject and the aesthetic sense of the artist.
He now realizes there are only 2 parts – Reality and dream, and a beautiful picture is one where you can’t tell the difference.

Silver Lining – Emerging from Adversity.

Akshay Nanavati – Veteran, Adventurer, Entrepreneur, Creator of “Fearvana”

A recovery from drug addiction, PTSD from fighting the war in Iraq, and a battle with alcohol that pushed him to the brink of suicide, Akshay decided to dedicate his life to mastering the forces that drive human behavior. 

He challenged us to imagine, when do our best moments occur as humans? “
When one pushes their body and mind to accomplish something: a voluntary struggle.

His message was simple and profound, no emotion is inherently good or bad, any of them can be turned into our ally. The true challenge is how easily we label/associate emotions with something, and thus how we respond to them. We avoid adversity. But instead, if we transformed adversity into a worthwhile challenge, fear could be an access point to all kinds of rewards.

He left us with this: Choose a meaningful risk for Fearvana is the art of learning to find bliss in the face of struggle by using coping mechanisms that allow you to embrace fear.

Mahesh Jadav – Founder, Mahesh Foundation

Mahesh was living breathing proof that kindness knows no age, gender, caste, creed or bounds. In Belgaum, he was moved by the plight of children with HIV when he first got a detailed look into their lives and problems back in 2008 whilst he was on a volunteering project. During this process he observed that there were many HIV + children, most of them orphans with no shelter and no one to care for them. 

He had no background with the condition, nor any specific personal driver to work in this field. He too was a victim of conditioned perceptions of “AIDS” and how it happens only to “bad people”. He found it in himself to learn everything he could about the condition, sensitize and educate himself and all those around him.

He began adopting HIV children and considered opening a hostel for them. Unable to find good rentals owing to the associated social stigma, Mahesh persuaded his family to help him provide accommodation to the children in his home.

Today the Mahesh Foundation has 55 HIV+ infected children in their home, 1,600 children who benefit through educational and nutritional support, over 28,000 HIV+ infected people positively impacted through various programs & 60+ full time employees working hard to achieve their goals.

Anirudh Sharma – Entrepreneur, Graviky Labs

In 2011 Anirudh started the LeChal project. Anirudh won the MIT Tech Review TR35 ‘Innovator of the Year’ award.

Anirudh’s love for using technology to inspire wonder has taken him to MIT Media Lab, where he invents across disciplines. Currently, he's working on a printer that harvests ink from pollution at Graviky Labs. He also dabbles in magic, herpetology, motorcycles, and plays the tabla.

Air Ink, Graviky Labs

If that doesn’t sound rad enough, he even had a stall at the venue, where different markers with ink from pollution were available for all of us to draw with!

Red Spark – Technology.

Crystal Rose – Co-founder, Sensay

An entrepreneur and technologist based in Los Angeles, California, she has founded a digital interactive agency and co-founded two technology startups. Sensay, an interactive platform that lets you message strangers around the world about anything. She was previously involved in the Code for America Brigade in Los Angeles (Code for LA) supporting open government and civic hacking for the Mayor's Office.

The future of the world isn’t artificial, it’s human. Why aren’t more of us talking about Human Intelligence that is aided by AI (Artificial intelligence)?

Crystal showed us a video of a robot in training at Boston Dynamics, and everyone in the audience had humanized the robot and felt terrible when it was being trained with force. She reminded us all that the folly of attaching sentiments to a technology can be dangerous, as they are machines, and instead of allowing them to “dominate the world”, do allow them to take away trivial jobs, so that mankind can focus on bigger, real problems.

Boston Dynamics 


Grey Matter – The Mind.

Kunal Shah – Founder and Chairman, Freecharge

Kunal Shah graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Mumbai and briefly studied towards an MBA before dropping out to become an entrepreneur. Kunal’s first startup was Paisaback, which provided cash back promotions for organised retailers. He then founded FreeCharge in 2010 alongside Sandeep Tandon, after observing the potential of online recharges in an emerging market. In April 2015, FreeCharge was acquired by Snapdeal for an estimated amount of $400 million.

What asked: Why do so many start-ups fail? Because they are inefficient.

His model of efficiency (so amazingly simple, hence even more adoptable!):

Delta 4: Difference in efficiency (solution)

Old-solution (scored x by users)

New-solution (scored y by users)

Delta: [y - x] should be = 4+, in order for solution to be adopted at scale.

Habit-formation: Form a habit in a user that cannot be replaced. 

UBP v/s USP: While USP is a unique selling proposition, UBP is a unique brag-worthy proposition. Citing the example of TrueCaller, the TrueCaller app wasn’t downloaded because of ads or any marketing, it was all word-of-mouth. “Everyone is trying to get you to move away from the inefficiency and those who have, brag about it to others who haven’t” he said.

High tolerance: Even if there are glitches, the user behaviour doesn’t change. Eg. You might have faced problems with IRCTC, but that doesn’t mean you will go back to the ticketing counter.

He also said, don’t look at a pot of gold that has several players as validation. Even if no one owns market share, people have chipped away at the pot. Look for a pot that no one is looking at yet!

Sekou Andrews – Poet

Challenging the concept of “money” in our world, and how we all experience it, using words to stir emotions in every audience member there, allowing us to participate in his story with him, and take away so much more than entertainment.

Sekou is an elementary schoolteacher turned actor, musician, national poetry slam champion, entrepreneur, and now award-winning Poetic Voice. On any given day you may now find him presenting an original talk for international marketing executives, giving a keynote speech at a leadership conference, or performing pieces for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard.

Sekou's work has been featured on media outlets such as ABC World News, MSNBC, HBO, Good Morning America, Showtime, MTV and BET, and he has performed privately for prominent individuals such as Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones, Larry King, Hillary Clinton, Norman Lear, Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, and Coretta Scott King and family. He does more than inspire us with his story; he inspires us with our story. 

INK 2016, Kaleidoscope — Studio 5B Sekou Andrews, TedMed
Healthcare and the heart

Golden Age – The Future.

Brock Pierce – Chairman, Bitcoin Foundation

Brock Pierce is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur with an extensive track record of founding, advising and investing in disruptive businesses. He pioneered the market for digital currency in games and has raised more than $200 million for companies he founded. Brock is an early investor in Bitcoin, founding board member of Omni, and one of the largest investors in the Ethereum crowd sale. He is the Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and founder and Managing Partner of Block-chain Capital, the first sector-focused venture fund that invests in Block-chain technology companies (more than 40 to date) and the Bitcoin ecosystem.

How to learn all things (well at least start) Bitcoin: Understand the block-chain – Buy/Invest in Bitcoin – Connect to Ethereum – Buy something – Send it abroad – Teach someone else.

A parallel digital economy that is decentralized and strives to be self-stabilizing. Sounds easy enough right?... (I’m still reading about this everyday!)

Chasing Rainbows – The Unconventional.

Kalyani Khona – Co-founder, Inclov

Kalyani comes with a simple but beautiful dream – That no one should have to come home to an empty house unless they want to. To connect people around the world, regardless of their “disabilities”, or rather using them as a match-making criteria!

Kalyani is the Co-Founder of Inclov, the world's first matchmaking app for people with disability and health disorders. Inclov is accessible to people with visual impairment and cerebral palsy amongst others. The app matches people on the basis of cure availability, medical condition, level of independence and lifestyle choices.

Adam Sadowsky – Creative Director, Syyn Labs

Possibly the “coolest” person we encountered at the conference. He lets his work speak for itself (with an incredible funny bone to go hand in hand with it).

Time to acquaint yourself with the Rube Goldberg Machine – a device, contraption, invention that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a really simple task in the most complex way possible!

Google Science Fair, Syyn Labs

Adam Sadowsky is Creative Director and founder of Syyn Labs, an award-winning art & engineering production company that specializes in unexpected and jaw-dropping kinetic installations for ads, viral videos, commercial spaces, events, and whenever the mood strikes. Clients include Google, Red Bull, Target, Allstate, Sears, ESPN, Ford, Chevy, and Willy Wonka.

Adam is responsible for designing the machine and co-directing the music video for OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass”, designing and directing the “Athlete Machine” video for Red Bull, and bungee jumping a car off a 35-meter tower for a live commercial for Chevy that ran during the 2012 Superbowl (We got to watch the blooper videos of these shoots and they were nothing short of brilliance in hilarity).

The While Collective – The Arts.

Nirali Kartik – Musician

Nirali is an Indian Classical Vocalist from Mumbai. Her horizons expanded when she formed a world music act called 'MaatiBaani', with her husband Kartik Shah (a music Composer and Producer). MaatiBaani literally means ‘language of the earth’ and the duo collaborate with musicians all over the globe; through the internet. Each song is a story in itself and often speak of ‘one love’.


INK 2016, Kaleidoscope — Studio 5B A song that has literally travelled places, a song lovingly handcrafted, a song that urges you to Love, forgetting all the differences! Balma features 11 musicians from 5 countries.
- MaatiBaani

After these inspirational talks, coffee-table interactions with other enthusiasts, social evenings with Jazz music one night, Bollywood the next, and so much more. The weekend came to an amazing end with a collaborative performance with several INK fellows and speakers of the year.
As Lakshmi said, sometimes it’s not about the altitude reached, but the journey travelled, and travel we did.