TFS 007 - Varun Jain

 

JUMP INTO THE FUTURE

Varun is the Head of Early-Stage Fund of Qualcomm Ventures. In this episode, he makes us jump into the future to imagine how cities will look with autonomous vehicles and how it will have a dramatic impact on our lives.

  Varun Jain interviewed by Sylvie Gendreau during Startupfest in Montreal for They Make Me Smarter, the podcast of The New School of Creativity.

Varun Jain interviewed by Sylvie Gendreau during Startupfest in Montreal for They Make Me Smarter, the podcast of The New School of Creativity.

I met Varun Jain at Startupfest in Montreal where he was a keynote speaker, one of the best among those I had the opportunity to listen to. Varun is the Head of Early-Stage Fund of Qualcomm Ventures. In this episode, he makes us jump into in the future and imagine how cities will look with autonomous vehicles and how it will have a dramatic impact on our lives. If you haven’t listened to the first episode with Varun, What was disruptive for the past three years, please do so. You will discover how Varun made Qualcomm Ventures become the third investor in Cruise Automation, the startup sold to GM for $1 billion $ seventeen months ago. A fascinating story!

In this episode, Varun reflects on what he shared in his talk, The future of Automation and Robotics. “We are at the threshold of a dramatic shift. One in fifty Americans drives a truck for a living. Cities make over US$6 billion a year in speeding tickets. And there are billions of dollars in taxicab medallions. Add up the impact of self-driving cars, and it's going to transform everything about society—from where we put service stations, to the value of houses with garages, to the very idea of car ownership. Qualcomm Ventures' Varun Jain has been at the center of this disruption.

Qualcomm invests in all stages of startups, the fields that they like most are machine learning and robots.

Music: Smash feat. Ridley — Future People (AFP Anthem) (VOLAC Remix)

The automation has the reputation that will cause labor loss but on the other hand, it will create new opportunities for those involved in this shift of technology.

For the past three years, there were some huge acquisitions, strategic partnerships which increased the valuation of those companies. On the other hand, it attracted a lot of talent to work to develop those new technologies.

There is a lot of excitement and paranoia around this subject and the regulation that will be required. What does safety mean? What new regulations will be needed? Within the next three years, Varun says that we will have autonomous cars in controlled environments. This has already been tested in some cities. 

Despite of the investment of big companies, there are a lot of startups searching for new solutions. This doesn’t mean that the biggest ones will disrupt the technology. The trucking industry is the one that might be the first one to use the autonomous trucks. On the roads, there are fewer obstacles. And the labor cost is a significant part of the total cost of the industry. Varun Jain explained about how other industries could be affected. If his scenario is correct, more people will probably live more outside cities. Hotels on the road might suffer because you’ll be able to sleep in your car.

When autonomous cars become a reality, which Qualcomm Ventures expect to happen within 5 to 10 years, the impact won’t be limited to just the car industry, Varun thinks it will be a systemic shift which will change the way we live our lives, particularly in urban environments.

If we were to consider how our lives will change in an autonomous vehicle world, Varun and his team believe that there are five or six major changes that we will see and these are all dramatic shifts which will not just change our everyday life but also the future of certain pre-existing multibillion dollar industries that will be phenomenally affected once this technology becomes a day to day reality.

Varun gave the examples:

When your car becomes your office, your living-room or your bedroom, the time you spend to commute is not wasted but rather used for relaxing, or working on your laptop, or doing something else.
— Varun Jain

People will then worry less about the time they spend going from point A to point B. Qualcomm Ventures thinks that it will cause them to think: Rather than living in a small two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, which is close to my work, why don’t I live in a four-bedrooms mansion in a suburban area 60 minutes away from work because the 60 minutes I commute everyday is actually my work time and I can be productive.”

“We fundamentally believe that the first autonomous vehicle will be in the form of sharing services. Moving toward, airplanes, business models, fleet services. We believe the overall number of cars in cities will come down over a period of time as more and more people start thinking of transportation as a service, as opposed to something that needs to be owned. That will not just have an impact on the number of cars in the city but this will also have an impact on adjacent businesses like, for example, parking garages. In major urban cities, 30% of overall real-estate is used for parking. When will move to transportation as a service world all that space will be freed up.

It will have an impact not only on the real-estate in the cities but also on the quality of life. At that point, it will become much easier to move around in the cities for people and families. It will be much more pleasant.
— Varun Jain

In the next two or three years, commercial autonomous cars will be services offered in cities where autonomous vehicles are tested now. Over the next five years, it will become mainstream.

The future generation won’t learn how to drive a car.
— Varun Jain

It’s difficult to evaluate but experts think that accidents will decrease by 60% to 80%.

In conclusion, Varun said that It is a fantastic time if you understand the systematic shift that is happening. He invited us to think what is next not by building those vehicles but imagining new services and products.

NOW YOU PLAY!

I recommend that you read the book by Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future to fully understand at what point we are living in an amazing time.

Download the Checklist-1 for Future People to reflect on the first three forces explained by Kevin Kelly and start imagining new products and services for this new world. Do not miss the next episode with the futurist Robert Scoble, it will be another big jump into the future.

Let us know what you think? Do you have ideas how you can contribute to the future? What new products or services should we create? Leave me comments, I would like to know what are your thoughts on the subject.


The creative mind trick of the day!


Sylvie's Best Book about the future:

Kelly, Kevin, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
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