The Next Facebook? Pek Pongpaet on Creating a Successful Startup

When he was a kid, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Pek Pongpaet bounced around the world, living in Asia, Europe and finally ending up in San Francisco. Along the way, he became a martial arts instructor and even played one of the characters in the Mortal Kombat video game. But the reason Forbes and Wired Magazine wrote about him is because of his other life as an internet entrepreneur. In the latest episode of the AlterNow Podcast Series, Pek tells us about what it takes to launch a successful company in the age of Facebook and Google, and how he created his latest venture, Pinstagram, a leading mashup app that brings “Instagram” to the web and the iPad.

For Pek, the world of Silicon Valley has changed. For one, it’s no longer driven by venture capitalists because of a few simple reasons: the cost of technology has gone down significantly because of cloud products like Amazon EC2, Terremark and Eucalyptus; with open-source tools now available, labor costs have also plummeted because you don’t need in-house infrastructure development; and finally, the emergence of new ways of generating capital like crowd sourcing.  Pek details how an entrepreneur named Scott Wilson designed a strap for the iPod Nano and used Kickstarter to raise almost a million dollars. Thus he was able to boot strap his product and now they have a company totally focused on making different versions and different models of this strap.

As someone who was involved with the idea labs at Accenture and the design of the Tesla electric car, Pek takes us into how ideas are generated — more in the casual encounter than in the structured meeting, where you’re inviting in perspectives from outside your industry, and often in very compressed periods of time. Pek describes ideating a product in a weekend and having 2 clients by Monday, though there was no technology yet – just schematics. Essentially he sold it using an advertisement.

Finally, Pek offered us a master class in the new world of mobile communication and social media. In a year and a half mobile Internet traffic will surpass desktop Internet traffic, and there are more smart phones around the U.S. than feature phones). Offering examples from Amazon and Facebook, Pek opines on the extent of social media’s influence and its prospects for the future as people debate the Facebook IPO and the continuing battle between Apple and Google.

To hear the full interview with Pek, visit the AlterNow Podcast Series here.