These Investors And Techies Took A Winter Trip To Alaska To Escape The Silicon Valley Bubble

Paul Bragiel

Photo: Mbwana Alliy

Sometimes the best way to think outside the bubble, is to escape it — and go where Northern lights shine and where reindeer sausage is plentiful.Mbwana Alliy, who is Tanzanian by birth, loves Alaska. The independence and scrappiness of the people makes him feel at home. 

He’s moving back to Africa to run the Savannah Fund, sub-Saharan Africa’s first seed fund.

“Before he moves back next month he had to do a finale trip and bring in some of his favourite tech entrepreneurs,” said Paul Bragiel, who came along for the ride. Bragiel is the co-founder and managing director of i/o Ventures, an early stage startup program

The two were joined by Dali Kilani, CTO of publishing at Zynga; Vivian Chan, Windows Phone head of marketing at Microsoft; and Amy Jackman, a local Alaskan coffee shop owner and angel investor. While there, the tech guys talked about angel investing, mobile startups, and gaming.

“I got a lot of perspective on the regions they were looking at. I also shared about all the work we are doing internationally with i/o,” Bragiel said. 

Zynga’s Kilani is from Tunisia. He loves game dynamics and helping entrepreneurship flourish in the Middle East and North Africa. Chan is interested in the explosion of app developers and how it has spurred entrepreneurship in both United States and the rest of the world. Jackman is interested in the intersection of retail and physical goods and the Internet.

It wasn’t all tech talk though. They had their fair share of group bonding activities.

They arrived at this cabin, which is north of Fairbanks, Alaska. It was in the boonies, which meant no Internet access!

On the first day, they went dog sledding.

It was a 20 mile trip.

Bragiel is snow shoeing. It looks cold. Now, where does Bragiel's beard end and the hat start?

Here's Chan going down the slide at the Ice Sculpture World Championships in Fairbanks.

Next, the group went to an ice museum in Chena Hot Springs.

This is Amy Jackman, the Alaskan host and organiser of the trip.

They are drinking martinis out of cups made of ice. From the left, Jackman, Bragiel, Chang, and Kilani huddle together.

After the ice museum, they can't help but be tourists and pose by this snowman.

Time to warm up. Bragiel and Kilani in a nearby lodge, drinking hot cider.

Next up, a dip in the hot springs. With a 120 degree difference between the air and the water, Bragiel said their hair froze immediately.

Dinner! The food was grown in a geothermal greenhouse, heated by the hot springs. Yummy... reindeer sausage.

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