What a rush! The Orange Blogger Bus Tour has been over for more than a week and it has taken some time for things to sink in. With all the companies we met, the people we talked to and the interesting things we heard, it’s been pretty difficult to put on paper the large amounts of data which were fed to us throughout our stay.
But apart from the raw facts about what companies are up to in the Valley and how startups are multiplying at a scary rate in the area, which you can find out about reading our guest bloggers’ reports on the live Orange blog, one of the perks of this trip was to get a real feel of the Valley and understand what made the area so special, and also so different from what one could expect.
I for one imagined the Valley as a fairly dull place, with very smart people sat behind computers all day working on top secret projects. Although I was spot on about them being smart, I couldn’t have been more wrong regarding the rest!
Indeed, the first thing that struck me as we started our week of meetings was how open and eager all these very busy people were to talk to us. Fair enough, free publicity is always appealing, especially with our bloggers coming from various countries around the globe (France, England, Finland, Romania, Thailand, Australia, China), but the people we talked to, from marketing VP’s to CEO’s, were keen to share their ideas, hear ours and tell us about the way of life in the Valley.
Chris Chan, co-founder of Causes, emphasised on the fact that most people working in the high tech industry in San Francisco and Silicon Valley abide by an unwritten rule of mutual help. Sharing knowledge and ideas with fellow entrepreneurs and engineers enables them to solve problems, and ultimately, it’s what makes this place so powerful in terms of innovation; an on-going brainstorm if you will, or a massive co-working space spread across the Bay Area. Plenty of other companies confirmed Chan’s story and we were actually able to see this first hand at Taploid CEO Redg Snodgrass’ dinner party on the Wednesday night, with all these entrepreneurs talking passionately about their projects together.
And this passion is definitely one of the key components of the Valley’s success. The thousands of people involved in the industry would not be where they are today without their enthusiasm and hunger to change the world we are living in. From several conversations I had during that night at Redg’s with some of the Valley’s brightest minds, what really came out was that these guys (and girls) are driven primarily by the idea of shaping (or disrupting) the world we are living in. I might be a little naïve, but making piles of money in the process, which I thought was the main objective in such a demanding and ambitious endeavour as setting up a start-up, is only secondary for most of these people.
Coming out from a conference about gamification at Stanford’s VLabs during our week, Timothée de Laitre, one of our guest bloggers, referred to the Valley as “Disneyland for entrepreneurs”, a place propitious for startup lovers to fulfil their dreams. With co-working spaces all over town (RocketSpace, The Hatchery) and investors ready to look beyond one or more failures, the Bay Area is a fantastic hotbed for the emergence of new talents. This was actually one of the major lessons we learned in the Valley during our stay: failure is the key to success.
Indeed, failure is regarded as somewhat of a ‘badge of honour’ (hail gamification!), an accomplishment in itself for having tried. This demonstrates guts, and investors and recruiters are keen to give these one-time losers a chance to become a hero. One CEO which we met at Citrix Accelerator actually lost his fortune three times in new start-ups but was still there, raring to go and create a new one! This never-say-die mentality is yet another reason why the Valley continues to thrive in terms of innovation. Hopefully we’ll be back in a few years to see where all these entrepreneurs are at. Until then, best of luck to you all and thanks for having us!