Silicon Valley Is Genial
Here we are go again, back to the Americas! As many of you already know through various forms of media or our social networks, Chema (Co-founder/CTO of Genially) and I (the CEO) have been representing Genially in Silicon Valley (San Francisco). Some of you may be wondering why we took the trip and why we were selected by the Founder Institute to participate in the inaugural FounderX– an event for technology startups worldwide. We were one of only 42 companies chosen by the Founder Institute because they believe that Genially has excellent growth potential. Imagine our excitement when they invited us to participate!
We immediately started to perfect our “Pitch”. Preparing our 13 slides had never been so long, complicated, and trying. Every phrase and image made us stop, think, discuss, and test them. Our presentation was supposed to be a document showing potential partners, investors, mentors and, of course, developers using Genially. This was to be one of our most important assets.
On Sunday, May 1st, we arrived in San Francisco after nearly 24 hours of flights with our knees in our chest. Once we got there, in addition to meeting some really interesting people and learning about their businesses, we also tried to make the most of our trip. We had a full schedule of meetings and conferences but,of course, we made some time to relax and explore San Francisco- fun is key to success 😉 .
Now after being back a few days, it is time to reflect on our grand adventure. It was a positive experience to see so many professionals turning dreams into a reality. We were fortunate enough to meet with knowledgable people with very relevant experience and advice. When we presented about our product, Genially, we listened to each and every piece of advice and all the comments so we could remember and make important changes. I don’t want to bore you with a “corporate roll call” but rather give you a glimpse into our experience- and hopefully inspire someone interested in the world of entrepreneurship and startups.
One of the things we have to address is how inspiring it was to be in Silicon Valley– an environment that represents an impressive ecosystem and a high concentration of successful businesses. Just traveling a few miles you can see the spectacular homes of innovative giants such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and YouTube. What may not be so obvious is the concentration of talent and effort that leads there. Undoubtedly, it is a part of the world where people are writing some of the keys of the XXI Century and enhancing our current lifestyle. For all these people, Silicon Valley has become the current Mecca for tech entrepreneurs (or “prospectors” if you will- pulling from the historical past of the region). In fact, I think it is not a bad comparison, because it seems to describe a type of entrepreneur whose focus is on finding an idea that turns you into a successful entrepreneur (the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg) with an idea generating value to the world, rather than thinking more about attracting capital from investors instead of meeting the needs of its customers or users, with the risk of blurring those lines.
On the other hand, the pull generated by this ‘Startup Paradise‘ leads to an associated high demand- which brings us to another of the most striking features of Silicon Valley, the high cost of living. It’s amazing that renting one room (I can not imagine an entire apartment!) costs around $1,500 a month and a developer copper costs over $150,000 a year. However, this demand can also be justified because it is an area with a high quality of life, mild climate, exceptional nature nearby, and surrounded by a picturesque and cosmopolitan city. Another detail that caught my attention because of my “professional deformation” was the interest in a stylized form of ‘sustainable living‘, which could be reflected in the high proportion of hybrid and electric cars (including stunning teslas, which is based there) you can see on all the streets, or in organic foods that are in many different shops.
And as often happens with trips, the best experience was the incredible people we have met. We want to take the opportunity to thank FounderX for providing us with an international atmosphere for entrepreneurs and mentors from dozens of countries.This experience gave us a very broad understanding of the vision that not only happens in Silicon Valley but globally. We met wonderful people with great projects and we wish them well in their future expansions and endeavors. We could highlight so many- Aomm TV, Rever, Makerbloks, etc… but if I had to highlight one it would be DadA.nyc for its originality and enthusiasm to boost the power of visual communication– a shared vision. We will talk more about this magnificent startup in another post.
In life beyond the FounderX, we were also able to experience some people who are a part of the history of the valley and technological development, such as Dave Ditzel and Roy Thiele-Sardina. There hospitality will never forget, nor will their advice and anecdotes from a “product man” and ” salt man” of the first order.
And finally, some tips for those who want to conquer the “Far West”. First, you need a good level of English not just to understand and be understood but also to attract, negotiate, convince, love, etc. So it takes a pretty high level to be able to play with words and rhythms and, to be honest, this is something we are still working on. Secondly, it is also essential to understand that in the world of startups, especially in Silicon Valley (the Champions), it is a dynamic and ever-changing environment which leads to a constant need to learn and adapt to be competitive. Thirdly, you must also be prepared for a “bussiness show,” something that is increasingly widespread, but in Silicon Valley its at its peak. A 3-minute pitch deck where your verbiage and ability to “interpretation” your product / technology is most important. In this sense, the Spanish are at a disadvantage because our education system really doesn’t prepare us for oratory skills- a point that certainly could be an entire post. I would emphasize that this “methodology” is risky with this kind of business models that communicates and sells digital media with less people, although I understand that is the product of a saturated market, that requires filters for further evaluations.
All I can say about this experience is that it has not been done with no other motivation than to expand and improve Genially. We were willing to be proud and represent Genially wherever we went there.
And so, we have reached the end of the story … and now we will continue working day by day to build something big, something great.