Archives For silicon valley

Last week at the PandoMonthly event Ben Horowitz was the main guest. He is one of the partners at Andreessen Horowitz, one of the big new VC firms in the Valley. Little history, Ben and Marc ran Netscape, and he has only a little pain left over from the battle with Microsoft in those days:). Their firm is kicking everybody’s behind with their model that gives companies not only money but also the infrastructure and network to become successful. Besides extremely smart he is also very down to earth and funny.

Some of my favorite quotes of the interview:

  • “If you don’t have winning product, it doesn’t matter how well your company is managed, you are done” – about founders being CEOs
  • “Even if you succeed, if you built a company that everybody hated working at, what have you done?”  – about bad management style
  • “Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time” – about the competition of Andreesen Horowitz and a Drake quote
  • “To me the piece sign is just the trigger and the middle finger” – about VC’s approaching him wit their fingers in the V-sign
  • “..If you don’t have courage you have no virtue because all these other virtues never get activated”
  • “Women tend to be more confrontational then men”
  • “The difference between a hero and a coward is not what you feel, you both feel terrified. It is what you do”
  • “CEO’s are not born, they are made”
And read this blog post that got also featured on Techcrunch about The Struggle.

And yes, Sarah sings way out of tune 🙂

 

Well, I like hackathons. Fortunately in Silicon Valley there are a lot of them. Organized by small organisations just for fun or big organisations to push stuff nobody wants. Highly unstructured just sitting together and socialize to structured days (and nights!) to reach an end goal that can be judged by a panel. For just the honor, or big prices.

I like them for these reasons:

  • meet fellow hackers (and designers) and be inspired by them
  • learn from your fellow hackers
  • work on different projects than your current business you have already poured months in with many more to come
  • try out cool new technologies you haven’t used before

The one hackathon I have been to already 2 times and will go to again is BeMyApp. It is around mobile apps (iOS, Android) and highly structured. On Friday idea people pitch their concept, best ones are picked. Saturday and Sunday hacking with a panel at the end. So last time I happened by wind up in the team of a Wired correspondent, Steven Leckart. He was there to write a story about hackathons. So now the story is out. It’s a great article and not only because I am prominently featured. Read it, it has an awesome overview of all hackathons going on.

And next week there is a new BeMyApp weekend, and I will be hanging out again. So see you there!

 

 

So you are new in Silicon Valley, a foreigner fresh off the boat with a big dream to build your own tech startup. Got your place via AirBnB or Craigslist. Now what? Where do all the cool startup dudes hang out and how do I get in touch with them? Well fortunately enough there are a lot of events going on that you can attend for (almost) free. A lot of activity is going on in San Francisco nowadays, same in Mountain View or Palo Alto. If you haven’t picked your place to live yet I would recommend San Francisco btw.

Here is how to find out about the good events:

  1. Subscribe to StartupDigest newsletter. These guys rock, they will send you a list of all great events with sometimes discount codes
  2. Subscribe to WebWallFlower. Not the same league as StartupDigest, but still useful
  3. Create an account with Plancast and follow the active dudes like me. Plancast imports event from Meetup, Eventbrite and Facebook events, links them to your FB or Twitter friends or the persons you subscribe to on Plancast. Excellent service
  4. Check out Meetup.com, and sign up for interesting groups
  5. Look at Eventbrite.com, and make sure you integrate your Facebook account to get recommendations

There are a few recurring events that are always good to attend:

  1. SF NewTech SF’s oldest and biggest tech event
  2. Hackers and Founders. Great monthly events with lot’s of actual hackers instead of just dreamers with ideas:)
  3. SF Beta – great location and food

So how to meet people? Well fortunately Americans are very approachable. Just walk up to them, introduce yourself and ask “What do you do?”. Nine out of ten times you will have a good conversation. Listen to what they do, try to relate to them and tell them something about yourself that is interesting for them. Have your business cards always with you and ask theirs. A LinkedIn request is more than normal to send the next day. As easy as it is to start a conversation, the same goes for ending. A 5 or 10 minute conversation is pretty long already, on a given night someone might speak to 10-15 people. So expect to be asked for your business card or be told they see someone they really have to talk to someone as a signal it is time to move on.

Some other tips to meet people: work from bars like Coffee Bar. It is not exceptional for these places that you buy a coffee and a muffin and work half a day or more there. These working bars have good wifi, a reasonable amount of power outlets and let you stay around for a long time. See this Quora thread for more coffee shops to work from.

Also subscribe to Let’s Lunch. Let’s lunch will hook you up with someone that is from the same field like you are, depending on your LinkedIn profile. I got my desk office with Ark.com by meeting the CEO on a LetsLunch lunch.

Last tip, research the cool companies out there, follow their founders on Twitter and see where they hang out. Mission district is packed with bars like Zeitgeist where you might actually run into one.

Ah or take a Silicon Valley tour, Steve Blank approved.

Ps. A big thank you for my Dutch friend Ronald Mannak for introducing me to Silicon Valley.