Silicon Valley with IE Business School: Part II

A lot of hints to share in this post… I’m angry because yesterday I already had 3 paragraphs written when suddenly the WordPress for Blackberry shut down… Grrr! I will get an iPhone!

Well, after the first – already mentioned – day with visits to Google, Electronic Arts and Symantec, in the next day we had a busy day meeting other members of the Silicon Valley ecosystem. We visited Plug and Play Tech Center, an inspiring incubator-like type of place, designed to support tech ventures in their early stages, check it out.

Visiting Plug and Play Tech Center

Visiting Plug and Play Tech Center

They call themselves “Startup Accelerators” or a kind of a “Silicon Valley One Stop Shop”, providing pre-seeding support and eventual partnerships with local Venture Capitalists. In 2010 alone, more than 150 million dollars were raised for some of the 170+ start-ups sharing the space. More than 3,000 business plans apply for a spot in the place in a single year.

Although I liked a lot the whole thing, in my humble opinion – as member of the e-learning “industry”, I think they are still too brick and mortar, promoting countless face-to-face events but very few online activities (it sounds quite contradictory, don’t you think?). In the picture you can see some of the most famous companies that started at Plug and Play: Logitech, PayPal and Google.

Entrance Plug and Play Tech Center

Entrance Plug and Play Tech Center

However, the most useful exercise was to listen to some of the founders of ventures currently hosted at Plug and Play: PasswordBank, Userzoom and iCharts. Their insights were really interesting as they explained all the process they had to go through to get to the level they are now, in a positive path.

Summarizing, their hints were:

– Just move to California if you have customers, competitors, investors and would like living in the US;
– Venture Capitalists are increasingly emerging in your home country, take advantage of them and your local network;
– Hire people with experience in small companies, not in big ones;
– In the US hire Americans;
– Don’t show up only with an idea. Ideas worth nothing. Bring a product;
– Clients in the US like to ask for a POC Prove of Concept (click here).
– Start by selling your product first (or gathering users); if you have growing sales/users, that means something;
– Try to hire software engineers in your own country, in the US they are expensive and you will compete with large corporations for talent;
– Try to start B2B before B2C (even if your business is B2C);

Well, I have more notes to share soon. Just would like to show something before. I had the chance to visit the Intel Museum and found this little chip in there, one of the first (material) things that I fell in love (!) in my life: a 386. I know it sounds really geek but I was really dreaming about this little thing when I was 15 years old.

Intel 386

Intel 386

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