So I hit the streets of San Francisco on the morning of Thursday the 5th of July.
It’s been a week since then, but it feels like so much has happened… rather than give you a saga, I figured I’d stick to the bullet-points of what I learned in the first week, with the hope it might be helpful to fellow startuppers on their way over here.
1: LOOK BOTH WAYS.
It sounds trivial, but it took at least a few days to turn off the “NZ-road rules” part of my brain… It’s one thing to know that cars drive on the other side of the road here, it’s another to instinctively look the right way when you’re rushing between meetings whilst talking on the phone and checking your email…so be careful! You’re going to be significantly less productive if you’re run over by a truck – or most vehicles, for that matter.
2: Get social.
Meetup.com is an AMAZING resource for getting a jump-start on your network, with over 6000 meetup groups in SF alone, you’re looking at minimum 2-5 events a day around tech and startups, not to mention groups with very specific interests, such as a particular development language, a certain kind of marketing, or a group focused exclusively on what would usually be a niche topic.
3: Traction trumps talk.
In a place where universities and existing tech companies are pumping a lot of clever, experienced people back into the local eco-system, ideas are a dime-a-dozen… this doesn’t mean your idea isn’t great – what it does mean is that people are going to value your ability to execute over how clever you might be… a thousand customers (or promises from future customers) is going to get you a lot further than a 50 page business plan… traction tells people you can DO things, not just talk about them.
4: Follow up.
With all these meetings/new faces- it’s easy to lose track of names, contact details, and things-you-were-supposed-to-
follow-up-on. Make sure you have a device (Even a notepad) to record who you meet where, what the outcomes were, and then dedicate a time in the day to follow up on the connections you make – you never know when you’ll meet someone you’ll end up working with.
5: Life happens.
After all is said and done, San Francisco is a beautiful city with a very open culture, and most of the good outcomes are going to come from things you didn’t plan for – a surprise referral, an unplanned event where you meet a key customer, or the intern who loves your idea and will work for love and maybe a little equity if things go well. By all means do prepare as time flies VERY quickly – but don’t forget to take the opportunities as they come, and they’ll come quite often if you’re getting out in the community.
Next week I’ll be writing about some specific places and groups I’ve come across thus far – feel free to ask questions and I’ll reply to them on this page.