What you need to know about Silicon Valley – 5 things you can learn in California as a startup founder

March 1, 2016

The best way to wrap up the past year, is to pack the plane with top notch Sauna teams from our most recent batches and head under the California sun. Next thing you do, you fill their iCalendar with dozen of meetings with investors and potential clients and let them pitch, pitch, pitch.

A few weeks ago, we met venture capital companies with iQryptAppfollowPromoRepublic and Inselly, visited some friends over at Google, got acquainted with big players like Plug and Play, Bootstrap Labs and got the teams’ an opportunity to pitch like cray cray at a Silicon Vikings pitching event. The outcome was awesome: great connections, tough questions followed by insightful answers, interested parties and what we really treasure – inspired peeps.

Here are the key elements learned on this trip:

To be or not be

For a long time, there has been a fair amount of hype about being in Silicon Valley. The harsh truth is Silicon Valley VC’s rarely invest in early-stage companies from Europe, and if they do – you really need to be on top of your game. Or at least your assets should be in US. If you’re chasing small funds, this might not to be the place for you. The reason is simple: US VCs don’t know your country’s law. Also, they want to have you close to them, so they can better help you. If your team is located multiple time zones away, keeping in touch becomes hard. If you’re considering raising money, getting customers, or just meeting people in the Valley, commit yourself to it.

Silicon Valley is a mindset

We met a guy working for an investment company casually over Sunday brunch. Granola was delicious, orange juice freshly squeezed – and that was the guy’s third meeting of the day. “I try to make every day useful”, he told us while we were sipping our first cup of coffee of that day. Lesson learned: be productive every single minute. Every rendezvous, lunch break and dinner party is an opportunity to pitch, make an impression with just a few words.

It’s all about traction

A big part of the US VCs, investors, angels, don’t care much about your product. The only thing that really matters to them is traction. They wanna really see results, aka numbers. What counts as traction is paying customers, downloads, pre-selling your product. Even if you don’t have an actual product yet, just a waiting list will do. The number of people on that list – that’s what the investors give a damn about.

How to get to VCs?

California is bursting with VCs. Well, how do you get in touch with them? You probably want to get an introduction. Go through your Linkedin to find a connection. It doesn’t need to be first hand connection, it can be a very distant one. Work your way to the VC through your connections. Convince your contacts why you deserve an introduction. Make them reach out for you. The warmer the intro, the better your chances are, my friend.

You can do itIt’s somewhat calming to notice, that the founders of startups like Uber and Airbnb are similar punks as the rest of us. After an intensive week in the Valley, people are usually dead tired, yet filled with inspiration, that ‘Murican attitude and heck-yeah-we-can-totally-do-this spirit.

Thanks Silley Valley, until the next time!

How to join our accelerator and on one our trips? By attending one of our local events. If you can’t make it to a local event, you can also apply via open application.