From Sauna to the Valley: get out to explore and learn
There has been a lot of buzz about the Valley and we can assure it’s not for nothing. For us it’s a place where you can get more things done in a week than in a month elsewhere. But the Silicon Valley, or the broader Bay Area, is not the place for every startup. At least not for doing business. It has something for every entrepreneur though: culture and knowledge. The beauty is that it’s all accessible. It’s not necessarily easy but it’s there for you to take with some hard work.
If you’re aiming for global markets you should think global. The best way to widen your views is to go abroad and learn from different markets and different people. For that the Bay Area is an excellent place to get started. The entrepreneurial culture there is a real eye opener. People are really open-minded and helping other entrepreneurs because they have been helped and will be helped in the future as well. Entrepreneurs have mindset and passion for building success stories. And if you fail it’s not the end of the world but rather seen as a valuable learning process.
The Bay Area gathers together the most successful people from all over the world. There are events everyday where you can learn from these people. Not just by listening a star keynote speaker but by networking as well. Networking should actually be a crucial part of your business development. When talking to new people with different backgrounds you will always get valuable feedback and ideas. It’s up to you whether you act on the feedback or not since you usually know your own business better.
Grabbing the opportunities
Once you’ve arrived in the valley, you’ll soon realize the amount of networking and pitching events, hacker workshops, tech summits and fairs etc. There are so many opportunities out there, so be sure to have some reasonable filter on when you’re planning your moves. We would like to emphasize the fact that you should pre-plan your visit to some extent. You want to take the most out of your trip right? You don’t want to be use all your time to talking to people who are totally irrelevant to you or spending days doing the exact same things you could be doing at your home office.
Before you start your trip you should scout companies and people you would like to meet and mark events of your interest in your calendar. Set up your first company meetings one week before you leave to the Valley. If you can’t find a proper contact person on the company web site, LinkedIn can be a valuable resource to find the right match. We made valuable meetings become reality just by finding right persons on LinkedIn and sending introduction e-mails to them. Just be sure to contact a person that is in a relevant position to make decisions that you would like to achieve. In US you just might have to contact the companies more often to make the meetings happen. Compared to Scandinavian culture, you’ll just have to be slightly more aggressive to get to your goal. Don’t, however, fall into the trap of being desperate about getting the meeting done. Be determined.
Networking is much more easier and fluent in the Bay Area events. People are forthcoming and it’s much more easier to start a casual conversation. Sometimes it’s better to attend the events alone. Then you actually have to network with the people around you, as you don’t have your friends hanging next to you. In case you have your Finnish peers around you, don’t just stick talking with – go out there and discover new people. It’s always good to have someone with you who can make good introductions at the events, so get to know the local key players. As a thumb of rule, try to be relaxed and yourself and you’ll do just fine – it’s vague and transparent to play any roles.
Get out to the Valley to learn and get the feel of the culture. Whether you should stay there is totally up to you. It’s not the place for every startup, but you can think about it as a school for entrepreneurship. While learning figure out whether it’s a place for your business as well.