Today marks the first day of IESE Meets The Valley 2013 and this short blogging series. Today we had our “getting funded” day in which I discovered that I am a digital native
Our trip’s structure
Our trip this year is structured in 4 days following the entrepreneurial journey: Day 1 is getting funded, day 2 is getting founded, day 3 is scaling a business and day 4 is remaining entrepreneurial. So today was filled with small tech companies and focused on the idea stage.
We started our day with an amazing overview of the trends and basics of Silicon Valley by Sergi Herero from L’atelier (BNP Paribas). We did a test there to see if we were actual digital natives rather than just feeling like one. I scored 85, which is the minimum so I can now say that I am a digital native. Stanford students however, all score 100 on this test! This is astonishing as it underlines the difference between Silicon Valley and other places in the world, things move just so much faster here.
We followed our day with several company visits: ReadyForce where we met Anna Binder (IESE 2005), Lemon, Waze and 500 Startups. We finished the day with an amazing Founders Dinner where 12 Founders joined us and shared their stories with the students. Some of today’s takeaways:
Pay it forward
One clear thing that I learned again today was the difference in attitude between Silicon Valley and places I know. It is the networking “pay it forward” attitude. We have been experiencing this everywhere whilst organizing the trip. People are so friendly, willing to make introductions, help out and join us. Companies have given us of their valuable time for which we are grateful. This culture makes that not everything that works in Silicon Valley can be replicated elsewhere. Networking is key in Silicon Valley and it seems that everyone is good at it. It follows from the “pay it forward” culture where everyone wants to help out and understand that they have been in your position sometime in their lives. Business is done just as much outside of office hours as within.
Spot the trend and then focus
Sergi shared that successful startups spot a trend, or the direction in a market, and then execute a plan towards building a best practice to capture this trend. It seemed strange at first but then we started visiting the startups this day. Lemon CEO Wencis shared a very clear vision of where digital wallets are going and how they are capturing this trend in the future. Waze had a very clear view of what the main goal for their app was and should be. ReadyForce clearly aimed at a niche for college engineering job searchers. All of these startups were focusing on one goal and executing without mercy. This focus is another necessity for a startup: “the hardest thing for a startup is to say no to a customer” said one CEO. The Lean start-up movement was also emphasized by almost all Founders: Don’t raise too much money, build a minimum viable product (MVP), then launch and measure.
The group is really starting to form as well. I was amazed at our Q&A sessions where we stated our name and country every time. We are so diverse, we have 16 countries represented in 19 students. Also we started the “Bus Tank” where we pitch our ideas to fellow students on the bus when we drive from one place to the other. My fellow students have some really good ideas coming up. Hearing students talk about IESE to Poets&Quants journalist Lauren Everitt who joined the trip, really helped me realize again what a great school we have and what a great blessing our diversity has been to my learning experience at IESE.
This was just day 1! I can’t wait for the trip to unfold and to be amazed even more.
Tomorrow: Day 2, Getting Funded