We have all heard of the incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem in San Francisco. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit San Francisco, thanks to Jason Calacanis who was kind enough to invite hundreds of founders for free access to his two-day conference called SCALE, which saw 3,000 investors, founders and potential entrepreneurs attend. It gave me the opportunity to experience first hand the lesser-known factors that allow San Francisco to be bursting with startup success stories. I'd like to share with you some takeaways that have left quite an impression on me.
When I got to San Francisco, I realized that public transportation here was not as well connected as in New York City. My commute involved taking the BART train to travel from my friend’s house in San Mateo, to the city. However, on getting to the city, it was challenging to commute between locations for meetings. I was then advised to user Uber Pool, which costs $7 for each ride. It was incredible to see how the entire city and its professionals be it youth, corporate professionals or startup folks had embraced technology in their daily lives. You may know how big a startup or service is, but you only experience this when you get to the Bay Area!
This also spoke to me about how a city and its residents have readily embraced technology and allowed for it to come up with solutions that may not be readily be available and may take the government officials/corporations an indefinite time to provide.
Prior to the conference, Jason set up a Slack channel for all attendees to get introduced, use for recommendations and outreach. This turned out to be a genius move, as during the conference, a number of individuals were taking detailed notes from panel discussions and sharing resources. Jason was approachable, transparent and encouraged participation, which is what led to the success of this event. Reflected the spirit of what makes SF such a great place for startups to seed and grow.
On a separate note, thanks to the conference, I also got the opportunity to meet with founders of LeadIQ, RedClay, Pakible, Pana, VetPronto, interviewing.io and AutoFi, which are some startups that I have invested in. Founders from most of these startups were also attending the conference, which gave them an opportunity to interact and brainstorm on potential collaborations.
For those who aren’t familiar with them, Wefunder is a crowdfunding platform that allows accredited investors to invest in startups. As part of their community building exercise, they host bi-weekly dinners for startups and investors to attend and meet in a relaxed environment. I was invited to one of the dinners and had the opportunity to meet the Wefunder team, which was kind enough to cook the meal for all guests by themselves. It was an incredible experience, being around folks who have been working passionately on achieving a vision, sharing ideas and growth hacks. I got some very helpful tips on best practices for getting selected into Y-Combinator from Phillip Akhzar, founder of Pakible. I learned from many founders about how they ended up relocating to the Bay Area, and how they don’t see themselves anywhere but here if they are to scale their business.
My experience interacting with investors, observing their inclination to hear and test new ideas, and their kind gestures to make introductions makes me reconsider living in New York.