I was in Silicon Valley for two weeks last October in a very enjoyable immersion programin which the Spain Tech Center-STC was also included. The objective of the program for us was twofold: (1) see how our technology adjusts to the US market, (2) find out the best way to grow business in the States. What follows are notes and learning experience for a startup penetrating the US market, from Silicon Valley, the world’s most important entrepreneurial center.

Preparation of the PITCH.

Before our trip we closeted ourselves away to work on that all important tool for any startup: the PITCH, which consists of summarizing your company’s value in the marketplace in two minutes. It might seem crazy to dedicate a week to reduce what your company does to 10-12 phrases and 5-6 slides, but it sharpens focus and ideas and facilitates explaining our company and mission to audiences right across the board and getting that message across simply, accurately and successfully. Although I had done this
previously, for the Cybercamp programs that INCIBE ran in 2015, this occasion has been much more significant, maybe due to the tenor and import of the pitch which lays down company strategy for the coming years. I recommend trying it out in a group and only after endless repetition will you get it right, in our case, the majority of our pitches will not be in our mother tongue.

The Immersion Program.

I was very impressed by this program’s organization by STC, with Cristian Prada, David Santana and Carlos Castro on the team. It was experienced and professional , dealt with all the entrepreneurial topics of interest, helped one understand how an investor thinks, how the labor market works, sales or what the legal set up is in the US and helped improve one’s pitch or creativity. The program dealt with all the aspects of entering the US market and introduced one to many people who could assess one during the process.

The share-entrepreneurs

One of the definite highlights of this San Francisco trip in terms of learning experience, were the people on the program. They shared their time, expertise, experience and personal warmth unstintingly. It was a value added time, sharing with other entrepreneurs, from different sectors, their experience and input. We have forged personal and professional relationships which we will maintain over time, aided
and abetted by whatsapp contact.

The entrepreneurial-ecosystem in Silicon Valley

Everything in San Francisco seems to be geared up towards entrepreneurship, startups today are to the economy what gold was in the Golden Rush in California in the XIX century. Everybody goes to Silicon Valley to discover, learn and look for their opportunity and the city lives for technology and entrepreneurship.
What is recommendable and stands out in this ecosystem, are the eventbrite or meetups that proliferate every afternoon in which one meets interesting people who are prepared to share. On planning the trip, we drew up a long list of linkedin contacts: capital ventures, clients, potential partners to see. The result was way below expectations. Whilst I would not abdicate from using Linkedin, as in eID some of our biggest hitting contacts came from linkedin, but here the result was, after contacting 200 people, we got 2-3 meetings from all that. But these were very profitable.
I recommend you start to plan the events soon because if your pitch attracts attention, you are going to have to be able to string together multiple meetings in a very short time. One also learns a lot at the multiple and varied events from the speakers.
San Francisco is one of the most inspiring cities I know, I recommend early morning walks, you’ll probably be awake at 5am most days, enjoy breakfast anywhere in Mission Bay, the financial district or Chinatown. Getting to know SF has been one of the best things about this trip. It inspires with ease, being out of one’s normal habitat and breaking one’s normal routine has helped me see things with greater clarity. Probably helping to make the right short term decisions for the path of our start-up.

I bought 3 books on the experience of entrepreneurs to soak up more about Silicon Valley. Here they are:

  • Hard things about the hard things. Netscape founder y and his experiences as Wartime CEO. Absorbing.
  • Disciplined Entrepreneurs. I like the methodological approach especially on how to penetrate the
    market.
  • Monetizing Innovation. He talked about this at an eventbrite, it summarizes in basic concepts the main errors in pricing around the product. I liked his speech and hope
    the book gets further into the subject.

Lessons learnt for our startup.

After this experience eID will focus on penetrating the US market. We need further work on the details of our “market fit” in legal matters and to follow up on various interesting operations in that direction.

Our approach will try and look for the first clients, to further commit, then look for funding and a local team to grow the market. Currently, we don’t see ourselves applying the concept of “redomestication” that many companies adopt to redomicile their headquarters in the US.

We now know that offline and online worlds are together.
If anyone is doing a similar project and wants more information or has a differing opinion, I am contactable on LinkedIn.

Iván Nabalón.