Good is not enough in San Francisco
The San Francisco learning journey is over, I’m back home but I’m still on fire after such an inspiring and intense experience. 22 incredible days in which I visited impressive companies as IDEO, Adaptive Path, BitTorrent, Disney Mobile, Innovalley, HermanMiller… lived ecosystems like the Berkeley University, Standford University, The HUB SoMa,.. and met great individuals as Scott Underwood, Dominic Campbell, Xavier Verdaguer, Aitzol García, Jamin Hegeman, Carlos González de Villaumbrosia, Timothy Kline… and many many more.
Picture by: Ryan Resella
My head is now struggling designing a center for social innovation in the Basque Country so it was just great visiting the HUB SoMa, Pier38, Opinno’s open office space and some other incubators. Incredible spaces to empower technological and innovative entrepreneurs and start ups. Was great to see how important these places are and how they create the proper environment and connections and check live bunch of support and professional guidance they provide to the people working with them.
The influence of the Universities in the business ecosystem is just amazing I wont imagine something similar happening in Spain. There is a constant feedback of employees, projects, money, talent… between Universities and companies. Of course I’m aware about how elite-based, the difficulty to enlist to the important universities and the difficulty to pay the bill and the end of the year…
Another interesting point is all the venture capital movement in the area, it’s incredible to feel that new inversion opportunities are waiting around the corner if you have a great idea. Anyway I learnt that even thought I’m always quite fluent in my speeches I need to improve a lot my pitching skills. I need to practice more, be more concise, just touch the key and main points (not getting too theoretical) and create a great 1 minute storytelling and let your mother and grandmother understand the whole thing.
The networking events are very popular in the Bay Area and you can almost find everyday an interesting one. They are, no doubts, the best way to expand your network and share ideas in the city. For me was just great going to those places and talking freely and high level about Design Thinking, user-centered design, social innovation and other fields I love. Great conversations, straight to the point, interesting feedback to your projects and ideas… and of course lots and lots of shared contacts. It was amazing how quick and kindly shared valuable contacts with you or even inviting their companies in the following days. Nothing to do with my previous experience in Basque Country and Spain in similar events. Even magic happens in strange situations: I met a Berkeley University’s teacher crossing the street (who invited me to the MOMA and to the Herman Miller Showroom), a Youtube programmer having a beer and an internet company user experience responsible dancing in a night club.
One thing we need to take into account while talking about Silicon Valley is that the most of the companies are into the technological and web-based field and that the innovation culture has been there for decades. So… this place, people and its history are uniques and not replicable, so please governors out there: do not try to create your Silicon Valley. This things aren’t created from scratch.
Of course all this journey would had not been the same without the my mates of the International Master on Intrapeneurship, Team Leadership and Open Innovation (#MINNteam) and the whole Mondragon Team Academy community, which is an endless source of energy and new challenges. It was a huge honour and challenge to be the Team Leader of this amazing group of people during this once in a lifetime adventure.
San Francisco is undoubtedly one the most challenging and vivid learning and working environments I’ve ever been which transforms the Silicon Valley into one of the best places in the world to leverage yourself, your team and your ideas. But of course just the best ones survive to this competing jungle… good is not enought in San Francisco.
Concluding: more work, more networking, more focusing, more “me conversations”, humbleness but competition too, friends and a great team close to you, go for relevance and impact, trust in the creative talent and of course take risks.
Time now to work hard. San Francisco, see you soon. Looking forward to see what emerges out of this learning journey.
This was my first post about the San Francisco experience more to come in the following days. Stay tuned.