The ultimate goal of a good technology company should be to change the way things are done, at a large scale, for the benefit of humanity. Think Tesla transforming energy use and road safety, and Apple building a bicycle for the mind.
Some of the most effective people at doing this are concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area is made up of Silicon Valley, as well as San Francisco and Oakland where many new companies are now basing their efforts.
Much like the TV show Silicon Valley, the Bay Area is filled with houses of people building things. The first house I stayed in there was called Chez JJ, and is the actual house that the TV show features. Unlike the TV show however, people generally aren’t that interested in trivial applications. Typical people at Chez JJ came from NASA or Google. They were working on products to improve education, share access to scientific facilities, or develop new kinds of computing hardware.
Most people in the Bay Area are working on products to improve efficiency that will deliver a small improvement to a large number of people. Typically these products help automate extremely boring work, like filling out forms, or checking part of software. This isn’t that exciting to hear about but our lives are much better for being able to avoid these tasks. Some founders are open to taking bigger risks and these are the inspiring startups you will hear about. These people are working on fundamental improvements to human capability, our reach in the universe, our health, and the hardest social, financial and environmental problems of our age.
At muru-D we work hard to give technology company founders the skills to make an impact. This year our group of founders went to the Bay Area to improve themselves and the prospects for their companies.
There are two main opportunities in the Bay Area for a founder to consider:
- Develop your EQ. The greatest opportunity for a founder in the Bay Area is to develop their management, leadership, and communication. The goal is to build the techniques for empathy and to use them to relate better to your staff, your customers and your investors.
- Develop your Hustle. You will not make valuable connections just by arriving. You need to work hard to stand out and to reach the people whose guidance will be most valuable to you. The Bay Area is one of the most competitive places on earth and you will need to prepare and put in an effort to be noticed.
The opportunities we arrange for muru-D founders to develop their EQ on our trip to the bay area include:
- Communication Coaching run by people who facilitate the Stanford MBA program.
- Improv – improvisation workshops and experiences by people who are experts at developing startup communication.
- Meditation run by startup coaches.
- Marketing and branding workshops, tailored specifically for launching new technology products.
- Conferences so they can see how other founders show up and get a sense of what local investors and customers expect.
The opportunities for muru-D founders to develop their Hustle include:
- Extensive pre-trip planning, where founders identify people who could advance their company.
- Email hacking sessions where we form a group late in the evening and share techniques for writing cold emails for new meetings.
- Mentor meetings where founders meet with and try to impress people from the local industry.
My biggest personal wins in Silicon Valley have come from EQ development and getting meetings with people I never dreamed I would meet. This second part is an attitude I see a lot of in Australia and one I’ve now shaken off.
There is a tendency I’ve noticed in Australia for us to view ourselves as somehow different to the most successful people and feel inadequate around them.
This is an attitude that takes a while to break down. Once you realise everyone else is more or less like you, meetings will flow more comfortable, negotiations will reach fairer outcomes and your business will move forward much more easily.
Helping founders form this confident attitude is one of the most rewarding parts of being involved with muru-D.