Today I started my real San Francisco trip. Our first visit was to a technology incubator center were teams and new projects consolidate their ideas with the help of professionals. Unlike other countries, in San Francisco, this type of incubators are managed by private companies and thus, it is difficult to access to one of them with advantageous conditions. It is important to mention that in San Francisco there are also the project accelerators but, unlike the incubators, these help the projects when they are in the initial stages.
By visiting the three floors of the building, I notices that there are many projects related with Web 2.0 that were being “cooked” in this incubator. By asking our guide if there were any company that merged software with hardware, he said “no”. Curious, isn’t it?
However, what does a incubator of this type offer us? Imagine a center were the companies share secretaries, phone lines, high-speed Internet, meeting rooms, security, printers, photocopies, furniture, legal help and the possibility of working 24 hours a day with your security card. Well, roughly, this is a technological incubator were some reject and/or select companies to work there. Many of them search for a ecosystem among all companies that you can find here.
After a quick introduction made by Sara Herald, of the Step One company, Miguel Angel Díez of the network company Karaoke and Koldo, two businessmen settled in the incubator a few months ago, gave us a little talk about their experiences and how some things in San Francisco and Silicon Valley are nothing but myths.
To not extend myself to much, I will put below the things that caught my attention the most:
1. – Myth: Nobody gives money away to any project. Here not everything counts, so if your project isn’t appreciated don’t doubt that they will tell you that without any problems.
2. – Truth: You can find in any coffee shop big investors with a lot of money searching for new ideas that won’t appear in any way to be so.
3. – Family: Koldo and Miguel Angel have made a lot of emphasis in this subject, since a lot of people with big ideas return to their home cities because their family don’t adapt to these places.
4. – To live in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. According to them, it is pretty clear that if you have a family the best thing to do is to stay in the Silicon Valley because of their colleges, but if you live alone it is better to stay in San Francisco.
5. – In general, when you have the opportunity to make a contact with an investor, you have to take into account that you won’t have more than 5 minutes to explain to him your project (this is called Elevator Pitch), so you have to prepare your speech before going out to the street.
6. – In San Francisco everything is very very expensive, specially the housing and the transportations.
7. – Here not everybody is successful and you have to be open-minded if you have to change your path rapidly. You have to be very fast.
8. – You probably think that you have the best idea in the world and here everyone will want to help you. However, the reality is that in most cases there is already someone who launched this idea, so don’t get desperate about it. You have to adapt and differentiate from your competitors.
This are the main aspects of some of the things I concluded after the talk of these two Spanish businessmen settled in San Francisco, and although I have few hours in San Francisco, I can notice that there is a real obsession with the software rather than the hardware. Are we witnessing a passing fad and will the next projects consist in mixing hard and soft?
Qbo caught the attention of all workers who went down the stairs to go eat, since the moment I pick it up from its box to solve a small problem with one of its microphones. In less than half an hour, I answered at least 100 questions regarding the robot, asked by different people. Guys, this is San Francisco!! I would like to thank to the people in the center who helped me with the robot and make me available all the material I needed. Thank you.
And this finished our visit to this San Francisco’s incubator. After the launch, the law firm ORRICK, through Greg Heibel, commented some things to have in mind before settling in USA (patent issues, visas, etc.) and then Julio Deulofeu, a guru in startups and inversions spoke about his vision of how one should innovate.
And until now, here’s the summary of today. Tomorrow, two of the strongest “dishes” of the trip, Google and Intel.