3 Things you should do to immerse yourself in the Silicon Valley community without being here - brnd.ws
I’ve said it before but I’ll repeat it. In my opinion, Silicon Valley is the most vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in the world. The sheer amount of venture capital available helps but there’s a lot more than money that you can’t quantify and makes it unique. It’s hard to replicate the dozens of tech meetups happening everyday where people discuss any startup-related subject you can imagine. It’s even harder to replicate the collaborative culture you can find here. Everyone openly discusses their future plans and you feel like anyone you stop on the street can give you extensive and valuable feedback for your business.
This is what I call the “insider bias”. Just by being here, you’re exposed to ideas and concepts that others don’t have access to, but you hear them so many times that at some point you think everyone knows it. Everyone knows about the lean startup cycle, the 90/9/1 ratio, or the freemium conversion funnel, right? Wrong! One of the things that impressed me the most about Silicon Valley is the level of tech-related discussions you can get. With anyone! They might not know the difference between income and revenue but they can give you a half hour talk about how UI is different than UX.
You can’t replicate that, but you can immerse yourself in this ecosystem even without being here. How? Connecting to the Silicon Valley information hubs, attending virtual events, reading, interacting with local people, even working for people in Silicon Valley. It’s an organic process and can take its time, but slowly you can start feeling as if you were here. Here is how I did it.
- Twitter. First, I started following relevant people on Twitter. The particular list of names is personal and debatable (the list of people I follow is public and you can check it at twitter.com/hugobernardo), and it will depend on the type of business you’re running. If you’re into tech, then you might want to check Techcrunch, Business Insider, or the newest Pandodaily. If you’re going to be a founder, you should follow some VCs and angels. You can check “The Most Respected Venture Capitalists” to start with. If you’re in the wine business, like I am, follow the most relevant wine bloggers and reviewers. You don’t have to be checking every single tweet, and you should definitely curate your list, but Twitter has this strange effect that makes you feel like you’re best friends with the people you follow, which makes you a little more of an insider. Even if you and I know you’re not
- Hacker News. I find Hacker News, Y Combinator’s news and discussion forum, is an invaluable source of help and information, in a way I don’t find anywhere else (except maybe attending live events). The name says it all – most people hanging out there are hackers, a lot from outside Silicon Valley. Try to contribute whenever you can, but even if you don’t, you can read about the latest in technology, and learn from people who are the real deal.
- eMeetings & classes. Meetups are an incredible way of learning and receiving feedback. The problem, of course, is that you need to be here to attend. However, a lot of events now stream live, and the number is increasing. Of course, you don’t get to network but you’ll learn a lot. Go to meetup.com and find the groups that interest you the most, then check which events stream live. Also, Stanford has a lot of online resources (classes, conferences, etc), and attendance is free. Here’s the link.
Do these 3 things and you’ll quickly feel as if you were here. That way, whenever you decide to come to Silicon Valley, you won’t sound as if you’re alien. Plus, you’ll likely establish useful connections in the process that will make the transition a lot easier.