Takeaways from a week in Silicon Valley, part 2

In SF we hiked around several incubators and accelerators. Highway1 is a hardware accelerator, running a four month program two times a year. We visited their brand new facility, next door to the owner company PCH, who is also closely co-operative with the program. We found several similarities in application, selection and evaluation of teams, but also differences. As the accelerator has a hardware focus, they take their teams to China to get to know the manufacturing process.

Ravi Belan, former Venture Capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and professor at Stanford University, founder and CEO made a casual presentation of Alchemist. They are a for-profit accelerator organization and has a Enterprise Startup focus (the revenue should come from enterprises). Their program has a strong focus on customers and sale process. The teams are matched up with customer advisors (typically Fortune 500 companies) and VC managers in 1:1 meetings. As we already knew, there is a vast difference between the Silicon Valley/ San Francisco VC financial arena versus ours. On Alchemist´s latest Demo Day, it was a 20:1 ratio between Investors – Companies. Something to dream about for us here in Europe….

At Wearable World we got to see pitches from startups originating from both UK and Australia as well as local ones, a nice validation that our own pitches are up to standard. All housed in the amazing Palace of Fine Arts.

And at Runway we met with startup coach Tristan Kromer, who really took time to listen to us about the way we work and shot some thoughtful questions our way. We left the Twitter building full of new thoughts about how to change, iterate faster and improve our process.

We have to mention our visit to Compass, a Gartner challenger startup with benchmark services for startup CEO’s, Angels and VC’s. CEO J-F Gauthier talked about his experience of having a startup in the valley, how they fund, operate and plan for the future. 35 000 B2B clients isn’t enough apparently, you’ll need at least 100 000 to be noticed…

As a university associated incubator, we expected UC Berkleys Skydeck to be something like Chalmers Innovation. And as we sat down for a chat with executive director Caroline Winnett, we soon stumbled upon loads of possibilities that we could work on together. But as any other startup place, we walked through rooms cramped with desks and no such thing as privacy.
We were fortunate enough to have Waqas Khalid to give us the Berkeley tour. Not only is he an ex-Gothenburger and startup CEO, but also a program manager at Berkeley and researcher for NASA. He got us into the top security areas as well as showing us the best viewing points and the tip to not bother the wild turkeys and roe deers.

Our trip was rounded up with a morning meeting with Jonas Landström, Investment Director and Head of Americas at Volvo Group Venture Capital. He guided us through the pitfalls of being a Enterprise VC and how they think about startups, investments and Silicon Valley.

Then we got to Rackspace and their co-working space Geekdom. Neat, nice and quiet, very un-incubator like, but with the mandatory ping-pong tables, gamerooms and bikeshops.

So long San Francisco, see you soon!