As part of the scholarship given to us by Startup Malaysia and GIST, we are releasing a weekly blog post about our thoughts, collection of “what happened” here. As much as I would like to structure what is going on… I don’t think I will be able to. We are having such a blast here (learning, testing boundaries and capacity to socialize like MAD).
This is what our calendar looks like. And you might be thinking “Well this does not look so bad, except I have not included every single meeting we’ve had in that calendar yet!” Even on the 4th of July, it was a 4 hour hike around San Francisco which I did not follow and a huge networking BBQ party (with more details to come below). This is going to be a long post so brace yourself!
Day 1: Welcome to Silicon Valley!
They got us the poshest place at Golden Gate Club, next to the super famous Golden Gate and Presidio area. For the first keynote, they invited Christina Brodbeck who was also Youtube’s first interface designer and therefore, key employee. She also has stock in Youtube and described the acquisition deal in great detail like how she faxed the acquisition papers over public fax line (which is super insecure and could have resulted in a great mishap, but luckily nothing happened).
She was very genuine about how Youtube grew and kept saying, this was all too much fun for us. Working 18 hours a day – you don’t even feel it because you are surrounded by great people you really like. Youtube was founded by a group of about 5 friends who knew each other by the way. They also pivoted greatly.
Introduction to Tom Kosnik, Professor of Entrepreneurship in Stanford
Tom actually got us on all our feet to dance and it was kind of amazing how funny he was, dancing like crazy in the middle of the day to Katy Perry. He gave a rough overview of what he does, what Silicon Valley is like and his impressive background of working together with so many startups and huge companies.
Day 2: We are in Stanford!!
I studied in University of Bristol, UK but this university, compared to Bristol, was nothing! It was like a seriously huge airport – I cannot even begin to say how easy it was to get lost and how many acres of land you have to walk from the main gates to get into the “central oval” of Stanford.
Here, we met Saul Colt, a legendary “bold” and “alternative” marketeer, who is now a great friend at Piktochart. Saul started off saying that taking genuine care of your customers, even if it means listening out to their tweets, matter a lot. He gave so many tips which were “uncommon” and I shall list them out now:
We might be working with Saul for our marketing efforts.
We also were paired with a team of 4 students in Stanford who had really impressive backgrounds- they could code, design, have worked for huge companies like IBM, PWC, Accenture etc (in pale comparison with the interns we get in Malaysia). I did not take a photo with them, but they were throwing out a lot of ideas which are welcome but hardly implementable, e.g. “let’s apply an advertising model for Piktochart”
We really look forward to catch up with them next week on Monday again!
4th of July, but a full day of networking
Younoodle has a small office in SoMa (South of Market area) and they put all the chairs and tables to the side and had a huge party, with great pop-up BBQ as well as music, drinks! The party turned out to be a huge one with about 300-400 people attending. If you thought that BBQs meant eat and stay in a comfy corner with a group of friends, there was no way we were going to do that. Some people we spoke to:
- Designer at Disney Animations
- Managing Director of AirBNB
- Lawyer at Salesforce
- Doctor from Denmark
- Henrik Scheel from Startup Experience (he came over to gave Malaysian entrepreneurs a framework of how to run/grow business)
- Naval Ravikant, an angel investor
We could have tried even harder to speak to a couple of people in the crowd, e.g. Soundcloud but a lot of people had their own startups which might not yet have become a success, but one day, definitely, soon enough!