Enter Silicon Valley – Final Preparations

Editors note: i want to apologize for the time it took to write a new post, my macbook’s backlight broke after it fell off on March 1st, just a day after i landed in the US. That through me off balance and i lost my pace. After an agonizing two weeks, with no credit, no ability to make arrangements and three town changes, i am starting to get back on track, so expect a flood of posts in the next days 🙂 Thank you for your patience and keeping up!

This post is for a series named “Enter Silicon Valley“. It is a personal journal written as a how-to guide about how you as an outsider entrepreneur, can get your startup in one of the high tech communities, find people, funding and grow your company.

So, in our path to enter silicon valley we discussed how to get started, create your first presentation and what was the process of taking the final decision to make the leap. In this post we will explore how to make the final preparations for that leap, winning time, cutting corners and raising awareness for your effort.

Mental Preparation

Final Preparations is a Full Time Job

As i mentioned in my first post, the final month before your jump requires your full attention preparing for it. You must live day and night in the twitter stream, try to communicate with anyone you believe can help you in your path, understand who is who and the connections between everyone.

By now you should have honed on two or three high tech hubs, that will make your life easier in targeting the right people. You should have a good understanding of who are the players, who are the influencers, community leaders and the mavericks. What are the connections and relations between them. Follow them, target them, study them. Don’t contact them just yet, wait until you feel confident about what door you are knocking.

Twitter Is Your Friend

The world’s high tech startup avant garde has an active twitter account. Any high tech dude (or dudette) that respects himself has a twitter account.

Write that down 50 times. Leverage that fact to your benefit. Prominent high tech folks that are not active in twitter are only a hand-full and it’s quite unlikely you will bump into them anyway. But if you do, it will much easier to assess his real value by utilizing your current knowledge.

Create the best collection of people to follow and sit back and watch your twitter feed 24/7. First weeks simply watch, as you gain a better understanding of what goes you can try to engage with some of the smaller players and see how that goes. Trial and error is the way to go here… More on how to exploit that channel with a dedicated post on how to master the social media for your benefit…

Contact / Cold Mail

First things first, you need to think and set your goals, strategy and tactics. What do you need to achieve when moving to the high tech hub of your choice? Of course making your company successful is the ultimate goal, but how do you go about achieving that?

Is it funding? Is it people? Is it advice? Is it guidance / acceleration? A mix of all that? In what order? You have to set your goals and priorities. Even if you have no clue which is the right course, pick one and stick to it, if it’s your gut filling it’s probably right. Or wrong. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about!

Having your priorities and tactics in place you are ready to start cold e-mailing people. As a professional you should think of nothing less of that process than a full blown campaign to promote yourself and prepare the ground for your arrival. In that respect a Personal Contacts Manager will be more than required, personally i am using Gist and have even written a review about it.

Ask easy, open questions. One mistake i made was asking many questions to one person at once. A few were kind enough to reply to all of them but i had a high miss rate. So act smart, create your set of questions, and ask them one at a time to each one of your targets. You should have targeted enough people to mail all your questions three times or more. Geeks need numbers, so don’t go for less than 20 people, per area.

Create Awareness Of Your Effort

This is the single most important part. You have to raise awareness to your surroundings, community and country for what you are about to do. You never know where an introduction will pop out from and to what it may lead to.

I cannot stress how important that is, all your grandmother’s friends must know, your schoolmate that you haven’t talked to since high school must know, anyone in your country’s tech community must know […]

I got introductions from the least expected persons for the most unexpected places and situations (!). In the end, just a week before my trip, i started receiving calls by people who heard about what i was about to do, introducing me to people that will help me.

So, spread the word, be as vocal as possible, let everyone know!

And You Are Done! Congratulations!

So since you reached that point you kinda graduated from the informal school for Silicon Valley preparedness. Remember that you are the best advisor for yourself, anything you read or listen is just somebody’s babblings.

Since you followed this advice [or not], and at least made the effort of reading it, you are now ready to Enter Silicon Valley!

Golden Gate Bridge

1st photo courtesy of OrchidSparcDay 34 / 365 Mental Preparation
2nd photo from personal collection

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  1. Pingback: How Lean Startup Forced Me To Leave My Country | Thanasis Polychronakis

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