2014 marks the 5-year anniversary of the “Go Silicon Valley” tech initiative and for 18 remarcable Austrian startups it also represents the year they dive into the Silicon Valley experience.
inventures.eu caught up with journi and Sphares, two of the winning startups to find out how it feels to go to mekka of the international startup scene, how they handle expectations and pressure and we even received an exclusive To-Do list for startups still due to arrive in San Francisco.
As part of the “Go Silicon Valley“ tech initiative, funded by the Ministry of Economy and the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ) earlier this year Austrian tech startups presented themselves to a panel of high-profile US judges, of which 18 have being selected (click here for the complete list). Now they are about to participate in a three-month business accelerator program in Silicon Valley. In partnership with the Plug & Play Tech Center and NestGSV, the Austrian startups will benefit from the use of a workplace, an introduction to U.S. business practices, networking with investors and potential business partners and finally a pitch in front of potential investors.
Photo credit: journi
First impressions, first changes
“It is great to get the chance to go there. This will hopefully get us into the wider Start-Up Community of the Valley even quicker,” Dietmar Gombotz, CEO and founder of Shpares told inventures.eu. “We think the outside view will definitely help us with our project and we are eager to go.” Sphares, who will travel to Silicon Valley later this year, is taking on the challenge of online collaboration by providing a service that integrates different systems and synchronises them, so that users can collaborate with their colleagues while still using their favorite tools.
Already richer for the experience of a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge is Andreas Röttl, CEO of journi (formerly Miavia), a startup providing an effortless way to record trips by taking pictures. “It feels great to be here and have the chance to dive into this extraordinary startup environment. But the real work has just began. It is 99% on us to get most out of the 3 month.”
Photo credit: journi
For journi, the move to the States has already brought a few changes. “The whole team now lives and works together. We rent an airbnb house in Bernal Heights. Our office is the kitchen table, with a blackboard on the wall. In the evening and on the weekends we try to connect to the local travel scene, explore the area, go to hot spots, hostels, bars, make excursions,” said Röttl.
First goals, first meetings
Next on the schedule are first meetings for which the team of journi has to go to the city of Palo Alto. For the meetings they have defined clear goals and tasks on how to reach those goals. “Our main goal is to get journi established in the US and grow the number of active users. Second goal is to get about two advisors who can support us with their experience and network in social, mobile and travel.” However, the startup does not expect to close an investment round in the US. “It is super tough for European startups to get an investment in the US when not willing to stay here and found an inc,” Röttl added.
Gombotz has a similar view: “Our goals from SV and the accelerator (NestGSV) is to take out as much feedback as possible, get connections and grow our product. However, our major goal is to connect outside of the NestGSV world to many service providers and VCs/Angels in order to get feedback and grow our network as a strategic step for the future.”
The accelerator program will commence on the 16th of July for the first batch of startups with an intense 3 day workshop. Stay tuned for more Silicon Valley insights on inventeures.eu!
Photo credit: journi
How to get ready for Silicon Valley
What can you expect as a CEE startup looking to spend a couple of months in Silicon Valley? Andreas Röttl shared his top 8pieces of advice:
- Be aware that this adventure is rather expensive, even if you’re going to participate in an accelerator program and receive a small investment.
- Be aware that it’s actually more work than back home. You’re in an environment where you don’t know anybody and have to work hard to get recognized.
- Do your homework! Make sure you know what you want to achieve during your time here. What do you have to do? Who do you want to meet? Your mentors at the accelerator program can’t help you if you don’t know what you want to achieve and where you need help.
- If you want to meet someone: I really recommend the post from Thomas Korte (Angelpad founder) and Steve Blank on how to meet people in the valley and cold emailing. Give people something back, not only take!
- Learn your pitch!
- Get organized before you leave. You don’t have time to think what’s next!
- Be open for feedback. Don’t take it personal if you get really bad feedback. Find out what you can take away from that feedback.
- It could be super exciting here and time goes by very quickly, so don’t forget about your users and providing them with a great product/service.