Last week I had the opportunity to visit Silicon Valley with a smart bunch of entrepreneurs and meet Venture capitalists and investors. The experience was phenomenal, I was fully immersed in the culture and the success of SV from the moment I landed in sunny Cali.
After my call with Zoi co-founder @FutureX, a few days later I had an email to say that I had been accepted to join a cohort of 4 like-minded entrepreneurs and find out more about doing business in USA. Feeling grateful and honoured to get selected out of hundreds of founders, of course, I jumped in! I had no idea what to expect when I jumped on the 10.5-hour flight from London Heathrow to San Fransisco.
From breakfasts with successful entrepreneurs, lunch with a law firm, workshops on design thinking, masterclasses with investors, to visiting Stanford University, dinner in town and building relationships with some leaders of international corporations.
Bruce CEO of Future X shared this,
“The FutureX Silicon Valley Scale programme is one of the most exclusive tech growth programmes in the UK and each year we seek to identify exciting high growth and purpose driven startups looking to learn and develop.”
From the get go, I was like a sponge, learning, growing and challenging myself. Although I was a little jet lagged, my brain felt like it was in overdrive. I took lots of notes and gained insights into the mindset of entrepreneurs and investors. Here are the key takeaways:
Failure is the key to success
Failure is like a bruise, not a tattoo. As long as you learn from it, failure will never be permanent. Take the risk, fail and get up again but fail forward. I love this attitude because as Brits we have a ‘fear of failure’ mentality which stops us from trying. In Silicon Valley, failure is a crucial stepping stone for business success and is tested by those who have experienced success before us.
Failure is celebrated in SV and that may be one of the reasons why this 1854 sq mile area is the world’s Disneyland for tech, talent and innovation.
Being an entrepreneur is not about the end result but the journey that you embark on. Look past your failures and pursue your goals with persistence, a great piece of advice by Eric McAfee, VC and investor at the masterclass. He spoke about his personal journey and asked himself “are you getting up and having fun and meeting interesting people?” When you love what you do and are passionate about it, persistence is a no-brainer.
Ask for what you want
Chris Neumann from Panache ventures shared an insight with us which really stuck, “Be specific when reaching out, stop dancing around.” People are busy and with that in mind, they don’t have the time to guess what you want or play email tennis, so make it easy for them, pick up the phone and ask directly rather than the reserved ‘Britishness’ culture we are used to.
And think big. Perhaps limiting your thinking by listening to your inner critic and playing small isn’t serving you. The magic of thinking big has got me from where I was to where I am now. Imposter syndrome is a limiter to your ability, trust me I know from experience that many of my clients have changed their mindset, been promoted, started a business and made more money. If fear wasn’t an option, how would you like your life to look and feel?
Pay it forward
One of the most generous cultures of SV is giving and expecting nothing in return. At the dinner with some inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs, what I noticed was the willingness to introduce you to their connections. In this way, they can help others to keep spreading kindness to even more people to make the world a better place. The attitude of kindness is infectious. I have the bug!
By Pinky Ghadiali founder of netwomen.co