Update from BlackBox Connect — 1 week in SF

It has been a fully packed week during the first five days of the BlackBox Connect programme — by Friday night I was exhausted. Saturday I went back to sleep after breakfast and slept a solid 3 hrs. Learning all the ins and outs of the Silicon Valley startup scene is really an energy-consuming exercise.

The program is a combination of talks given by visiting entrepreneurs, investors and advisers, group workshop activities to work on our respective business strategies and pitches, and a couple of site visits to Google and Eventbrite.

The participants are 15 AMAZING female founders from around the world. Very humbling to be discussing business strategy alongside an app that has the first 3 million users, and another company that has just raised €9M just to give a couple of examples… We are the 15th BlackBox connect programme and you can see the intro of our cohort here: http://blackbox.vc/portfolio/?program=bbc-15

The key take-home message so far:

Silicon Valley is all about building relationships

Fadi introduced us to the concept in his very first presentation about how to build a team and get results, and the concept of building trust and relationships has been both reiterated and demonstrated by the incredibly inspiring speakers we have enjoyed. Every speaker has been open to connect and share experiences. Every speaker has reached out to share first, trust first, following the Silicon Valley ethos of “pay it forward”.

We have learnt from experienced entrepreneurs how they built their business raised funding and developed amazing products. And repeated through the stories are descriptions of how strong relationships were built with the team, with the investors, with the users to build success.

Our site visit this week was to Google Campus where we heard presentations from Ching-Yu Hu (Skybox), Gretchen Howard (Google Capital) and Dave Munichiello (Google Ventures).

Next week we have many more fantastic speakers in store and a site visit to Eventbrite. The program will end next Friday with a bang of a startup showcase and dinner party to conclude our stay.

It is past 10pm and way past my bedtime. I have meetings and calls from 7am every day next week again, so it is time for me to get some shut-eye.

This weekend we had the random luck of being in town for the San Francisco Bay-to-Breakers 12k race, which is not as much a race as it is a street festival of people dressing up like crazy, loud music, dancing in the streets — quite extraordinary and recommended if you like the randomness that makes people dress like a minion dressed up as a superhero…

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