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Innovation is not in one place, innovation is everywhere.
ImagineCC is one of the best hubs of talent in Barcelona. During the last five years they've done more than 15 editions. All of them consist in creating innovation through connecting talented people, their ingredients: methodology, excellent mentors, better talent and travelling experiences every time. Their best edition: Imagine Silicon Valley, where they bring Spanish entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley in order they can learn how the best startup ecosystem works.
Some of their projects have been successfully founded and implemented. And they always leave their clients satisfied, changing at the same time the life of the dreamers that participate.
I've been one of this lucky dreamers. An that's the 10 key learning points during my experience.
1. Don't launch here your startup.
I know this contradicts what everyone has been telling. I advise to launch your companies (start-ups) in other parts of the world and move to Silicon Valley just when your businesses are more settled and seeking international projection.
Why? Housing costs, wages, costs make bootstrapping imposible.
(Well I will just recommend to launch if you enter in Y combinator.)
2. Spaniards/Catalans are everywhere and they want to help.
People from your same region are willing to help you. Talk with them. Write them. Ask for advice.
3. Talk to people
Over and over again, successful entrepreneurs give the same advice: “Get out there and talk to everyone you can in your industry who has been in your shoes.” You won’t get anywhere fast without the insights—and help—of people who’ve gone before you and know your space.
4. Product, product, product
In Silicon Valley they don't have the best technology, probably the best tech is in labs around America and Europe, I know by my experience in Hello Tomorrow. But.... they are the best trend builders, if you want to launch something B2C totally oriented to mass consume. Sometimes you don't know if they have success because they create what users need or because they create new needs for users.
5. Silicon Valley’s energy and sense of urgency is contagious
That's something I also found in Israel. They are in a rush. In a rush to launch, in a rush to experience, rush every single day... That's not the place if you want to do meditation... or maybe yes. But the point is that for launching, for creating any project you need to be fast: perfection is the enemy of profitability.
6. Ideas are nothing. Execution is key.
Everyone thought about something incredible. I'm not the first one willing to join together all the country experts from one entire generation, but probably one of the first in creating it.
Ideas don't worth anything, what is really valuable is the team ready to create it, their reliability and skills to make things happen.
7. Vision is key
Sometime even if you have the perfect execution, and the perfect team, talent and environment. You need an objective, a concrete, measurable, transcendent and clear goal. Something that push you, your team and your future investors forward.
8. Silicon Valley is unequal.
In 2014, the difference in median income between high-wage and low-wage workers was around $92,000, compared to around $70,000 elsewhere in the Bay Area. One of the biggest differences in the world. Meanwhile, the number of mid-wage jobs in Silicon Valley has also declined 4.5 percent since 2001, reflecting a larger trend across the country.
And you can see it everywhere, wherever you go there's always homeless people. Organizations calculate there's between 10,000 and 30,000. The shelter system has 1,200 beds.
9. Talent is everywhere
Talent is not more common there. Startups are not better here than in other environments. And the people that works here, does exactly the same you do, they are not more brilliant. Their only different because they are just based there. But they have the same fears, needs, habits and probably same skills.
10. Move here your startup
There are many reasons Silicon Valley produces the most aggregate value, regardless of whether measured on Wall Street or in the private markets. First, starting with investors themselves, not only have investors crafted a set of remarkably good litmus tests for making funding decisions. They have also refined a set of best practices for growing startups. This is not to say that Silicon Valley investors are perfect, or even as good as they could be at what they do - but the level of the venture capital game in Silicon Valley is among the best in the world. They have better systems to make your company grow, more adapted to new tendences.
SV investors and startups have an unfair advantage, growth capital is readily available, geographic concentration has verifiable benefits for startups themselves, reasonable risk-taking is culturally supported.
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