Two weeks ago, I set foot for the first time of my life in Silicon Valley. A moment full of emotions for me. Yes, a few years ago, I was dreaming of this place from my computer science school in Algiers (Shout out to you guys!) and now I am landing in this mysterious place to pitch my own startup, a moment I will never forget!
“the Founder Institute’s premier semi-annual gathering of fast-growing Graduates, top-rated Mentors and leading program Directors from [their] global network of technology entrepreneurs.
Over three days, hand-selected members of the Founder Institute network from six continents will visit Silicon Valley for a series of networking events, traction workshops and formal dinners. The goal of FounderX is to facilitate meaningful connections and learning between members of [the] global network.”
A lot happened during these few days, I’ve got the opportunity to pitch in front of investors, meet some amazing entrepreneurs, have meaningful and interesting conversations and last but not least I also had a lot of fun ;). Today, I would like to share with you the most important things I learned!
1- Talking about you and your company is scary, so just be true to yourself
I don’t know how many times I answered the question: “So what do you do?” and you can’t imagine how scary I was to answer these interesting people with incredible background and life journeys. I mean, is there a right answer to that? No, so I just answered with the truth without bullshiting, because you can feel it when someone does! The first times were a bit awkward and then it was easier and the more natural I was answering, the better reactions I got!
2- If you want to grow you need to give
I don’t know if it was because of the great FI community (special thanks to you guys!) but everyone out there was present to listen and share! The best ideas I had for my business were the ones we talked about during conversations with other entrepreneurs! I usually don’t like networking, I find it boring and energy consuming, but when it’s with people that share the same passions around ideas as you, it’s much easier! One of my Advisors told me once: “You can’t be a basketball player hanging around with football players, you need to evolve with people playing the same game as you” and he couldn’t be more true!
3- Even if you need the money you need to choose carefully your investors!
The main reason for FounderX is to help entrepreneurs to meet investors. Of course, I assume I don’t have to tell you that you need to do your due diligence before any meeting! However, there is something I want to emphasize on! Even if you’re in an urgent need for money, you can’t sell your soul to the devil. Let me explain, sometimes the feeling you have with a person is not great but because the person is willing to give you some money, you just don’t listen to your gut feeling and go with it, I truly think this is a great mistake! the relationship with investors should be for mutual benefits! If it’s not the case, don’t go there!
4- Anyone can make it!
I was born and raised in Algeria (Here in the map), I have been living in montreal for 4 years only and I got the opportunity to pitch my startup in front of investors in the Silicon Valley… I sure still have a long way to go, still have to make it happen, to give value to my customers and make them happy… but I am working hard to get there and when you do that, magic can happen!
To finish this post, I would like to add that you could have as many trips to the Valley as you would like to, but if you can’t deliver and make something out of it, it will only count as another touristique trip… So, whenever you wanna go there, prepare for it, I had the chance to be helped and prepared by the (great) FI team that prepared us both in terms of materials and mental (we usually neglect this part but trust me, it’s important!). Also, nurture the relationships that you build there, everyone is important, help if you can, keep conversations open and when you don’t feel a person, don’t waste your time, trust your guts!
I didn’t have the chance nor the time to see any well known places there (Facebook Offices, Google Campus or Appel offices), but I definitely came back from this trip pumped and full of positive energy, I believe I still have a long way to go for my company, my fundraising as well as for me personally but I am ready for it!