I have been living now for over 6 years in Silicon Valley. I co-founded two companies, released three products; currently, I’m working on SafeRoom a secure messenger for businesses. Also, I advise several startups in the US and Germany, support entrepreneurs and meet regularly with c-level managers from all types of corporations and at some point, it always comes down to one question: “What makes the Silicon Valley different?”
Many books cover this topic. Every year shiploads of eager managers travel to the tech-Mecca to find the special sauce. They look for the magic recipe and try to understand why Silicon Valley is the innovation hub of the world and, in my opinion, will stay as such for the next few decades.
Roman has been living in Silicon Valley for over 6 years, he co-founded two companies, released three products; currently, he is working on SafeRoom a secure messenger for businesses. He advises several startups in the US and Germany, supports entrepreneurs, consults regularly with C-level managers from all types of organizations and inspires many others in keynote presentations and workshops. As Director San Francisco at FUTURE CANDY, he brings the expertise and operating principles of the Silicon Valley to Germany.
Before he moved to San Francisco he was Global Innovation Advisor for TrendONE where he was leading more than 80 trends scouts. Roman studied International Business at University of Applied Science in Bremen and Universiti Putra Malaysia. He gained additional work experience in Malaysia and China.
Whether the next app, artificial intelligence, virtual reality or Blockchain technology you cannot find another location on this planet where the density of new and old companies working in innovative fields is so high.
Other regions are trying their best to close the gap. They invest heavily in infrastructure and make capital easily available for new, young startup founders seeking their first round of funding to get their idea started. Some regions like Tel Aviv, Berlin or Shanghai, are making good progress but none of them is even coming close to the power of the Silicon Valley.
Many factors that make the Valley successful, but only a few are not replicable easily. I will not talk about money. That would be another article, but here are my top four points that make the Valley different from any other place in the world. The startup e-LSD:
“No other place produces more innovative companies and products than the Valley.”
Experience is tough to replicate. Everyone has to acknowledge that no other place exists in the world with such a high pace and level of experience. There are hundreds of law firms, patent lawyers, accountants, suppliers, strategists, advisors and investors who practice over three decades of founding and supporting startups. Not only is this the place, where most companies are born but also the place many companies die. Digital economic Darwinism is at its highest pace. The survival of the fittest is at its peak with great generational changes. Comparing SV with the rest of the world is comparing the speed of evolution with fruit flies vs giant sequoia trees. The Valley, like the fruit flies, creates 25 generations each year. It can quickly learn and adapt to changes, mistakes and successes. What works, works and replicates fast. What doesn’t work dies off quickly. In other parts of the world, even with lots of artificial effort, forced startup infrastructure and little experience startup culture still seem in its infancy. In the Valley every mistake, every failure is making it easier for other companies to learn, adapt and try even better. I was on so many launch parties of companies not existing anymore in comparison to the few that are still around. But every one of them contributed to the growing swarm intelligence. Every time you encounter an obstacle; you realize others have already overcome it.
“Never go to bed as dumb as you woke up."
The first time I arrived in Silicon Valley, I realized from the first minute that I had to learn. The common phrase was: You should read this, you should read that. There was so much knowledge out there. I needed to learn from people I meet, from companies, experiences, events and books. Whenever you talk to people, they recommend books they are reading. The whole tech environment is constantly sucking up every piece of knowledge they can grasp. Everyone knows learning never stops. You can never go to bed as dumb as you woke up that morning. People here accept that there‘s no limit to expanding the level of experience. Wanting to learn more and more becomes an intrinsic force surrounding this place.
“If you don’t share your problems, no one can help you.”
A big mistake I made when I moved here, was to keep my idea secret (stealth mode). We only told people what we were doing if they signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). I remember the first meeting with other experienced founders. They would never sign such a thing and didn’t care if we told them anything or not. “Either you tell so you get feedback, or you don’t, and you learn nothing.” Since then I knew how it works. You share, you tell, and then you listen and learn. You learn that every problem at the moment is solved already somewhere by someone. The answers are out there, and you need to ask the questions. Get out-of-the-building and talk about what you do. Everyone is busy with their idea, project, company or work. No one drops their pen and steals your idea. As a German, who is used only to share validated, perfect ideas ready for the public, it still is hard to fight not to keep things to yourself.
However, it is important that you give as well. Whenever you can, you have to help and share your successes. The systems only work if everyone contributes. If you only take and never give you will be left out. It’s giving and take.
“Nothing is a mistake! There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make!”
Many people come up with great ideas. Many people find good solutions to the worlds or little problems, but when you live here in the Valley, you feel forced to go out and try it. If you have an idea in your head, you hear about those stories of people who make things happen. Eventually, you try yourself. Even if you are not an entrepreneur yourself, but by witnessing the ease of starting up, you realize the need to found and go. So many people I talked to and travelled through the valley started something afterwards. Either small or big. You never know until you make. Being surrounded by people who do all the time is the best encouragement. Because even if your idea doesn’t work out, at least now you know. You are smarter than before and richer in experience. Nothing is lost. Just do it!
So now it’s up to you. Experience on your own. I recommend everyone to come and visit this magic place of innovation. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the CCW2019 and learn from you. Reach out to me and meet me for coffee or beer by the Bay to discuss how I am wrong or right.