The maker movement started about 10 years ago. It is A community-based workshop and prototyping studio on a mission to democratize access to the tools of innovation, making it possible for everyone to use tools they don’t have access to otherwise.
Today we visited Tech shop, which was the first of its kind, and known today as global innovation. It is a DIY (do it yourself) movement. So Tech shop is a place where people come to build there own things and get the help they need to make their ideas to a prototype and eventually to a real product, ready for the market. Tech shop SF is the first of its kind in the world. It is located in a very spacious room in 2 floors. It surprised us that they had so many tools and these big places where you can do anything you like. So whatever your idea is Tech shop can help you build it. Customers are able to take courses to learn how to operate the machines so they can work on their own. Tech shop has a variety of classes and workshops that can help people get the knowledge they lack.
What we loved the most about Tech shop is the atmosphere, the people that are a part of this movement are really open about their projects and willing to share their ideas, and get advice from each other. The maker movement is a wonderful change to the world, where people are able to experiment and play with modern technology.
TechShop is packed with cutting-edge tools, equipment, and computers loaded with design software featuring the Autodesk Design Suite. Most importantly, TechShop offers space to make, and the support and camaraderie of a community of makers.
This visit inspired us to speak more open minded about my own ideas and be more willing to discuss ideas in the open, because every idea gets better when you get feedback from other people.
After visiting the TechShop we walked over the street to visit Cobaltix, where we were greeted with a wonderful location, open space with friendly coworkers and an old brick building. Here we met up with Steven Walker who talked about how it is to be an entrepreneur and gave us some great advices about what we should always keep in mind when starting your own business. Cobaltix is a company that provides business Technology Consulting. They are the discreet technology company used by some of the most forward thinking and leading Bay Area firms who hire only the very best. Their business is based on word-of-mouth.
Steven wanted to tell us that when we start a company you should always work with somebody with the capacity to go all the way to the finish line. He told us about some great point to keep in mind.
Nr 1 You should choose your target audience
Nr 2 Make a business model
Nr 3 Test your product and get feedback
Nr 4 Take the necessary courses you need to learn about taxes and other things you need to keep in order.
Nr 5 know how the laws work in the country you are working in
Nr 6 know what will happen if you go bankrupt
Nr 7 Who is taking the risk?
Nr 8 Learn to write your own contracts ( just watch the movie Godfather)
Nr 9 Know who you are as a leader
Nr 10 Build the culture of your company
Nr 11 Be interested in people
Nr 12 Belive in yourself, because if you don't nobody wil.
And later on Steven asked us some questions about how we want the world to see us and reminded us that we are the company, so everything you do as a person it will reflect your company. The most important thing we learned from this visit to be honest in what you do, and keep in mind if what you are doing if it is worth it.
Today we vent for a visit at The Autodesk Gallery, which is located in the financial district downtown San Francisco. The building itself is a very beautiful piece of arkitektur, when you walk through the big glass doors into a hallway that open itself again and you are standing in the lobby, feeling very small and it is like being outside of another building, but you are still inside, like a garden in the building. We continued to the second floor where this crazy looking dress was in a glass box, later on we learned that it was a spider dress build to push people away from you if you felt threatened from others. The dress worked like a spider that opened itself up and spread it legs around your neck, a very nice first impression of Autodesk.
The Autodesk gallery is known for bringing together stories of exceptional design and engineering from across the globe, the Autodesk Gallery celebrates the creative process and shows how people are using new technology to imagine, design, and create a better world.
After learning more about the spider dress we continued into a big room full of amazing things, we were welcomed by art techtular sculpture of building in San Francisco and from other places around the world. Then we continuet with the lovely woman who was so kind to give us a tour around the gallery and talked about the exhibition. Among the things we saw was a car built by BMW with Conceptual design
With a weight restriction of 1,000 pounds and just a month for design, Mercedes-Benz turned to biomimicry and the symbiotic relationships of nature for inspiration. The Biome is made from a biological material called BioFibre, uses bioluminescence for headlights, releases pure oxygen as it operates, and becomes a seamless part of the ecosystem.
In the Gallery we saw many things like, giant dinosaur build with 62,500 individual pieces that LEGO build by using a combination of 3D modeling and its own proprietary software before constructing piece-by-piece virtual versions of the large-scale creations. We also saw a model of how people are trying to cure cancer. Design football that makes energy while playing with it, so children are able to use the football as a lamp after playing with it. They are so many innovative things in the gallery and we could have spent many hours there just reading about the thing there, but unfortunately we had to leave at one point. Our favorite thing about this visit was for sure the Instagram photobooth.
Today we vent on our first tour to the famous Silicon Valley! We hopped on a bus early morning in this very big black bus, and later on we found out that there were some really good speakers installed and party lights, we had a really nice lady driving us called Lakrisha.
Our first stop was at Plug & Play which is a global innovation platform for startups, corporations, and investors.They connect startups to corporations, and invest in over 100 companies every year.
They have 22 locations across the world with success stories that include PayPal, Dropbox, SoundHound, and Lending Club.
Every year, they review 4,000 startups, invest in over 100, and run industry-specific accelerator programs.
They provide investments alongside 180 leading Silicon Valley VC partners, and help 300 corporate partners to license, pilot, and co-invest. With more than 365 networking events per year, office space on demand, and corporate introductions, they have created the ultimate startup ecosystem.
Plug & Play was a unique place to go for a visit. In the building we were able to see on the wall all of the company's founded there and there sponsors. The building is very big and host a large office space for the startups, it was kinda like walking through a Roskilde camp, but cleaner! There were flags of every company and people were working all over and the place had these old fashion grey walls like the ones you see in old movies. Most of the startup companies are in the building for a short amount of time or until they grow to big to be there longer, it is normal to be there for about three years, but of course the startups all grow in difference speed.
In the building the have this huge stage where people come to pitch their ideas in front of hundreds of people and quite often people have raised fundings for millions in just a few seconds, like our host said it just takes about 10 seconds for the investors to make up their mind if they want to invest or not.
One of the most interesting things we learned about Plug & Play was that they have something called Startup Camp. The camp is a 10-week program designed to immerse startups and entrepreneurs into the Silicon Valley environment. Through a combination of structured workshops, speaker series, mentorship sessions as well as active coaching, startup founders will crystallize their ideas and business plans, build out their startup’s business model and prototypes as well as present their refined pitches to the venture capital community. Qualified Startup Camp participants are eligible to receive an investment of $25,000 upon acceptance into the program.
After visiting Plug & Play we saw that there are a lot of opportunities for startups to gain foundings, you just have to be willing to push yourself forward and learn by doing.
After the wonderful experience of visiting Plug & Play our girl Lakrisha drove us further into Silicon Valley and on our way to visit one of the most known company in the world! Google. When we were driving into Google we learned that the company does not only have one large office building, it actually has a whole village to itself! The Google village. Everywhere we looked we could see google bikes in the same colors as there logo, mouse cars and happy smiling people. Being in Google villages was a very special feeling, it was almost like we were in the center of all information, I mean how are you suppose to feel when everything we don't know we use Google to google it!
After arriving in our lovely bus we were to meet up with Simone Styr a danish woman working in Google. She showed us around Google campus and inside the company were all the magic happens. Our first impression of Google was this warm feeling and everyone seemed very happy there. Google works in teams and on different projects. If you want to work for Google you have to pass a various amount of tests and proving that you have the right skills needed for the job.
The company spirit was very young and Simone told us that most of her coworkers are around 30 years of age. And as we said before people work in teams in different projects, but Google also inquorate their employees to work innovated and reach out to other coworkers. Like Simone did when she wanted to work on specific case she wrote to a team and asked if she could join them for the project and wrote about what skills she could offer.
Google is known for taking very good care about there employees. In Google campus the have doctors, dentist, hairdresser, gym, juice bar, cafeteria, food, swimming pool, volleyball court and so much moore. Google wants their employees to feel good at work and research has shown that it is cheaper and more effective to have doctors and dentist at the camp because then people don't have to spend more than half of the day to see a doctor.
One of our favorite things about Google was that every thursday the founders came to the cafeteria on the stage they have there and record a meeting for all of their coworkers around the world. There they share the ideas they are working on and keep everyone updated, nothing is a secret and everything in Google is open to all of their employees, which we think is wonderful. Employees also have the opportunity to ask them questions about that the want answers, but our host Simone has not yet come up with a question she wants answered.
And of course we had a lot of fun cycling around the Google village and visiting the Google souvenir store.
Elise talked to us about the emotional site of being a entrepreneur. She started out by telling us a little bit about her background and her education. She quickly discovered that she did not feel good about having a boss and inflexible hours at her job, so her goal became to be her own boss.
The road to her new life was not easy and as she went back to school for 2 years she had to work a fulltime job while attending school. So for 2 years she spent about 6-12 hours everyday on work or school and her schedule was so tight that she only allowed herself one day a week to meet up with her friends, and she did that to grow the friendships that really mattered, and to feel like a human being from time to time. Lisa had to pass down many social events like weddings and birthdays to keep up with her robotic life, but at the same time she kept reminding herself about the goal, being her own boss! After the 2 years of struggle she went on a long needed vacation to assemble the energy to come back and start her own company.
When she first started the company she had a partime job to help her with the mortgage and to be sure to have some income and it also allowed her to life more relaxed and not having to spend all of her savings. After only 6 months she quit her part time job and went all in with her business. After quitting her life became so emotional, because now she had to provide for herself and she had no extra income. Elise talked to us about how it was to jump from being on the top of the word one day and feeling like you can accomplish everything and next day almost crying and worrying about if you can pay the rent next month it was a true rollercoaster of emotions she said. The only thing Elise kept saying to herself was, you just have to keep on going forward, no matter how the outcome will be. She also talked about the emotional part of being an entrepreneur and that you have to desire to live a stress free life and learn to life with your fears. Lisa kept reminding us that all stories are different and people will have to find there own idea to deal with the stress of not being successful. As long as you take the unknown and embrace it as it comes everything will be alright and then she quoted that she is still learning everyday to deal with the entrepreneur life.
When she started her company she wanted to sell products that she truly believed herself, because as she says, if you don’t believe in it nobody will and trust me people will see right through you. She started the company with 3 products and today she has about 15. And she believes in every product and she doesn't want to have anything she doesn’t trust. You have to believe in what you are saying.
She started to sell her product online by creating a webpage through Yelp. She created some keyword to reach out to the segment she thought was right for the customers she was searching for and to get to the people she wanted to work with. Today Elise has 2 websites, one for her clinic and one for her products.
Elise works with clinic product like cleansers, cerum and so on. She produces many of the products herself and she is also working with a chemist that puts together the products. She loves working with fresh products, so she makes a new batch when the product is running out and she tries to predict how much she will sell.
Elise thinks that it is really important to enjoy working with other people and keep on being open minded. Each person who wants to become an entrepreneur has to despite what kind of entrepreneur you are going to be and what will be the sole purpose of the thing you are working with. It was different and hard for Lisa to be different from her parents, who always had a steady job and a paycheck ready but today she would not trade it for the world, because being the boss of your own company gives her the freedom she always wanted.
Elise encourage people to take classes in the things you need to know about, like taxes and paperwork and just some regular business classes and generally the things you need. And don’t be afraid of asking people for help, and keep in mind to be openminded. Elise is a part of groups on Facebook and also shows up to social events with entrepreneurs to keep updated and hold on to her network.
Elise told us to don’t forget about enjoying life and remember to take some time off when you have the change, because there will come times when you work almost 24/7 and some days just a few hours. When Elise has some down time in her company she usually takes the time to organise and schedule what she wants to do with her time.
Today we went for a visit to Cicso, with is the worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by proving that amazing things can happen. Cisco has about 70.000 coworkers and have an income for about 40 million USD.
The reason that we went to visit such a large company was to hear the experience from Katrina the Ceo of a small Danish company that Cisco bought back in 2013.
The danish startup company is about web sharing, web calls, video calls and conference calls. They focus on b2b business. They told us a little bit about how come they decided to move to the states and how they started the company back in Denmark.
When they were starting up the company in Denmark they needed funding, which is a little bit more difficult to get in Denmark than in San Francisco where investors are eager to find the next big thing. They needed a smart way to get fundings, so they wrote to ten of the riches man in Denmark and hoped for the best. One by one these rich men turned them down until the very last one replied later and said he wanted to back them up, so they had their capital to start the company.
Katrina told us about the hard and long process when cisco was buying the company, it took them four months and cost a lot of money with lawyers and everything else. Cisco had 120 employees looking into the company at once. Cisco had every receipt and paychecks of every employee. Katrina told us to remember to have everything in check from day one, because you never know if your company will be bought one day. Cicso was looking detailed into everything because they will be legally responsible for everything in the company after buying it.
One of the hard things about it was how they were going to split the shares in the company. When Cisco bought the company they also bought the employees,so they are currently working in Cisco and will at least do that for two years. Katrina also told us that it is more complicated to buy another business because you have to go through every document in the company. She also told us that everybody wants to buy a startup that are likely to grow, because then your run of investment will be so much higher when the company is profitable.
Big companies like Cisco are usually the companies who buys another company, because it is so expensive and complicated. Cisco had to buy the investor's share at double the price.
Katrina also talked a little bit about getting Visa in Usa and that it is much easier to get it if you are working for a American company. And the most important thing she told us that you don’t want to sell your company to someone that only wants a part of it, you want somebody to buy it all, someone like you with ambition. And keep in mind that everything is a struggle and entrepreneurship works like a rollercoaster.
Today we met up with Director of Product Strategy, Jason Smale. Over the past 7 years Jason and his team at Zendesk have been deployed there Rails applications almost every way you can think of.
As Jason said himself, we are trying to make software sexy, something that people want to work with everyday. Jason told us about Zendesk and how they have been building up their image and changing the company logo and designs.
When Zendesk first started they took inspiration from Buddha, the company wanted to be the fun and inspired company. When Buddha was there main logo everything had a green color. Zendesk wanted to look more professional and have the opportunity to work with more colors in their designs, so they changed the logo to objects in various colors, so that it will be more fun to work with. Zendesk also wanted the office building to be more inspirational for their coworkers, because creativity blossom when you are inspired by your surroundings.
Jason showed us how they work with product designs and how they have developed through the years. When they first started launching software they just build it and put it out in the open before really testing it, because they wanted to do things faster and be innovative. Jason said that over the years they are always learning and getting better, they now have a hole canvas on launching products, that involves testing the product, making prototypes, personas and getting feedback. At Zendesk the people keeps learning from their mistakes and teach each other about it. The company is all about communicating between the business and the company.
We found it really inspiring that Zendesk uses a design thinking process and actually gives the developer a piece of pen and post its and starts sketching and comparing ideas together. They also uses personas to get inspired to whom they are developing the products for. Zendesk employes do a lot of reachers and talks to there customers and are always trying to be better. They also try to keep in mind the customers they are developing for and try not to put things in there system that they don’t need, keeping it simple and easy to use. We find that it was really nice to connect to the things we learn about in E-design and seeing it being used in real life.
One of the important things they do is get to know the competitions, so they buy their software and compare it to there own, and are trying to be different than the rest. At Zendesk they also think it is important to be fun and they try to connect to people's Ethos, keep it simple and form a emotional attachment.
Jason said that it is important to keep talking to your customers, ask them if they are interested in the product, get feedback and go back and forth to do your products better.
Today we visited the headquarters of Unity.
Unity Technologies offers a platform for creating beautiful and engaging 2D, 3D, VR, and AR games and apps. A powerful graphics engine and full-featured editor enable you to realize your creative vision fast, and deliver your content to virtually any media or device.
When we visited Unity we were offered a nice meal in there large cafeteria located in the basement of the building. Then we vent upstairs to the 3rd. floor of this huge office building, and there we were introduced to a group of people that are working in different areas in the company. We thought it was really nice treatment and a good way to show that they are interested in hearing and talking to students, they even incuraged us to apply for internship there. I could see a clear similar to the coworkers we met up with, all had some fun detail about them, like blue hair, special earrings, lot of eyeliner, massive T-shirts and more in other word I could see this people belonged in this company together as a team.
The lab team in Unity i currently working on making it easier for people to design their own game, even people that are not developers. The coworkers told us that most employees are working on projects of their own, besides work. They are also working on a new technique that makes it easier and faster to work in 3D. They use virtual reality to figure out how the body moves and how that can help them build up characters in the games.
The game industry is the most passionate industry you will ever come upon, because everyone is so emotional about their work and are really passionate about it, so almost everyone are so high up all the time.
The Product marketing in Unity focuses on who the client is for each product. They work with personas and they think a lot about how the products will meet the user for the first time. They want to know who they are speaking to and how to sell it to them.
Unity also has classes about how to get better at building things in unity and are always trying to push their boundaries. Unity is a 12 years old company, and surprisingly they just started 5 years ago to bring in designers. The designers usually come in at later stages to help out with the look.
Unity also works a lot with reseachers and keep updated on how other companies work and they told us that they do not only work with positive feedback, but also negative and are always trying to be better.
The 5 year plan at Untity is to become more more inclusive with different process. Programmers want to focus on how people can teach themselves how to make a game and having more connected world. They want to make Unity as known as Ps. Unitys main customers are game developers.
We visited AirBnB today! So cool! And even though Emma had a massive hangover from Taco Tuesday yester, she still managed to get out of bed (or the bathroom might be a more accurate word, since most of the morning was spend with her head down the toilet, delightfully reviewing the tacos that had brought so much joy just few hours before) and into the exciting world of California in sunlight. Miracles do really happen everyday. Bryndis was unfortunately very sick from Taco Tuesday, so she stayed home. Most of the day were off before we had to be at AirBnB in the afternoon, so I (Emma) got to enjoy a delicious avocado sandwich accompanied by a Coca-Cola and a strong cup of coffee, before walking the Haight area.
We got to AirBnB and walked in to a really cool looking office.The presentation was made by Ben and Sally and was super exciting - definitely the coolest visit yet! They both worked in the creative department and for us e-designers, it seemed like nothing less than the perfect workplace. Their job was literally what our education is about. The took care of all sorts of things - both the more regular design stuff, for example when the experience-part of AirBnB just launched with the most amazing posters, but also stuff like events and more ‘just for fun’-stuff. They had a whole floor for themselves with ping pong tables and the coolest workspaces! Oh my oh my, I was jealous of them and if I could move into that office, I would have, without question.
Everything was impressive and stunning and charming and just awesome. I unfortunately don’t even remember what they talked about that much, I just remember the feeling of pure joy and excitement. The cool vibe there was, how everyone just seemed to enjoy working there, and how everyone was looking like they were straight out of a magazine or something.
It seems like the great work environment is really important to a lot of the bigger companies. It almost seems like they compete in having the best kitchen facilities and the best snack bars. Denmark could definitely learn from that! At AirBnB for example, on one floor they had decorated all of the meeting rooms like actual AirBnB apartments, which really meant that you never forgot what company you visited, just like it must mean that you never forget what the company you work for’s product is.
Today our visit was with Sandy, who works as a director at Indiegogo. Indiegogo is a launchpad for entrepreneurial ideas.
Sandy started by telling us about her idea, that she started crowdfunding using Indiegogo before she started working there. She made a piano with build-in lights so people could learn to play the piano easier. She got all the funding she needed and her product is now selling all over like Wallmart and other big companies. After she successfully launched her product she decided to come work for Indiegogo to help other people achieve their dream.
She told us little bit about the change in Indiegogo after they launched in 2008 then people were really focused on designs. People used Indiegogo to see if there was a market for the product they wanted to buy, like this one guy who invented bugasalt, a gun witch loaded up with salt and killed bugs when spraying at them. After 2013 people were more focused on hardware and would like to see if there was a designer that could make the products. Today Indiegogo is not only used as a crowdfunding page but also as marketing.
Sandy works with entrepreneurs and helps people develop their product by talking to them and asking them questions they haven’t necessarily focused on. She helps people to make a business plan and finding the right partners, producers, retailers and agent if they need that. She also focuses on how people can improve their pitch, how they get more fundings.
Sandy told us that Indiegogo is different from other because they work with the entrepreneurs and constantly try to help them get better at what they do, so they don’t just stop working with them after their campaign has launched.
She also had a great presentation about how to pitch our idea and how we could improve ourselves. The most important thing is to plan your campaign, despite how long it should run. You should think about many different thing before you are ready to launch like if you could make a working prototype, marketing assets, payment setup, manufacturing plan, how do you see your product being used – show people how to use it. You also have to know how much your product will cost, because you can’t change the price because you forgot to think about the shipping cost or something else. You also have to think about what timing of the year is best for your product.
After you have launched your business idea you have to keep in mind to find partners that can help you with your marketing, having a functional budget, create marketing material for the press.
Sandy also told us about how to make the best crowdfunding video. For starters you have to think about the value of your project and in the first 5-10 seconds people should hear about your idea. You should keep the video as short as possible. Show how you and your team have been developing your idea and show how it works in real life. Always tell people that you are serious about your idea and that you are going to go through with it.
Before you are planning on launching your video you should build awareness around it, so called soft launch. Bi that Sandy told us to talk to our friends and family members, collect emails and tell everyone when you are going to launch the video. Sending emails is the most effective and cheapest marketing solution. You should also be available in more that one place online so people can reach out to you and follow up on the process. You should also encourage people to look at your video and try to give something back like a price or something, and for the early birds you could give 20%discount for supporting you. Most importantly remember to keep things simple.
You also have to be aware of witch niche market you are speaking to, and make the video peeling to them. Let the pictures in your crowdfunding video speak for themselves, have smiling people in it and have something to tease the audience.
All in all this was a very nice visit, and we did for sure learn that there are so many things to think about before you are ready to put yourself out there.
Today Clover was on the list of visits. After Indiegogo we were picked up by a bus that took us to Silicon Valley and dropped us on the parking lot of Clover. The Clover office was big and also kind of fancy, though not the fanciest we had been at. We were greeted by a man called Nic and a woman called Wako. They started out by telling a bit about what Clover does, which is a payment solution for businesses. They both provide the software and the hardware, a touchscreen with a card swiper, a receipt-printer and a mobile device, also with a card swiper and could function with the contactless-function of the new credit cards.
The presentation Wako and Nic gave us was a lot about the design of hardware. He talked a lot about how they spend nine months developing the first touchschreen, and how they used particularly long time on developing the swipe-function, so that the person behind the counter could quickly swipe the touchscreen to the customer for signing or reviewing their order. For the process they had brought in engineers and made about 65 prototypes. It was really interesting to hear about the process and what things they had thought about when making the product. They wanted it to be beautiful, like an Apple-product, so they made it white, which everyone told them was a bad idea - ketchup, beer and all kinds of food would stain it and it would become dirty-looking, so they came up with materials that doesn’t easily stain and is really easy to clean. With the mobile device, they thought about how people would drop it, because that happens, so made it stable enough to cope with falls from hip-height - of course they don’t want people to drop it all the time, because the product can still only take so much, but they worked with the reality in the waiting-business, where people just sometimes drop things.
It was also cool to hear about what they thought of the future. They were definitely aware that they had a lot of competition, which was why they teamed up with a lot of the banks, to make the banks recommend a Clover-product to their business customers. By teaming up with the banks, Clover also made it easier setting up the account and stuff like that.
All the software in Clover updates real-time and everything is uploaded into a cloud, so if there is a fire or the product just breakes, the business have not lost a whole lot of information. You can check the information uploaded to the cloud, on a website or via an app on your smartphone. They actually told a cute story about a woman owning a cafe, who hadn’t been on holiday for eight years, but after using Clover, she could sit on a beach in France and keep up to date with the business real-time from her smartphone.
Today we went to Lyft as the first thing. It was located at the Mission Bay, with a beautiful view over the water and a nice little terrace-ish thing on the sunny side of the building, down by the harbor. We were greeted by Nicole that led us up to one of their offices. Here they held a presentation about how the company started. Even though Uber is definitely the bigger one of the two of those companies, Lyft actually started two years before Uber did. The idea for Lyft came from a journey that the founder had in Zimbabwe, where it was normal to carpool for work or for other occasions. He brought the idea back to the States and founded a company that was for long distance carpooling. The company didn’t really take off though, so in 2007 he founded Lyft, where drivers could sign up and sell a ride to people who needed one.
They talked a lot about the company’s history, how it all started, etc. They haven’t had the same aggressive method as Uber have, expanding rapidly and all that, but they have taken it slower, making sure everything was working. And now they also say that Uber has taken a lot of the ‘fights’ in the different countries that they want to expand to in the future, since they are only in america right now. So Uber has kind of made the way for Lyft to follow with a lot more ease than them. It was also interesting to see that even though they have the exact same business model, their value proposition is still a bit different. Lyft definitely tries to be the funnier and the friendlier one, making fun of Uber for being the big bad guy. It also seems like they try to be more local, which is why they haven’t expanded that much yet.
What was really interesting was to hear what they thought the future for services like theirs would look like. Here they answered that they and much others were already experimenting with autonomous cars, which is really exciting.
Innovation Centre Denmark
After Lyft we were picked up by the same bus as earlier and drived to Silicon Valley once again. Here we first visited Innovation Centre Denmark, where they held a short presentation about who they are and what they do. After that we all had to pitch our business ideas that we have been working on back home. Then they gave feedback and in the end they chose a winner. They gave really good feedback to all of us, which we think that everybody found useful!
It was interesting to hear how they work at the Innovation Centre and what they have been a part of - for example how a guy from the office have used the last four years convincing Apple to get a big office in Viborg. It also sounded like they had a cool accelerator program, where we will probably see some big companies expand from.
Nordic Innovation House
At Nordic Innovation House, their purpose is quite the same as Innovation Centre Denmark. They too have an accelerator-program and helps businesses from the nordic countries to gain a foothold in Silicon Valley. The presentation was made by Gro Dyrnes, who works at the innovation house. She talked a lot about the differences in the startup cultures in the different countries, which was really interesting. It was nice that this visit was so late on the trip, because we think that everybody has kind of noticed what she pointed out - so it was nice to get it all confirmed and elaborated.
She started out by presenting why it was even called Silicon Valley, which we don’t really think anyone had thought about before - I, Emma, for example just thought that it was the name of the valley, like Napa Valley (maybe that is also a name that comes after the wine business? I don’t know) - so it was really fun to hear about how the microchip production really got expanded there, because they used silicon in the chips.
Then she talked about how the Silicon Valley culture fuels innovation, where she had six bulletpoints: disruption, growth and ambition, pay it forward mentality, learning from failure, collaboration and a wish to make the world a better place. This is all points that we have seen in the different company visits that we have done so far. Especially the pay it forward mentality and learning from failure is unique to this place, we think. It is really different from Denmark, where, if you have been involved in a startup that have failed, you don’t really talk about it, but here it is only an advantage if you have startup-experience. Also, the fact that so many companies, big companies, have taken their time to make a presentation for us and to show us how they work, is a great picture of the pay it forward-mentality.
It is also extremely different from Denmark what the expectations for a new company is. For example how the biggest and most popular accelerator program in Silicon Valley expects an 8% growth rate, per week, if a company enters the program. That is considered a huge, almost impossible growth rate in Denmark.
The really nice thing about this presentation was definitely to have someone who really knows the environment over here to put some words on the thoughts that we have had for the last couple of weeks.
Today it is a national holiday, so most of the city is closed down. The sun was shining though, so we all enjoyed the nice weather before we had to go to Netlify in the Dogpatch area. There we met a danish guy called Christian, who is the founder of Netlify. Netlify is a service where you can make websites - not as one who don’t know anything about websites, the site is for developers and coders - in a more secure and smart way than a lot of other services.
Christian talked a lot about how it is to start a business in USA and what challenges there are. Christian told us that his company is a open source community. And to be honest he talked a lot about software and in a very technical way, that is not so easy for us E-designers to understand. But The location of the office was a very raw, small and cozy spaze, perfect for startups. In the building there were many startups and the neighbourhood was filled with nice breweries. But as we told you before it was a national holiday so forgivably Christian got a little bit late, but he sure made up for it by serving us cold beer! Heads up for Christian!
He also talked about that the Visa in USA had recently changed and it could be easier to get Visa today after the new law that only took place two days before our meeting. He also told us to be careful with lawyer you work with and what kind of investors. Christian said that it is important to work beside people that understand you, because if they don't you will never succeed with them.
And the most important lesson we learn from Christian today was to think about if it really worth it having your business in a country that is so far away from your family, also because there is such a huge difference time wise. He recommended us to take at least 1-2 hours a week to think about if what you are doing is worth the sacrifice, and so far his answer has always been yes.
At this wonderful sunny morning we vent to a visit at a TwentyThree which is a SaaS company focused on making great tools for visual sharing on the web. TwentyThree is located in San Francisco & Copenhagen, with over a million videos on their platform, 1 billion plays, and offices. It is a bootstrapped startup with organic-growth, no external funding. Their platform is already used by 300 brands, startups and businesses globally.
We were greeted by Sarah, a danish woman that has been working for TwentyThree the last three years, Sarah does everything from paying the bills, scheduling meetings, researching how the customers behave and talking to their clients and trying to make their platform more easy to use.
The company wants to build the best video marketing platform for their customers. They think that companies should use more video in their marketing, and allow the customers to see what they are doing, because a video says more than 1000 words, and there is nothing better than seeing this come alive.
Sarah told us a little bit how the company works, and that they want to help their customers to look more professional, she said that the most annoying things she sees on a beautiful website, are YouTube videos in poor quality on their website. She also said that people in San Francisco are very busy, and if you want to get in contact just write email to the person you want to speak to and explain what you want to talk about instead of asking like a typical danish person for a cup of coffee.
The fun part today was hearing the story behind the name TwentyThree, it is about photo sharing visual effects, and the fact is if you put TwentyThree people together in the same room the changes are 50% that someone in that room has the same birthday. It is for sure a little bit odd, but we agreed on that it was a fun way to get people to remember the name of TwentyThree.
After Twentythree we went to visit Adobe - also really cool! We were really excited about this, since Adobe is a huge company, that has existed for a lot of years and that a lot of people know about. Also the fact that they are the only company with a broad selection of applications that are so renowned and used everywhere, by regular people and by the big pros.
We were met by a man named Sasha and his colleague Ben. Sasha worked on the Spark-team, which is a team working on the Spark-product. Spark is a product that allows normal people, like small business owners, bloggers, students, etc., to make beautiful pictures for their website, Facebook-page or Instagram, or to make a website or a video. It is made to make it easy for people without a graphic design background to make stuff that looks like a graphic designer made it.
The product is really cool and it was interesting to hear about why and how they made it. When they presented it at an Adobe-fair, whey had their fears that graphic designer would be mad and think that this product would put them out of their jobs, but luckily they weren’t and Adobe actually thought that it could make life easier for graphic designers, since they could know make the companies themselves make some of the work.
It was also very interesting to hear how Adobe, for a lot of years, haven’t really been that innovative in the same sense that other companies have. Of course they have been innovative, but they have been so big and have had a monopoly in their field of work for so many years, that it hasn't really been necessary for them to do what everybody else did. Now it seems like they have discovered that they too have to be innovative, and with the Spark-team, they have created a kind of start-up business within a big business. This means that the team has a bit more freedom and not that much bureaucracy. We think that was a clever move from Adobe - things are moving faster than ever, and the saying in Silicon Valley and San Francisco seems to be “Innovate or die”.