After a gracious introduction to the BBC by Mr Amit Gupta, I appeared in a short BBC News segment about the Silicon Valley startup scene as compared to the NYC startup community. Click the screenshot below to watch the video!
While it's only a 3 minute segment with half that with me, there were quite a few things I mentioned on tape that did not get included. Definitely a more pleasant experience than my Nike commercial where a film crew of 16 people taped for 14 hours to create a 30 second ad, but I digress. I'd like to expand on my thoughts a bit here.
First off, I'm am super happy with the video (aside from my ever-present fast talking) and it was just in time for Picplum as Akshay and I begin switching gears from coding, coding, coding to focusing more effort on PR and marketing. I had to flip on a few more instances on Heroku in the morning when it was also mentioned on Huffington Post.
Silicon Valley is not SFSome folks on Hacker News were clamoring about how the video appeared to use Silicon Valley and SF interchangeably. While I often said and referred to the "Bay Area" as a whole in the taping, as far as I'm concerned they are pretty much the same. There are tons of startups in SV and SF. That's all that really matters to me. Lots of startups that begin in SV move up to the city to attract young engineers that are lured by the SF lifestyle. And startups like AeroFS love it in SV (my assumption) as they tend to hire folks, such as senior systems engineers, that happen to be older, have families and want to raise them in SV. Both ways work well. And of course there's the Berkeley startup scene as well.
Chance Encounters & Paying It ForwardCall this the "echo chamber" if you want, but everyone in my vicinity in SF works on their own startup or for a startup. I can't walk to get lunch without running into founders. This is a good thing. It's these chance encounters (that Paul Graham so raves about) with people that are in a position to help you out in some way and want to help you that make this a great startup environment.
In the video I mentioned a few people that unfortunately did not get edited in: Hiten Shah, Dan Martell and Noah Kagan (though Noah has since moved to Austin he was instrumental in helping me get on my feet when I moved here).
These folks — and many others like them in SV — are the essence of the startup scene in my opinion. I can't run into them for 15 seconds without them asking "How can I help? What's the hardest thing for you now?" And it's not like they're paying me back for something, they are driven to help fellow entrepreneurs. I'm sure you can find some facet of that in New York, but not as much. Technology is just a tiny part of NYC's vibrant fashion, finance, advertising and PR industries.
When I was growing up I always heard the phrase "surround yourself with people smarter than you," a variation of an early David Ogilvy quote. Well that's what I'm doing in the Bay Area.
Soft LandingsOf course there's a plethora of funds investing in startups of all sorts, so I won't spend any time on that. But the thing that doesn't get mentioned much is the number of talent acquisition offers that get made. It happens a lot more than you hear about on TechCrunch. This is a byproduct of the surplus of founders, where startups are in a hiring crunch. It's almost too easy for talented individuals to start their own company and raise some capital to get started. Sean Parker has gone on record recently saying that small startups are ridiculously overfunded.
What does that mean? If you're talented and your startup isn't working out, or even if it is too early too tell, chances you will receive an email or call from another founder asking if you'd be open to a talent acquisition. These have come up for me a few times in the past and it almost seems like it's the norm in the Bay Area. In New York? Not so much (completely blind assumption added for effect, please dispute in the comments!).
Akshay and I in the office
Bias much?I might seem like I'm being a bit overly pro-Bay Area and boasty in this post. I realize there are other places to run startups, but I love it here and wouldn't have it any other way. Come and visit for a few days, tour a few startups.. hopefully you'll be able to grok what I'm trying to portray.
I can see myself living in NYC at least for a year just to check it out (and find a Greek wife in Astoria) but as long as I'm doing a startup, I'll be in the Bay Area. Anyways, I felt like I need to write at least some sort of brain dump on my blog so you guys don't think I've abandoned it! Just been working a bunch. I have one other large post coming when I can get a chance to write again. It's about a startup idea that I'm not going to pursue but that someone definitely needs to build.