Friday, August 8, 2014

Getting the ball rolling. Starting up a tech company in 2014

I'm sitting in an Embassy Suites in Santa Clara, California. I look out my window and across the way see the Biltmore Hotel on the 101. One of my first trips out here had me staying at the Biltmore (Thanks Skypilot!) and I can't help but think about how far I've come.

I had a great talk yesterday about a product we're working on, and when I was going over the next steps, it all really hit me that I'm in fact quite a ways through launching a startup company. Sitting in Silicon Valley, with an idea, a demo, and some interested parties in hand .. launching a product. It's a little surreal and has my mind flipped around a bit.

Walking through this hotel, I wonder how many times the dated walls of this place have seen people like me come and go. What other ideas were born here? How many of em made it? How many failed?
Dinner last night underneath the old McAfee building that now sports a FOR LEASE banner, and lunch today in the parking lot of what used to be the Yahoo! HQ (now EMC2 and Intel/McAfee Secure) had the same feel. It's strange to think about the web's ex-super powers going from nothing to everything to hidden.
In all my trips out here, this one has the "feel" of something different. It's not just visiting a vendor, having a training, attending an event, this one is about what MY future is in this Valley. Hopefully tomorrow goes well and we can take it all a few steps at a time!

On another note the San Jose Mercury News has a great write-up with Jeremy Stoppelman, the CEO of Yelp, talking about the company turning 10 years old. It discusses things like when Google wanted to buy them for $500 million and he said no after chatting with Steve Jobs. Now, he alone holds stock worth $400m and the company is valued at $5 billion. That's billion with a b. :)

One of the most interesting parts of the article in my opinion though is this, when asked about diversity in tech:
If we are focusing on technology jobs, meaning software engineering jobs primarily, by the time you are talking about a company, you are talking about the end of the funnel. The funnel begins in high school, really, or even earlier maybe. If you want women and minorities to succeed all the way at the end of the funnel in a tech job, you have to increase the numbers starting at the top of the funnel, at the earliest age, and then make sure they stay in the funnel and get all the way through.

I'll talk later about the incubator / accelerator that we are working on in McAllen, Texas, but that is why it hit home: filling the funnel. We hope to make that happen in our area pretty soon, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

If I can help some kid from the streets of the Rio Grande Valley find their way to Silicon Valley some day, to sit in this Embassy Suites and feel like a 20 year old in the 1990's, then I'd be glad to do so. I'm gonna go drive around now and stare at buildings .. hell, I might even dumpster dive. :)

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