Standing before a select audience of companies, entrepreneurs and investors in the world-renowned mecca of the new technologies and innovation to place value on the work of an entire team in a pitch of just over 2 minutes. Seeing first hand how a project is evaluated by the renowned Japanese investor Hiroshi Wald. Soaking up the “design thinking” methodology for creating products and services, with the participation of the users guided by of one of its gurus, Jonathan Littman. Or visiting Google while one of its executives with Spanish ancestry explains the three upcoming technological revolutions and their impact on society, to reaffirm Cuatroochenta´s area of work: artificial intelligence, the internet of things and virtual and augmented reality. And all this with the victory of Donald Trump as a setting. The testimony of Lucía García Vidal, of Cuatroochenta´s business development team, during her participation in the Silicon Valley Immersion Programme of the Spain Tech Center (STC) from 7 to 18 November, leaves no doubt as to the great value and the intensity of the lived experience.
Cuatroochenta´s Brand Games Studio, the new gaming and virtual and augmented reality immersive experience department, for which we have been chosen to travel to San Francisco along with 12 other companies, has achieved gaining a strong foothold in the demanding US market with the objective to try to establish ourselves. Because this has been on of the main acknowledgements of the trip: the immensity and very high competitiveness of the Californian technological ecosystem. And, at the same time, the genuine possibility of getting opportunities when you have good ideas and know how to defend these. Finally, another key aspect that stands out in Lucía García´s journal from Silicon Valley, published during the last two weeks in the social networks (#diario480siliconvalley) and which we gather in this post, is the excellent time spent together with the other participating companies´ executives (beBee, Blueliv, ec2ce, Electronic IDentification, Estudiofuture, Libnova, MyVitale, Nautic Advisor, Net IP, SpiralAI and Wide Eyes Technologies) and the staff of the Spain Tech Center.
Days 1 and 2. On Sunday night we land at San Francisco. We share a house with two other companies that participate in the ICEX programme. We actually start to work on Monday. In the midst of the big political earthquake that engulfs the US, we have managed to muster sufficient calm to start preparing the first big meeting, next Wednesday´s Pitch Night at the K&L Gates LLP. We start preparing it with the expert Nathan Gold, “The Demo Coach”, considered a true guru in the field, and the truth is that it has been very interesting and productive: he has given us clear guidelines and very valuable advice to make our presentation appeal to potential partners and investors. We have also had talks about funding and other less momentous issues like the intellectual property and immigration laws in the US. The two first working days have taken place at the Spain Tech Center headquarters within the RocketSpace co-working space, where flagship projects like Spotify or Uber saw the light. It is a workspace, true enough, but it undoubtedly has a special atmosphere. Although really special was the fleeting visit we made to the city´s most typical sites: San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alcatraz prison, Chinatown, the steep streets… These kinds of sites, no matter how much you anticipate them because you have seen them in so many films and series, never cease to surprise you. And we even had the time to visit a gaming machines show, which surely would have delighted the development team at Cuatroochenta, and to enjoy live music. We go to bed, exhausted after an intense day, and, no use denying it, startled by the result of the election. The Americans we spoke to showed conflicting emotions about Trump´s victory: we have mostly noted sadness and disappointment (here in California Hillary Clinton won by a landslide) but, at the same time, they admit they saw this coming. Tomorrow the world will keep on turning and the sun will rise again. Let us hope so.
Day 3. After long preparations, finally the moment to perform the “pitch” about Cuatroochenta´s Brand Games Studio has arrived, the new service we are offering for brands to better connect with their audience through immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences. It flew by! And I am satisfied because the proposal has been very well received by the entrepreneurs, companies and investors who were present; the proof is that in the subsequent networking I managed to arrange two very interesting meetings. It has been a rather tense day due to the pressure of exhibiting the efforts of all the Cuatroochenta team as best as possible at the central event organized by the Spain Tech Center in the framework of the Silicon Valley immersion programme. One of the most rewarding aspects of the programme is being together with the other chosen companies, especially with the representatives of Net IP and Wide Eyes, with whom we share a house. The views of San Francisco today, have been through the window…
Day 4. Today has been the most productive day since we arrived at San Francisco. A full schedule with very good sessions about funding and how to contact and convince investors. The first one has been about credit lines, headed by Vicenzo Mitolo in the Grove Room, a very cool co-working space, and the rest took place at the Spain Tech Center headquarters in the RocketSpace, our base of operations in Silicon Valley. The talk by Sebastian Strofer, a German who heads the corporate development of Gree Games, one of the leading local companies in gaming, explaining his experience in the US, was very instructive: some ideas can be applied to Cuatroochenta´s Brand Games Studio. Finally, the best session up to now, is that of the Japanese investor Hiroshi Wald, a real ace on a professional and personal level. We continue to take notice.
Days 5-7. Friday started with a talk by Pablo Pantaleoni from Barcelona, who explained his experience on internationalisation in San Francisco to us, where he has settled himself with his project Medtep, an innovative platform of medical management; and another one about customer acquisition and retention by Frederic Hanika, an expert in mentoring based on big data with The Hive, a cutting-edge company from Palo Alto with branches in India and Brazil. It regarded two very productive preparatory sessions with a view to visiting companies and the meetings we plan to have in Silicon Valley this week. And this time we did manage! On the weekend we had the opportunity to do some tourism with the colleagues of the other selected companies in the immersion programme: on Saturday a bike trip crossing the Golden Gate up to Sausalito and on Sunday we hired a car for a trip to the south of California, Santa Cruz, Carmel… And what´s more, we had a spectacularly good time.
Days 8-10. If only to get to know people like Jonathan Littman first hand it would have been worth the wile to travel to San Francisco. An innovation guru who has worked for the best brands, who started as a journalist (he wrote for Forbes and the Los Angeles Times), has published several successful books and has been awarded many prizes. But, above all, the kind of person who expresses himself clearly and who has given a very dynamic session about “design thinking”, a methodology of creating products and services to satisfy the needs of the users, involving them actively in the creation process. Moreover, the session took place between the Embarcadero, in a very cool building with shops and restaurants, and the offices on Clay Street, ultimately, a very fruitful day, during which we have seen how to apply brilliant ideas to real life cases. The beginning of the week (Monday and Tuesday) was centred on the most technical aspects, with sessions at the Spain Tech Center headquarters in the RocketSpace, about how to start a business in the US, taking into account elements starting from human resources to marketing, going over the most commercial aspects, with several international experts and entrepreneurs. Next stop: Silicon Valley. How I have been looking forward to this!
Days 11-12. Visiting the big companies of Silicon Valley was amazing. One comes to realise the magnitude the tech companies have attained on all levels and to understand exactly why it is considered the world mecca. Especially because of the vibrancy, because you see they are rethinking and innovating ceaselessly in order to be ahead of the future. At Google, after getting used to the “theme park” effect which inadvertently engulfs each member of the expedition upon arrival, one of its executives with Spanish ancestry explains the three upcoming technological revolutions and their impact on society, which reinforces our belief in Cuatroochenta´s area of work: artificial intelligence, the internet of things and virtual and augmented reality. We also visited Nutanix, a company which is the latest hype in the world of virtual data centres and hyperconvergence, which has just gone public and where we were hosted by one of their marketing executives, the Catalan Joan Morales. We have met many Spaniards in management positions around here and, to be honest, it is an encouraging thing. This is coming to an end… but we still have a few important meetings we were able to arrange before going back.
Day 13. Final party with the representatives of the expedition´s participating companies (beBee, Blueliv, ec2ce, Electronic IDentification, Estudiofuture, Libnova, MyVitale, Nautic Advisor, Net IP, SpiralAI and Wide Eyes Technologies) and of the Spain Tech Center, with whom we have enjoyed this fantastic two week experience in San Francisco. After resting a bit from the long journey, now it is time to process lots of information and ideas.