How We Are Building Startup Life.

I might just have the best job in the world. For a year already, running Startup Life has made me run into many amazing people, fresh ideas and cool companies. Two weeks ago, me and Tatu got back from our previous US trip, and I think it would be appropriate to share few war stories here. This sure wasn’t a trip of getting tanned in sunny California.

We had a rough start. We were in New York City, ready to roll. Too bad the flight was delayed by one day due to a blizzard at Heathrow, which caused our first meetings to be re-scheduled. Those first meetings would have been super-important – we were supposed to meet people who we knew were able to help get us introduced to new interesting startups, and therefore give us a head start for our mission to sign up some companies. Unfortunately due to the blizzard we weren’t able to do this so we had to start building things from the bottom up.
First – find the companies. How? Ask friends, read blogs, scroll through Angellist and Crunchbase. Then, get introduced if you know anybody who knows anybody. If not – send a cold email. Sometimes, guess the right address, use generic jobs@… addresses. Brevity, a clear value proposition and assumed availability to meet at anytime works wonders when sending cold emails in fast-paced places like Silicon Valley or New York. When these things are done right, the whole game is just about the volume: the number of emails sent, meetings scheduled and follow-ups done properly.
Needless to say  it all worked out pretty well by the time we got to San Francisco, and we got our hands full of companies to meet. After meeting-packed days the nights are spent fixing schedules for the next day, attending events in order to gain contacts and writing follow-up emails. Take a look:

Our team calendar from the last four days in San Francisco

Meetings usually took 15-20 minutes, sometimes half an hour if grabbing a sandwich, checking out the office or playing air hockey is included. People really know the value of their time, and to waste it – well, it’s something you don’t want to do. Startup Life itself is an easy pitch – the hardest part is usually getting the startups to commit, and to make them think of their needs in the longer term – not just to find that iOS developer they need now as soon as possible.

Our mornings usually started at 6 or 7 AM, so we got to see the sunrise from the terrace of our house in Los Altos. If we were lucky, we also avoided the traffic being in the city for the meetings early enough. The traffic must be the 2nd most time consuming activity in Silicon Valley, after the actual work, of course. And people generally underestimate that.

After the super-intense week, the weekend offered a some relief – lounging on the sunny beach of Santa Cruz gave a welcome reminder that this place is more than just congested freeways, garage offices and $4 lattes at Starbucks (just for to get the free Wi-Fi). And what comes to coffee, drink Philz. It really is so good.
3 lessons learned

  • Follow up fast. Immediately, or on the same night at the latest.
  • Be active. Visit events, talk to people. Get started with Startup Digest, Plancast and
  • Ask for help. People are astonishingly happy to do introductions and help you forward if they believe in what you’re doing
Author of this post