This spring just gone, clogs became all the buzz in the fashion world, that will become relevant later.
I have just moved to San Francisco, the self proclaimed and self-evident IT capital of the world.
Coming from Australia it is hard to overstate the difference in activity, talent, progress and sheer scale that I have found here in 3 very short weeks and I feel I am just scratching the surface,.. but the surface of what?
As a bit of background I have walked a fairly typical, if not cliche IT path over the last 10 years
Drop out of university – check
Start IT company with friend, raise VC, get patents – check, check check
Survive tech crash, change direction, come out the other side realising that traction and business models count for everything and good technology is table stakes
So, today I find myself in a cafe (any cafe, right?) in downtown San Francisco … 80% of the people here are on laptops.. which you can safely leave unattended in clear sight for 10 mins while taking a wash room pitstop
Welcome to the bubble. Immersion doesn’t convey enough the feeling, drowning would be theatrics.
So, as usual, the context provides for the question. How is one to develop technology, traction and a business model for the real world? Does that even matter?
My observation thus far is that, not dissimilar to the fashion vertical, what is in the winter collection in new york this year will be on the shelves in the real world next winter or perhaps the year after. Is technology fashionable? absolutely. Consumer technology is based on fashion, form and function as much as the next iPhone.
It’s almost like the bay area itself is a testing ground for what exists here today will be be the norm everywhere else tomorrow, following the trendy logic.
I watched an interesting talk (webinar) last night (http://venturehacks.com/articles/before-raise) by Naval Ravikant where he talked about the power shift from VC to entrepreneur as the barriers & cost to go from idea to solution were becoming negligible. Subsequently and importantly the focus from investors (angel, superangel and beyond) were specifically to see Traction and Social Proof. Traction, seeing people using the solution .. and Social Proof, have other people shared your vision and backed it, usually with cash.
From where I’m standing, understanding how to think beyond the bubble has never been so important to ensure the global success of your start up, or your investment in one.
In Australia, we suffer from ‘tall poppy syndrome’ where we cut down the over achievers… most end up coming to places like Silicon Valley to spread their wings, myself case in point. Here we can be around like minded, forward thinking and motivated talent. The amount of learning and the pace of progress that can be achieved in a place like this can not be ignored.. but ignore what the rest of the world thinks at your peril.
Surely if you can create technology that gets traction & social proof outside the bubble as well as inside .. then you really have something of value.
Clogs may have ‘come into fashion’ in spring 2010, but the europeans have loved them for years.