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Silicon Valley 2016 Blog Series

Teams from the Class of 2017 are writing about their experiences in Silicon Valley as a part of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Business Consulting Trip in a series of blogs. You are currently reading the fifth blog in the series. You can read their additional blogs by clicking on the buttons below.

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Blog 5: Surviving in an Innovative Playground

Written by Team Canopus- Amanda Bernier, Scott Johnston, Matt Lundie, Kimberley Marr, Ryan Peatt, Sukri Sharbini

It is the sixth day our our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Trip to Silicon Valley.

After a restful evening the cohort was back on the road for more exciting visits, group bonding and networking. This time we were off to TechShop and 500 Startups.

TechShop Gift presentation The cohort was welcomed at Techshop by the energetic Sales Director, Andrew Clavo. Andrew gave a rundown on the company’s history, its services and the success stories of those who have walked through the doors of the company. The company provides a playground for creative minds where entrepreneurs have access to over $1 million worth of professional tools and software.

Having people of different backgrounds, from material engineers to software developers, under one roof was also supportive to creating an innovative community. Discussions and feedbacks among them improve functionality and designs of prototypes. We were provided with visibility to many creative products, from innovative household gadgets to more sophisticated things like electrical motorcycles and origami kayaks.

Believing that more creative minds should have access to these services, the company set up their workshop in various cities across the United States; and is soon turning global with their ventures in France, UAE, Malaysia and Singapore.

The co-founders predict that this could be the start of a new kind way of how we buy things. Consumer products will become more personalized, original and unique to individuals.

At 500 Startups, we met with one of the partners, Marvin Liao who is originally from Vancouver. Of all the meetings, this was probably the most dynamic, explosive and highly interactive session. There were insightful views on what to expect in the Valley. He started off with a brief background of himself and the company. After that it was nonstop Q&A with the cohort. What intrigued the team was his delivery style – his responses were concise, precise and extremely frank. A good professional quality, thanks to his years of working experience in the Valley. 

He shared his insights that startups are always in survival mode, and there is constant need to continuously learn, innovate and grow as fast as possible. Because slow innovators will sooner or later ‘die’, like many of those startups who failed to adopt the Valley culture.

500 Startups presentation

Marvin advised that finding the right balance in startup teams is very important. They have better chance of surviving, at least one person who is strong with technology and the other in business. This team configuration will ensure that startup covers its grounds as it moves ahead.  

A final point Marvin shared with the cohort, understand yourself, follow your passion and do what you love, money will somehow sort itself from your endless pursuit of perfection. That said, this appears to be true in the Valley, Marvin is living proof – having been in the Valley for over 17 years, he’s achieved success doing what he loves, and has done very well.

In the evening, the cohort enjoyed dinner at a bay view restaurant called Slanted Door. The cohort entertained their clients and mingled throughout the night. It was definitely a great way to end the memorable trip to San Francisco. As I write this entry at this late hour, many of the classmates are still out enjoying the last moments in this wonderful city spending time with each other.  

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