I’m starting this blog series due to a bunch of reasons. Some good friends pushed me into doing it; as a way to stay in touch with home in Buenos Aires; and to share experiences so that maybe other people considering building a tech company in the Bay Area know what’s coming.
I’ll try to keep most details about the company out, and focus on the personal aspects and my learnings of the startup ecosystem. Many things are surprising about this place, and we’re learning a lot fast. These posts will be (hopefully) short updates on what it’s like to live here as a foreigner building a tech company. All I’ll say about the company for now is that the name is Smart Contract Solutions, and that we’re building bitcoin and blockchain-related technology.
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So, let’s start by explaining why we moved here. Demian, Esteban and I came to the Bay Area in June, and the experience was mind-blowing. It was by far the most intense month of our professional lives. We soon realized the Bay Area is the place to be to build a tech company. That’s why we raised some money (more on how we did this coming in a future post) and decided to jump into this adventure!
The main reason for being here is geographical coincidence. This is a place that attracts the most amazing people! Just in the first month we spent here, I randomly met with three of my personal heroes: Whitfield Diffie, father of modern cryptography; Jonathan Blow, creator of my favorite videogame (Braid); and Victoria Hart, who can combine music and math in the most intriguing ways. Let me repeat that: I randomly stumbled upon these geniuses on cafés, and even exchanged some words with them. I also had the chance to non-randomly meet with many other people I admire a lot, and whose work has shaped my professional life. Not bad, huh?
The other big reason is the amazing social atmosphere. Everyone is open to help you. Even if they don’t know you, they’ll give you at least 30’ of their time. They’ll listen to your ideas, answer your questions, connect you to people you should be meeting, and give you great advice, expecting nothing in return but a coffee and to expand their network. This is the perfect combination to move fast with your project. It feels like being tied to a rocket!
Everything is setup so that we only have to worry about working hard. Raising money gives you freedom to know you’ll have enough to eat and pay rent. One of our investors is so bad-ass that he even lent us an apartment and an office in Palo Alto for a month so that we don’t have to hurry to find a place to live. Another fun fact: all apps work in the Bay Area. Need a taxi? Use Uber. Need to rent a car? Zipcar. Need something from the supermarket? Use Google Express. Need to receive snail mail but don’t have a permanent address? There’s even a virtual post mail address that’ll receive your physical mail and transform it into email! Technology is at its best here, and most apps will give you free trials!
In short, our first week here was amazing! We spent some time settling in our new home, meeting with great people and doing actual work, of course. We even found some time to play a fútbol (soccer) match in the weekend :)
Silicon Valley is a strange place. We feel like we’ve only scratched the surface in understanding how things work here. There are a lot of games to play and many rules for each game. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some of the things we learn during our stay, and you’ll find it interesting enough to read!
I’ll end with a picture of a 100% robot-operated store we found in Downtown Palo Alto, because we found it super cool.
The one with the green shirt is Santi, who hosted us for a month back in June. He’s our Erlich Bachman.
Here’s part 2: