Consumer Internet & Mobile BBL What you need to know to get started in Silicon Valley Maisy Samuelson / @msamuelson / msamuelson@gmail
Topics• Why Silicon Valley?• Big company v. small startup v. starting your own• Getting a job in Silicon Valley• Classes to take• Staying up to date• Further learning
Why Silicon Valley?• Pros • Cons • Leveraged • High Risk/Reward (Gambling) • Meritocratic (no set career path) • Few obviously exciting companies • Growth industry “Software is eating • Less the world” structure/more chaotic • Work w/ interesting people • Limited location choices (SF, NYC, • Flexible lifestyle Austin, Boston, (not client services) SEA)
Established Co v. StartupBigger companies: good way to start, learn bestpractices, established brand, meet people, little riskSmaller startup: More growth opt/upside (if startupdoes well), fun work environmentDon’t work at a startup for the sake of doing a startup!What matters: 1) smart people, 2) good product 3) goodbrandDon’t assume that smaller company means greaterimpactDon’t get to caught up w/sector
Getting A Job• Approach companies with specific ways that you can help solve a problem they have (i.e. wireframes for how you would improve a specific part of the site). SV companies value doers more than talkers.• “Check your MBA at the door.” An MBA is not necessarily a positive in SV.• Participate in Quora/Twitter• Leverage LinkedIn (find interesting companies. Reach out to people/companies that interest you)• Follow companies you’re interested in on Twitter• Look at VC/angel websites for list of portfolio companies• Make a portfolio/website/blog• If the company not too big (e.g. <100 people) take any job and transfer internally. Don’t worry too much about seniority of original role--there’s room to grow and move!• Network early, but realize that startup opportunities come very late in recruiting season (often May/June)
Getting A Product Job• PMs are risky hires for companies because they control very expensive engineering resources and make decisions that can make or break a business/product. To mitigate risk, companies look for people who already have PM experience and a technical background. If you don’t have both, you need to be strategic:• Write a sample spec for the company and make wireframes using Balsamiq Here’s a spec template.• Exhibit these traits ... Intelligence (“you can’t fix stupid”), product sense, ability to lead engineers without direct authority. Check out Ken Norton’s famous blog post on how to hire PMs• Get hired for an easier role and do an internal transfer (only realistic if company <100 people)• Take the CS classes on the later slide and build something• Get a summer job at Amazon/Microsoft. It’s useful to have the words “Product Manager” at <Company people have heard of> on your resume
Classes To Take• If you work at an internet/mobile company, it’s invaluable to understand how to build websites/mobile apps. These four classes get you 95% of the way there. They’re a lot more work than GSB classes, but grades don’t matter and they’re totally worth it. • CS106a: Programming methodology in Java (take this in the spring of year 1, so you can take CS142 in the fall). • CS142: Webs Applications (Only offered in the Fall and need to take CS106a first. This is the best class at Stanford). • CS193P: Developing Aps for iOS • CS106B: Programming abstractions in C++ • Learn SQL, html and CSS on your own (lots of good web tutorials)• Check out iTunes U, Coursera
Staying up To Date• Fred Wilson • Quora (@fredwilson) • TechCrunch• Brad Feld (@bfeld) • PandoDaily• Chris Dixon (@cdixon) • Techmeme• Paul Graham (@paulg) • Angel List• Aaron Levie (@levie) • Crunchbase Weekly• Bill Gurley (@bgurley) Newsletter (fundraising & acquisitions) • HackerNews
Themes/Companies To Research• Collaborative Consumption • Sidecar, Lyft/Zimride , Zaarly, TaskRabbit, AirBnB• Consumerization of the enterprise • Asana, Box, Zendesk• Payments • Stripe, Square, CardSpring, Google Wallet• Content discovery • Pinterest, Spotify, Quora, Pulse, Prismatic• E-Commerce • Fab, TheFancy, Etsy, One King’s Lane, Nasty Gal, Warby Parker, Quirky,• SoLoMo • Highlight (et al.), Nextdoor• Ed Tech • Edmodo, Coursera• Phone as remote control • Uber, Exec, eBay Now• Big Data • Cloudera, Palantir• The Internet of Things • Nest, Lockitron
Topics to Research• SEO (app store and web)• SEM (spend $20 to experiment buying google adwords and FB Ads)• Analyze Business Models: How does X make money?• Technology buzzwords (HTML5, JQuery, NoSQL, Bootstrap)• Mobile • iOS and Android platforms and apps. What does each platform allow developers to do? Characteristics of top performing apps? App stores? Download a bunch of apps and observe design/mechanics.• Trends • Alexa, Comscore, Compete (monthly page views, uniques visitors, time on site etc) • AppAnnie (iOS and Google Apps) • AppData (Facebook apps)
More Reading …• Quora (Ian McAllister)• All of Paul Graham’s essays• David Weekly’s intro to stock options• Blake Master’s notes on Peter Thiel’s startup class• HBS Platforms and Networks materialsDesign• A list apart• Dribbble• Principles of User Interface Design
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