So, the focus of this presentation is fighting and thriving in the Valley. How can a UK business prosper and set up shop in a Valley? In this presentation, I’m going to give you some tips on how to navigate the land where the cash flows like wine, where you can’t sit on the train without bumping into a highly regarded angel investor and where khaki is an acceptable form of evening attire
Last time I spoke at FOWA I was given the title ‘surviving outside of Silicon Valley’ and discussed, not just surviving, but prospering outside of the Valley. In London, and more widely Europe, start-ups certainly can prosper. We have access to a thriving technology community, brilliant talent to build our teams, access to customers and access to money. In short, we have everything we need to build an incredible business right on our doorstep.
We have access to a thriving technology community, brilliant talent to build our teams, access to customers and access to money. In short, we have everything we need to build an incredible business right on our doorstep.
However, at Huddle, we’ve always had the mantra ‘go big or go home’. We’ve always believed that European start-ups can make it on the global stage and there is no need to stay in London/Paris/Berlin/Amsterdam just to prove that Europe can have its technology champions too
Thinking big, we recently announced that we were taking our great British company global and taking the fight to the Valley. With $10.2 million of Series B funding, we’ve opened our US offices in San Francisco and we’re rapidly expanding our team.This won’t be applicable to every business – we’ll come back to this
Talk about my many trips to SF, richardmoross in 2008, 3 month visa for ‘meetings’Type of startup – fashion, music etc
By the time I finally moved out here I’d been visiting the West Coast five or six times a year for the last couple of years. I’d stayed out for several weeks at a time and really tried to immerse myself in the Bay Area’s start-up culture, get to know people and familiarise myself with the geography – work out which kind of companies live where, how to best go about getting between them and (important) areas to avoid. And, of course, have a chuckle every time someone mentions the area called the ‘Tendernob’ (the area between Nob Hill and the Tenderloin, fact fans). Hilarious.
Follow angels, vc, companies you admire
Silicon valley is the Mecca for tech – Google, HP, Apple, Oracle, SiebelMultibillion dollar exits and IPOsAngelgate @ Bin 38Esther Dyson caltrain story
San Francisco is a big(ish) city and affords everything that a big(ish) city provides – great bars and restaurants, parks, culture, architecture, homelessness and crime
Mountain View and Palo Alto are the heart of Silicon Valley proper and home to companies like Oracle, Facebook, Apple and HP. However, if you’re looking at moving a several-thousand person company out here they’re probably the only way to go.I feel they lack soul, non-generic shops and decent places for the all-important post-work pint.
The buzz of the city is palpable (especially compared to identikit business parks found further south) and the city’s SOMA district – with its vast warehouses and loft apartments – is home to hundreds of start-ups, creative companies and social media consultants. Throw a stone from anywhere in the district and you’ll hit at least one person creating “x for twitter”. There are also great spaces available downtown, around South Beach and in the Mission district. Access to caltrain.
Anyone who has worked at home for any length of time from home... (sauna story)Uservoice form Scott and Rich’s apartment
Dogpatch labs – “ a frathouse for geeks” – pier 38
Kicklabs – office space and mentoring for early stage companies. South Beach.
Citizon space – co-working: the best elements of a coffee shop and a workspace
Regus – where we are – same building as twitter. V hot area.
SOMA central – startup friendly space next to the ball park in SOMA. Basically – there’s a TON of great spaces for you to set up and work in the city and be surrounded by other startups.
If you want to trade or hire in the US you’re going to need a US entity. The vast, vast majority of US companies incorporate in Delaware (regardless of where they are actually based) thanks to the state’s generous tax benefits and well-defined body of case law. Once you have your Delaware Corp you’ll need to get it ready to trade in the State of California. It’s probably best to get a lawyer to help with all of this as the paperwork will make your eyes bleed.There are pros and cons of cost for equity- like lower upfront cost to you, but then locked into the lawyer and also potentially gave away valuable equity.
Both have Offices in SF that you can use for meetings, interviews, pretending you’re bigger than you actually are
Unlike the US, setting up a bank account in the US is actually quite simple.They aren't the best bank, but for the simple remote stuff it was good. HSBC might also be a good option.
Talk about coming and going, Ben Way,
H1-b is one yearL1-A is up to 7 years, can be extended in countryO-1 is for people like scottrutherfordThere are several options for your visa but (in our opinion) the best in terms of the time-to-apply / time-you’ll-be-allowed-to-stay ratio is the L-1 intercompany transfer visa.
Regardless who you use, don’t be put off by an initial consultation fee. This is standard and will help the attorney work out which visa is exactly right for you.If you can’t afford the attorney’s fees you probably shouldn’t be looking at expansion anyway.
Expect to wait at least a month and a half from when you first submit to your interview at the US embassy (unless you pay $1,500 for some kind of Easyjet-style speedy boarding pass, in which case you’re looking at 15 working days) and bear in mind you have to be outside the US to apply and receive your visa. Entering the US during your visa application is technically allowed but frowned upon so if you are travelling make sure you have proof that you’ll be leaving the country again shortly, a copy of your application and something proving that you are indeed employed by a non-US company and are just visiting for meetings. Not to work. Oh no.
Social security = credit = mobile phone on contract etc
Unless you’re hiring engineers in SF, in which case you’re screwed.
People in the US - especially the Valley - are a lot more savvy when it comes to their equity options. In Europe, people tend to work for cash compensation and are happy with that. There is a lot more flexibility in terms of what you offer employees here, but they also know their market value. Typically you will have to have a more generous option pool in the US. Bonuses, probably not expected quite as much.
People - especially engineers in the Valley have been very well taken care of and expect to be pampered...the more you can throw into the benefit the better off you'll be at recruiting. This means amazing heathcare, lots of food in the office, free lunches and dinners, gadgets, Aeron chairs, etc...