We started out our tour of "The Valley" with a trip to LS9, a biotechnology firm which specializes in producing a renewable petroleum fuel as diesel. LS9 is based in the South San Francisco area, about a 45 minute drive from our hotel.
At the office/laboratory we learned a lot about the companies vision and the process of acquiring funds to get your ideas further off the ground. Similar to many other great companies, their idea started with two guys in a garage (which I think is where I should start my business, there appears to be a trend). It is not currently a profitable business but has millions of dollars in funding from venture capitalists. Above all, we learned about the process many entrepreneurs in the valley go through to turn their visions into reality through funding, raising capital and branding. We talked about the risks you must take and how you have to be able to look past the risk, but know when it is too much. We also talked about being able to present your ideas and keeping your focus on your purpose.
I found all of the topics we covered very interesting and it was helpful to have a scientific background because I was actually able to understand how the process of turning sugar cane into bio fuel works. Aside from my feelings about "green" alternative fuels, the presentation was extremely informative. John was very knowledgeable and had excellent answers for any questions we had for him.
Sarah is the author of the book, Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good. Although I have yet to read the book, our discussion with her was very informative. She had some great insight into life in Silicon Valley. She gave us great information based on her experiences on what to do and how to do handle situations in the entrepreneurial world. I was clearly able to see the passion she has for what she does and as she told us, don't follow the money. If you have passion and love what you are doing, the money will follow you.
From what I could gather from our meeting, she was a very genuine, friendly person and it has translated to her success into journalism and PR. She was one of the first journalists to interview people such as Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg and Digg creator Kevin Rose. It was not because she was the best journalist or because had the most connections, it was because she believed in these people before they were successful and gave them the time of day when nobody else would. She put in the time to get to know them in a sincere way before anybody knew who they were, not because she knew it would help her in the future, but because she was interested in their ideas. The idea of being above somebody was something that crossed her mind and has now led to her being able to catapulte somebody into wider fame through her reporting. In media's terms, she was the first one on the scene. Everybody else was a few months too late.
Sarah seemed to be the person who is able to look past the craziness in peoples ideas and see that they can be useful and that is what Silicon Valley is based upon. Negativity is contagious and I hate it. For instance, it started with a crazy idea such as a computer, which I am sure was shut down my many cynics, and now has completely changed the way we live. People should try their ideas and see how they work out, regardless of who says it cannot work. It is the ideas of many entrepreneurs that have formed an entire community and has attracted people from all walks of life to take part in its development here in Silicon Valley.
We still have the night free, but thus far I have already attained a lot of knowledge from just two meetings. I have been presented with a great opportunity to learn from a lot of very intellegent people. Their stories of success and failure are something I can really use to better prepare myself in a ever changing world.
Until next time,
Create, inspire and be inspired.