Silicon Valley has an environment that every entrepreneur should look at with his own eyes when the time is right to scale to the next level.
After two years, three funding rounds in Spain and Europe, and a great number of investors, we believe that we are ready to take the next step in developing Wave, and the best inspiration we could find was in Silicon Valley.
It is an incredible technological centre filled with people, talent and ideas. Everything happens very fast and companies feed each other to grow dramatically. Everyone is hungry to build great products and companies. That mentality is what makes it so inspiring and different from countries like Spain where Wave co-founder Manuel de La Esperanza and I launched the business commercially two years ago.
Wave is a free app that allows two or more people to share their locations in real time on a dynamic map, so that they can find each other easily anywhere. The best part is privacy; all users need to give permission to share their location in each session. Wave now has millions of users in more than 150 countries and a new top-notch technology.
The key differences between Madrid and Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is known as the most developed hub for startups in the world. It is an ecosystem of growth in which entrepreneurs are encouraged and committed to developing new ideas. It is easier to get to know investors and get funded, despite the huge amount of competition.
In Madrid, the environment of the entrepreneur is still in baby shoes. Though great progress has been made in the last few years, there’s a lot that still needs to be done. We have incredible entrepreneurs that are building amazing projects, but it is really difficult to find institutional investment that can push all those projects forward to make them stand out in a worldwide perspective.
Things happen slowly, there’s lots of bureaucracy and fear about betting on risky projects with potentially huge upsides - it’s difficult. Spanish VCs should definitely take a step forward if they really want to become relevant at a European level. Tech hubs like London, Berlin, Paris and Dublin have all done things better than us. As a startup, we will definitely try to change things in our country, but for the moment it’s the time to move forward and travel abroad.
How difficult is it to network when you're in Silicon Valley
If you have scheduled your time, networking in Silicon Valley is simpler than people might think. It is essential to prepare the meetings in advance, get in touch with the right people and look for intermediate contacts that will introduce you to others. Personal referrals are key when it comes to meeting with other entrepreneurs or VCs.
In our case, we had contacts from all of our partners and board of advisors. Nevertheless, networking is something that requires intensive work. Things don’t happen automatically. You end up meeting the right people by connecting the dots, so it’s important to move fast and be active. Do your homework with all digital tools we now have and try to build that path as things develop.
It is really difficult to find institutional investment in Madrid that can push all those projects forward to make them stand out in a worldwide perspective.
Everyone in Silicon Valley is very hungry for new ideas and projects, so if you’ve got one don’t worry too much as it’s just a matter of time before you meet with the right people. It’s always a great idea to visit other startups there and digital companies. It is easy to meet really talented and inspiring people who are normally willing to help. Don’t miss the opportunity if you can check in with companies like Pinterest or Facebook too. It’s a lovely atmosphere.
The costs of our trip were quite well suited to what we expected, the standard of living is more expensive than in Madrid, but it is a strategic investment to go and build new relationships and strengthen those we already have.
Manuel and I are going to continue traveling frequently to San Francisco, and it’s possible that we will incorporate the company and settle there during Q2 or Q3 next year, although we will leave our headquarters and part of the team in Madrid.
Should you make the jump and go to Silicon Valley?
In my opinion, every entrepreneur would enjoy the experience because, in addition to meeting very interesting people, we have been able to see other fascinating projects first hand and we have verified that our vision is very well received.
In the end, we have seen the immense possibilities of growth that Wave has and that has made us very optimistic about the trip. However, it is necessary to know in which point of development your company is, if it is not already settled in the market, it is possible that you should wait a little and grow before launching yourself to conquer Silicon Valley.