Friday, 24 October 2014

Silicon Valley Sunshine - Google EYE

I feel exceptionally privileged to be selected amongst 5 other wonderful teams from the Empowering Young Entrepreneurship (EYE) program to go on this Silicon Valley trip sponsored by Google and CUHK. It's been a steep learning curve and the people I encountered were extraordinary. The itinerary was packed with wonders of startups, accelerators, not-so-startup-anymore-companies e.g. Google, Evernote, investors and meetups - credits and thanks to Betty (@bettwty) and her team who spent months organising this! :) 

The crew :D

We stayed at the Domain Hotel at Sunnyvale with good amenities and convenient stores/restaurants around. We had multiple (if not all) late nights working on our pitches and sharing, the hotel lobby was our hang out spot with an excessive amount of welcoming sofas. I also particularly enjoyed the american style buffet breakfast, a crunchy hash-brown was the golden start of every morning. 

Silicon Valley has the perfect weather for cycling all year round, and at Google you can pick up any of these bikes to breeze through their stunning campus. We had an eventful first day at the Google offices and learnt about their entrepreneurial culture, initiatives and Moonshot projects. 

My friends once suggested "skydiving" using Google Earth on a laptop (or with a large enough monitor). Now look at this at the Google HQ, I guess if you zoom in fast enough with a massive fan in front of you, it will be pretty close to actually jumping off a plane? 

Google's food is good? Google's food is very good. And it's free for staff and their guests, so make sure you have a Googler's best friend, or better still, work there! It is always inspiring to see how leadership and culture are aligned to spark creatively that can get and keep talents. 

The legendary slide at Google. Currently only staff is allowed to go up to the second floor (where the slide starts), hence it's a little off bound for visitors unless you want to risk climbing up... 

I enjoyed Google Store a little too much? I am now an Android :P 

Nest GSV is a spacious co-working space with accelerator programs to jumpstart high-potential startups. We had an insightful afternoon learning how to "De-code Silicon Valley" and see the latest trends and best practices. 

Of course, Nest GSV also had a slide, which company doesn't in SV? The team and I discussed the symbolism of having a slide in the office, we concluded that it creates a playful and idea welcoming atmosphere which all companies desperately need at all times. Apart from it being a little clich√© and turning an office into a semi-playground, I believe it does preserve (or reignite) the youth in our hearts to see beyond the impossible. 

Standford was stunning, from the soft beige historical buildings to the fresh green lawn that seemed to go on forever. We were greatly blessed to be able to meet Tina Seelig personally, she even gave us a short but life-changing sharing on innovation and entrepreneurship, such a wonderfully inspiring woman! If you are interested, you should read one of her book "What I wish I knew when I was 20", even if you are over 20!

Upon our visit at Evernote, we learned about their vision and story. It was very encouraging to learn about different versions of startup stories, as it reminded us that every startup is unique, there is no one formula for success. 

Yay, Google Glass for the first time at Wearable World! :D 

We had an invaluable opportunity to pitch at Plug and Play accelerator. 

Smule is an awesome example that people want to learn because they just want to learn, and people want to build a great startup because they want to connect people through music. 

Institute for the Future - Always thinking ahead. 

Everyday, everywhere, anytime, you need to be ready to pitch. Sometimes I forget practice makes perfect, sometimes I thought great presenters are born with it, but the fact is, everyone of us need to master it by doing it enough in front of all types of people with full confidence. I am learning, failing,  learning again and doing better everytime. 

At UC Berkeley, we spent an afternoon in their SkyDeck accelerator office, the innovation, technology and positive energy level were fascinating. The above figurer was 3D scanned and printed, the accuracy and speed of this field is getting significantly better by the day.  

I love making homemade postcards! This was taken on our last day at the trip, not only does it greatly symbolises an end to a wonderful lesson, it also signifies a new beginning of what's to come. 

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