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What it was like to explore Silicon Valley for one day

March 5, 2014, 3:52 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 1140

By @mariocantin

As someone involved in the startup community and not located in Silicon Valley, it's easy to feel underprivileged in a sense, speaking from my experience at the very least.

Having decided to attend Jason Calacanis's three-day conference in San Francisco at the end of February 2014 I had opted to extend my stay so I could dedicate one day to explore the Valley, as well as spend some time discovering San Francisco with my wife so we could get acquainted with this beautiful city. We stayed nine days in total.


On Thursday the 27th,  we left for the Valley in our car rental -- an American muscle sedan that was pleasurable enough to take for a spin on the highway and other roads for the better part of a day.


It took us about an hour to reach Palo Alto, which is a beautiful community lined with trees and mission style architecture.


Speaking of architecture, the buildings of Stanford University are simply breathtaking to visually take in.

We found a place to park for free on Ramona Street, which is a refreshing contrast to attempting to do so in downtown San Francisco on a weekday.


Following Steve Blank's advice, we went to Coupa Café, where it's presumably obvious that many engineers are present at any given time.

I made contact with someone, who as I had speculated, turned out to be an engineer, and I made a new acquaintance just like that!


What makes Silicon Valley so great is the sheer concentration of engineering talent, along with its social permeability, derived from the meritocracy that defines it.

It would be a very definite advantage to dwell in the valley for this very specific reason, not to mention the proximity to abundant capital.

Simply touring the campus grounds is a revelatory experience its own right. I personally have found it to be electrifying.

After obliging my wife to a short shopping spree in the town's lovely shops, we headed for Mountain View and the Google complex. No one would let me in. This is in contrast to my experience, a couple days prior, of having been allowed to tour the facilities at Zynga, in San Francisco.


Nonetheless if you are startup founder, it is my opinion that it is worth the trip so as to have an empirical appreciation of the sheer magnitude of the Google empire -- it's quite the reference point.

The LinkedIn facilities are nearby as well.


We then headed for 3000 Sand Hill Rd., where all the venture-capital firms are situated. I was surprised by how remote this location was in relation to anything else.

We simply drove by without stopping as I don't know anyone there (yet).

In order to procure a mix of business and pleasure, we made a point of heading back to San Francisco through Highway One, which runs parallel to and in proximity of the coastline, stopping for a few minutes at Half Moon Bay Beach.


The route to the latter from Sand Hill Road was remarkably scenic. Spending about half an hour on the beach was refreshing. As an aside, the water is treacherous and reportedly infested with sharks.


But it's a nice location to put one's thoughts in order.

Heading back to San Francisco, we eventually merged onto the 280 which led us to downtown San Francisco, where we attended a meetup event that had been organized by Rocketspace Inc., a local startup accelerator.

There were buckets full of beer and wine -- all free for the taking, in addition to 40 boxes of large-size pizzas, half of which remained untouched.

The event was not much different from startups events we conduct in Toronto along similar lines,  and so that was an interesting point of reference for me personally.

This concluded our day reconnoitering in Silicon Valley, and we headed back to our apartment for the rest of the evening.


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