• Dimitris Rigas

Our entrepreneurial trip to Silicon Valley

Every fall, Mindspace organises a trip to San Francisco for people who are interested in getting to know the Silicon Valley mindset or want to network in the US and get feedback on their entrepreneurial ideas. After two years of COVID restrictions, we finally managed to travel to California, more specifically to San Francisco and met with all kinds of amazing and interesting people. From entrepreneurs, to Greeks who work or study there and representatives from big corporations or ventures and accelerators, this is the detailed schedule we followed and every meeting we attended. Enjoy!


Day 1:


Workshop with Cheryl Edison & Janette Chung

Cheryl Edison is a Business Growth Strategist, Coach and Speaker based in Silicon Valley, USA. She serves leaders with business growth strategies. Her speciality is new category launch and business model pivots that make the most of emerging opportunities. Quoted by USA Today, CNN & The Silicon Valley Business Times, Edison has been based in San Francisco since the dawn of the internet, travelling to work on-site in 73 countries. She delivered a workshop about leadership and entrepreneurship, the skills and characteristics you have to develop in order to be a successful entrepreneur. We also talked about the stages of start-ups and funding, the stages and the opportunities of funding and investment. It was a great hands-on experience we had with Cheryl, she was open to answering our questions and giving us her tips and insight based on her experience in the business world. Along with Cheryl, Janette Chung, Chief Product Officer at Copper, talked to us about her inspiring journey that changed the lives of millions of people across Asia regarding e-commerce. We also had the opportunity to have a Q&A with her, where she was more than happy to share her insights.


Welcoming Session at the Consulate of Greece in San Francisco

In the evening of our first day, we were invited to the Consulate General of Greece in San Francisco to network and talk about Greek innovation and entrepreneurship. Guests at the event were also Greeks working in San Francisco, entrepreneurs from the Elevate Greece national program and Deputy Ministers Dimas and Fragkogiannis. We want to give special thanks to Mr Socrates Sourvinos, Consul General for having us and Mrs Daphne Vitsikounaki for her kind help and support before and during our trip to San Francisco.


Day 2:


QC Ware

QC ware is a quantum-computing-as-a-service startup based in Palo Alto, California. Its main clients are Fortune 100 and Fortune 200 companies that are looking for RnD software. The main clients' industries are Finance, Automotive, Pharmaceuticals and Aerospace companies. Yianni Gamvros, Senior Vice President, Head of Business Development, welcomed us to their office and chatted with us about investors, funding, pitching and selling from a startup point of view.


Stanford Tour

Later in the day, we had the opportunity to get a guided tour of Stanford University from members of the Hellenic Association, Elena Pittarokoili, Elise Loppinet, Nikos Kateris and Ioanna Vavelidou.







Day 3:


Carbon

Carbon is a vertically integrated manufacturer that offers its own software, hardware, and materials products that leverage Digital Light SynthesisTM, or DLSTM, technology to produce isotropic end-use parts. Connor Spiegelman, Director of the University Programme met with us at Carbon HQ, gave us a tour of the premises and the labs, showed us prototypes they have developed and talked with us about the business aspect of Carbon and how it operates as a company.


Google Campus

Manolis Kounelakis, Program Manager at Play Store at Google and Yianis Pavlidis, Senior Engineering Manager at Google gave us a tour of the new Google Bay View Building. Together we talked about life at Google and Silicon Valley. They also gave us some insight into their journey and what it took to move from Greece to California.



Meetup with the Greek Community

We were honoured by getting invited to one of the monthly events organised in San Francisco by the Greek Community.


Day 4:


Meta Reality Labs

We had initially scheduled a visit at Meta Reality Labs hosted by Marily Nika. Unfortunately, there was a last-minute cancellation following the thousands of employee layoffs at Meta that specific day. The meeting will be organised virtually for our participants.


Lecture at the University of San Francisco with the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs

On Wednesday, November 9th we were invited to the Lecture of the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs at the University of San Francisco. Our participants attended the event and had the opportunity to talk and network with everyone who was present there.





Day 5:


Apple Inc.

We spent our morning at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino with Mr Nikos Sarilakis, Product Marketing at Apple. Mr Sarilakis talked with our participants about his career path and what led him to Apple, what it is like to work in San Francisco and a large corporation, the differences in mindset between Greece and the USA and more. He also shared his insight on entrepreneurship based on past initiatives.


Plug & Play

Plug and Play Tech Center is a global innovation platform aiming to connect early-stage investors, startups, and the world’s largest corporations together. Tota Zoura was kind enough to host an organised meeting for us. We talked about funding and investments, the path you have to follow as an early-stage startup and we met with founders of startups that are part of Plug and Play who explained their journey, tips and tricks with us through Q&A. We also had a talk and a Q&A with Davis Auksmuksts, Investor at Plug and Play, and, Andreas Stavropoulos, Partner at Threshold Ventures.


Day 6:


Workshop with Ceryl Edison

In our last meeting with Cheryl Edison we talked more in depth about funding and investments. At what stage should you start looking for funding, what is the end goal of every venture, how to know when it's a good time to exit or not, how to calculate your company's worth and last but not least, know what to and what not to compromise. We also received certificates of completion for the workshops aiming to help us get a deep understanding of the Silicon Valley mindset.


Day 7:


OpenAI

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence (AI) research laboratory which conducts research in the field of AI with the stated goal of promoting and developing friendly AI in a way that benefits humanity as a whole. The organization was founded in San Francisco in late 2015 by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and others. Aris Konstantinidis, Business Operations at OpenAI welcomed us at their HQ, gave us a tour of the space and hosted a meeting about the company and his journey leading up to this position. Also, there was plenty of time for Q&A.


 

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