Blogging from Silicon Valley: Day one
Fear of failing in Silicon Valley
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
By Maryam Awan
For many in the class, the trip to San Jose was the most awaited part of the first year of EMBA program. This trip seemed like a window of opportunity: where I could a have a break from the chaos back home, see the Silicon Valley in person and visit the United States for the first time. We flew from Ottawa to San Francisco on Saturday May 14, and then travelled to our hotel in San Jose. The only drawback was that we brought Ottawa’s cold weather with us!
After a lunch break we went to visit the Savannah-Channelle Winery in Saratoga. The views were absolutely gorgeous and the tour guide had a lot to say… how good was the wine? I can’t say since I never tried any. My colleagues however had a great time trying different types of wines and learning about each bottle as we were walking though the several acres of vines. I did however learn about the entire process of wine making and the difference between wine, port and brandy.
The Sunday morning was all about work. On top of working on our team projects for our San Jose clients, we had to prepare for this trip by reading and critiquing books on Silicon Valley. The bottom line of the conversation on Sunday was how your organization could have a more innovative culture. Organizational culture encompasses three things, the People, the Processes and the Structure. Innovative managers work with these dimensions of the organization and encourage the people to become more innovative in the way they solve problems, understand processes and follow the structures.
My key learning from this session is the fact that failure of an idea or a product is alright. One can fail and learn from that mistake and do better the next time. We need to identify the strengths among the people we have in our organizations, motivate them to further their knowledge and invest in them for our long term future goal. Use what you have in terms of talent and outsource what you don’t have.
On Monday morning, we went to the US Market Access Center and had an interesting presentation by Alfredo Coppola. This organization is a partnership between the city of San Jose and Stanford University where they help foreign companies get established in the area. They incubate these companies for a maximum two years, train the people behind them and help them achieve funding via angel investors. When the companies are strong enough in San Jose market, they leave the US-MAC and become independent while a new set of innovative companies go through the same cycle again.
Steve Bengston and Rafiq Dossani gave some interesting presentations about the statistics and history of San Jose. They also discussed how Venture Capitalists work and how difficult it is to become a successful entrepreneur in this region.
Most of the people in my group are not entrepreneurs but some of us are. Becoming an entrepreneur takes some serious dedication. When one thinks of a crazy idea for a business and is willing to invest their money, their personal life and all their energy into it, the stakes are really high. The fact that it’s ok to fail is easier said than done. If the idea becomes successful, you are lucky but if it doesn’t, then there is much more to lose.
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