From Tomsk to Silicon Valley and Back

    We have heard many times: “You’re sitting here in your Tomsk and don’t know what’s happening on the front line. When you come to Silicon Valley, your eyes will open to the world. ” Once they say, you need to go. We planned a trip for January along with the opening of a beta version of our service . In less than two months, we returned to Russia.

    And indeed, we have discovered a lot of new things. The most interesting discovery was that today Silicon Valley is the valley of CEOs, marketers, managers, and anyone else, but not developers. For us it was a great advantage, because we are techies. We even know how to embed video in Wordpress.

    There is a problem with sound, we recommend turning it off. But the Valley came out well.

    All the best and just good specialists are recruited by Google, Facebook, DropBox, LinkedIn and another hundred top companies. There they are provided with the most comfortable conditions for all criteria. At the same time, the salary for most engineers is far from the main motivator, although you can not call low salaries either. To a large extent, this situation applies specifically to web developers.

    As a result, simple companies without a big name, global mission and good financial opportunities cannot find a good developer. The salary of a beginner web-specialist is approaching $ 100 thousand per year, provided that he likes your team and the project seems interesting.

    Anyone going to California: DO NOT post CEO or something like that on your LinkedIn. There are four CEOs in one communal apartment. Whether you are looking for work or not, write “web-developer” or just “Python” and you will be happy. People immediately reach for you.

    You don’t need a special invitation to come to the Valley

    Before our trip, we read a lot of articles about how another startup came to the Valley at a conference or won a serious competition and the like. We did not win any contests, but we really wanted to go there. Therefore, without further ado, we made visas, bought tickets, and, as Gagarin said, we drove off. Although, like him, in fact we flew.

    You can get a B1 / B2 visa yourself without knowing anyone in the United States. An invitation can be made from almost any company, all the same, the embassy will not check this, because it is expensive. Bureaucracy and bureaucracy in America, and its basic concept is the speed of information movement close to zero.

    Good preparation for the interview is really important. All answers must be logical and consistent, look honest and innocent. The requirement, in fact, is one: it is impossible that the consulGuess took you for a potential expat. More detailed advice in abundance is provided by Google and Yandex.

    There is also a political side to the issue that we cannot influence: sometimes Americans are “offended” (however, there is a reason) and begin to refuse to everyone.

    Amazing Victor

    We lived mainly with friends. One of them works in a well-known office on the Habré, implements fast Fourier transform on Cuda. The company rents him a two-room suite at Hilton. And although it’s hard to believe, he doesn’t take girls there. However, this is not so surprising, because there are practically no girls in the Valley. Once we visited a local disco / party: two modest Chinese women with 20 shy guys.
    If you have no friends in those parts yet, this is fearless. An apartment in the Valley itself can be quickly rented for $ 1300 per month, slightly cheaper housing in San Francisco. A normal hostel in downtown San Francisco costs $ 25 per day.

    Good angelica

    It was interesting for us to try the services of the legendary silicone advisers. We decided to improve our presentations, having agreed on consultations with a good discount, it turned out: $ 125 per hour) with Angelica Blendstrop . Already at the second meeting, it turned out that Angelica needed help on her site (technical little things like embed-video inserts). We got a third consultation by barter: the first hour, Angelica helped us, and the second hour, we helped her. Angelica has taught us a lot, especially regarding communication in local culture. In addition, Miss Blendstrop presented our project to one of the investment funds, which resulted in a valuable contact. It is impossible not to note her personal qualities: Angelika is a competent specialist, kind and helpful person.

    Facebook Investors

    We did not plan to find an investor on this trip. But they wanted to talk with one of them in order to better understand what we would need to do in the future, so that in three months the conversation would end in a deal. We went for a couple of investment parties. Investors and representatives of investment funds have always grown into a lineup of startups who are eager to tell them something. We are bored in the queues from childhood, so we just hung out and drank free Coke.

    We decided to try to contact investors through social networks. We watched interviews, read articles, and selected the most interesting investors close to us in spirit. Then they wrote a message to them on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Of course, not all responded, but enough. After each personal meeting, we received so much new information that it only needed to be digested for a week. In general, we recommend that you boldly write to people directly. In California, people are very open to communication. Now we understand that in Russia you can not be especially shy. Apparently, you had to go to the other side of the globe in order to understand this.

    Countryman from Evernote

    We like Evernote for its design, ideology and, most importantly, we have been using it for a long time. Therefore, it was interesting to talk with them. We looked for contact with Evernote among all our friends. As a result, through a chain of 8 people, we managed to meet with Dmitry, one of the founders of the company.
    Dmitry gave us a pair of T-shirts with their logo, told a lot of interesting things about the markets of China, Japan and Russia. I will briefly retell his story in my own words:
    • in Japan, they are ready to try new things and do it on their own. That is, your service can become popular in Japan without promotion, users can come by themselves.
    • the Chinese market is almost infinitely large, but under strict censorship. Information must be shared carefully. In fact, any service that wants to work in the Chinese market must create its own separate Chinese counterfeit version.
    • Russia. It cannot be understood by the mind: the market is large, but at the same time small. Our users need the simplest basic things: an online store, search, news, communication. Therefore, it is better to run services with new functionality in other markets.

    In general, we got the feeling that due to Russian roots, Evernote managers feel a bit of responsibility for their compatriots: despite the fact that Dmitry did not catch our fire on idea, we talked heartily and really.

    Hipster google

    Three months before arriving in the Valley, we started correspondence with Christian, the project manager for closing Google Wave (the project is called Walkaround). Christian gave a tour of Google’s office in Mountain View.
    It seemed that in the Valley there was a competition for the most stylish and comfortable office, and Google decided to defeat everyone again. The air is filled with fast and password-free Wi-Fi. The food is delicious, all the main cuisines of the world are presented, and even for free. There is something to see, admire: many sculptures and entertaining installations, cool slides for the infantile. Around the office running live rabbits.
    Sketch conveying atmosphere: a lady with an open laptop and a poodle on a leash is walking around the office. It should be noted that not all companies in the valley are. We were in several “offices”, from which corporate spirit prevails.

    Trip Result

    Initially, we set ourselves the goal of receiving feedback and promoting the project. We did not set ourselves the goal of finding investment. Although, of course, we considered this option, of course, I want to find and relax a bit on financial matters.
    PR and programming can also be from Russia (as iamAnton correctly noted ) But the feedback was really priceless. In general, we understood what markets and how we need to enter. In addition, they understood a very important criterion: a serious conversation with a venture fund about investments begins when the number of users approaches 10 thousand. This applies to services for business and collaboration tools. On entertaining conversations begin when the number of active users approaches 100 thousand.
    In general, you need to finish, speed up, write instructions, watch where users are uncomfortable, like Facebook and return.

    Silicone invite

    Habralyudi from Tomsk! On Sunday (March 18) at 15:00 local time, we invite everyone to the sports bar BetCourt on Lenin, 174. The event is held by Rizzoma together with SCRUM experts from RosBusinessDesign . For every JavaScript specialist, a mug of beer for a jerk is free. Readers from other cities of the world who have a teleport are also invited.

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