Although I made two separate trips to see the Golden Gate Bridge, and failed to see it twice, I wouldn’t have wanted this trip any other way.
Thank you so much Tech Trek! This experience was better than I could have imagined, and changed my perspective. Although I always liked the idea of working and living on the West Coast, I don’t believe I ever took the idea seriously until now. When it seems that everyone is staying in Boston, or going to New York, shipping myself across the country seemed scary and lonely. But through Tech Trek, I have learned that it can be an amazing and rewarding experience, and BC alum are far from alone in California. I’m grateful for my amazing classmates that I was able to grow close with, and for the strength of the alumni network. It was consistently repeated that people are more than willing to take an hour to have a cup of coffee, and help introduce you to others. Although a smaller network, it was emphasized that it made it that much stronger and more connected.
This theme began on the very first night, and continued throughout. Whether it was a well-known person like Peter Bell, or a young salesperson like Nick Casale, the people we met with were ambitious, and excited to help out students. I think this became clear during the startup panel with Rainforest, Ironclad, Sendoso, and Beyond Pricing. Their stories and camaraderie gave a strong sense of community. Several had gotten their jobs through the others, and this was just a small subset of the overall community. The other thing I grasped from this panel was the passion and excitement they all had about their jobs. They knew what they wanted, and didn’t settle for the comfort of a set job before senior year that they weren’t truly passionate about. I think the prominent aspect to this panel was being able to relate, and their honesty about how they felt when they had recently been in our shoes.
Passion is another major takeaway I gained from our trip. There are the exciting, and fun moments of startups, but we also saw the difficult times they all undergo. It is the passion these people have for their mission that makes the difficult times worth it. Amy Errett, a serial entrepreneur, demanded that resilience and persistence were two key characteristics in order to be an operator. Difficult times are inevitable, and one must possess those qualities, to overcome not only everyday struggles, but also those soul-crushing stages in startups. We saw firsthand at Brava Home, how resilient and entrepreneur must be. The fact that they had to let go half of their employees, from 84-42, and still had us over the next day, portrayed their tenacity, in never losing a day that they could be getting their feet back on the ground. John Pleasants described the previous day as one of the hardest days of his life. These startups become a family, sharing a passion and a vision, and they don’t let anything go easy. Personally, from just meeting with their employees for one hour, I deeply hope that they are able to succeed. They deserve to prevail given their amazing product, and relentless spirit.
This concept of family wasn’t scarce, but prevalent in many startups. I would say Wonolo had one of the strongest cultures, which stemmed from their founder. Yong Kim, CEO and founder of Wonolo, was incredibly open with his story of traveling to the United States, and being turned away from dishwasher positions because people couldn’t understand him. From this experience he learned that so many people don’t have a network. With his mission, he was able to grow a company full of employees that are “committed to doing good things,” and are therefore in a sense, a tight-knit family. The values within the company are in fallible, and crucial to maintaining the atmosphere. Again stemming from their founder, Yong spoke of the early days when many gigs needed to be filled, so he and his few employees worked them. This practice has continued to the present where each employee must work a gig. This gives them a better sense of how to best support their workers and their experiences while on gigs.
Putting Yourself Out There
Tech Trek has given me the confidence to put myself out there, and to choose what is best for me rather than the most common route. I have realized that there isn’t one strict path, but rather many, and it depends person to person. You can blindly send yourself to San Francisco or you can grow a foundation through banking, or some other profession, and still have the opportunity to become an operator when the time is right. Riley Soward, who we met with at Nuro opened my eyes to this new opportunity. Although I don’t think my path will be the same as his, he highlighted how to better your opportunities and grow your network. Whereas I thought cold emailing would be viewed as obnoxious and improper, his efforts displayed that it is flattering and beneficial. He spoke of his senior Spring Break during which he cold emailed fifty people, and flew out to California to meet with these people, and to find the right place for him. He didn’t even end up at one of the companies that he met with, but threw himself full force into new opportunities. The only way to find the right opportunity is to completely engage yourself in your mission. This is parallel to how an operator must go about running their company day to day. Everyday is a challenge, but with the right mindset and complete attention, you can transcend your difficulties.
This trip was inspiring and exciting. I had a wonderful time, and look forward to seeing how this will influence my life in the future. Keep in touch everyone!