The third day started very early for the Silicon Valley Trek team. We were invited by Cambridge Judge Business School alumnus, Zarko, to visit the largest incubator in Silicon Valley – Plug and Play Tech Centre. We had a chance to see the startups in their earliest form – teams of as few as two people, often without any external funding. However, the track record of Plug and Play shows that some of them might become next technology giants, like Google or PayPal. Inside the incubator the young companies have all the infrastructure and support they need to grow, ranging from office supplies and printers to contacts with potential investors. Aside from the tour around the incubator, we also saw the incubator in practice by participating in a meeting between startups and a visiting Venture Capitalist.
We spent the rest of the morning focused on the funding side of the Silicon Valley cluster. We started with Glynn Capital, a unique VC combining private Venture Capital funds and public funds. We had a chance to discuss both the specifics of the VC business in Silicon Valley and global trends in the technology sector. As always the conversation was so engaging it was difficult to leave for our third meeting – the technology focused investment bank Growth Point Technology Partners. This meeting gave us a third party perspective on financing and VC – startup relations. We also had a chance to listen to the amazing life story of startups ranging from newspapers in the UK to software in San Francisco and Investment Banking in Silicon Valley.
After the meeting with Growth Point, we broke for lunch and had a mouth-watering Mongolian BBQ meal at Palo Alto. After this rather spicy fare, we convened once again at the office of IDEO for what turned out to be a stimulating discussion on how the company transforms ideas into cleverly crafted products and gadgets. IDEO is a design consulting firm that helps its clients innovate and grow. The company designs products for its clients based on detailed analysis of end consumers’ behavioral patterns. The main objective of this visit was to understand the evolution cycle of large companies in Silicon Valley – how these companies grow from modest start-ups into being highly respected enterprises with strong brand names. We are proud to note that one of our classmates, David Jensen worked with IDEO prior to the MBA and helped us set up this meeting.
Done with meetings on this third day, we happily made our way to Joya Restaurant in Palo Alto for an alumni event in the evening. A couple of alumni working in and around Palo Alto and San Francisco joined us for a few drinks and a good chat. Once you’ve went to school in Cambridge, there are many things that only people who went there truly understand. We reminisced about college life, formal halls, and even May balls. Its even crazy to think that we’re already reminiscing when we’ve only just finished the MBA. It was also nice to see a few MBA 2011 students at the event. Great commitment from them especially those who drove 2 hours just to be there that night… They were full of questions for us – how to make the best of the year ahead? What advice we had for them? Where to party in Cambridge? Do we buy a bicycle? How far is school from college? How to cope with stress? (Stress? Who said it was going to be stressful?), What books to read before the MBA? We all bonded instantly in the true spirit of being Cambridge Judge MBAs (current and future) and finished off the night (at least some of us) with a pizza dinner. I know we were told this several times when the year started, but it really flew by fast and you’ll truly create lifelong friends.
One more day to go!! Google mobile and HealthTap are up next.