The first DMG trip to San Francisco had one overall aim - to learn. What’s the buzz in coffee shops like compared to London? What do people think of London, Europe and Brexit? How do startups get the best investors and vice versa? Will the outliers always come from SF? How can DMG be helpful to our portfolio and our network?
Some things we learned
- Coffeeshop buzz is the same as London - this is different to 5 years ago of course when Londoners were still slightly embarrassed about starting a startup. Now though SF coffeeshops seemed just ordinary - part of me thought there would be huddles of hackers coding away but the people hunched over laptops seemed to be blogging, not hacking.
- London is well thought of - particularly by angel investors - valuations are still much, much lower. VCs tend to think that all the best startups are still in SF but things are starting to change. Both kinds of investors want to be 'smart' and add value, which makes it more difficult if the distances and time zones are very different.
- Getting the best investors (as everywhere) is incredibly important. Things can happen quickly in SF but the best deals go to the more established investors so it's as important for the angel investors to bed themselves into the community as it is for entrepreneurs.
- The outlying 'decacorns' are still SF startups - Ubers showing up in 2 minutes, being cheaper than a London bus and AirBnB key boxes on every other house remind you that SF is the place of the mega-startup.
- SF for us is about building relationships - we'll be back again early next year and will always have this recent trip in mind when thinking about how DMG can add value to our portfolio and our network.
If you're going to San Francisco...
- Let us know so we can help connect you if you need it.
- However don’t arrange to meet people until the week before - a few days before we went there was no accommodation booked and no meetings in the diary.
- Meetings will lead to other meetings - keep plenty of space in the days ahead once you arrive.
- Talk to everyone - bar staff, Uber drivers, receptionists - they all have a view on startups, whether Uber is a good thing and how Trump is performing. It's a great pulse to check.
- It's an expensive place - Uber Pool is incredibly cheap but SF is more expensive than London for dinner and drinks.