A word from Equidam co-founder Gianluca Valentini

I recently came back from a soft-landing program to the Silicon Valley and I can tell you, while you may read Techcrunch or any other blog, you are not prepared for what’s there.

Alright—that’s an easy statement to make and yet, hardly anybody finds the right words to describe the experience.

How many times have you heard: “It’s a just different vibe” or “There are so many interesting people” and “Money grows on trees there” … I could continue. Not saying these are misstatements (apart from the money trees for a bit), but since I came back I’ve been racking my brain about the best way to tell my friends here in Holland what it’s like over there.

I still have to find a truthful, telegraphic-like reason on why the Silicon Valley is the Silicon Valley, leaving out words such as “great”, “amazing”, and other lingo which you’ll soon adopt by attending networking events (yeah, whatever you do it’s 90% “GREAT”). You’ll stop paying attention to it after a while, along with the “how are you” question people open up with even when serving you (Yes: they are NOT asking how you are REALLY doing… So don’t unload a long, thoughtful answer).

My 2-cents beyond the “amazing”, as I try to take everything I saw there with a grain of salt:

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees and yet VC’s bank accounts are loaded with it: that’s a true story, which brings us to the next point;
  • VCs are loaded but raising capital is far from easy: they are loaded for Billion-dollar deals, which means that…
  • VCs are all chasing the “big shot” and competition is beyond fierce. This implies that they are obsessed with scrutinizing what other VCs are doing, in a sort of predominant…
  • Herding behavior. Alright, that’s an overstatement. So how do VCs actually spot opportunities? They mastered the art of..
  • “Pattern recognition” —as offered by Bastiaan Janmaat, CEO of DataFox—meaning, VCs can feel from the early communications with you if you have “momentum” and if you are a possible winner. This is something VCs have learned by experience and that’s why Founders Fund and Sequoia are those who set the trends. Outstanding people make outstanding investment decisions, and there is as little fundamental (or objective) analysis in this. This implies that..
  • To start a billion dollar company and get the funding necessary you most likely need to breathe the Valley area for a while. I think networking in the Valley is as important as HR (once you already have your company, if ever). That’s probably why there is …
  • Networking lingo: which is filled with positivity and other magic that will hardly hurt anybody’s feelings. Who knows who they are talking with, though… Maybe the next Steve Jobs is just a bit down the line. So the networking lingo is crucial especially for…
  • Early rounds, which are led by angels and super-angels (not only VCs are loaded!): there’s a real inflation of angels and they also look at the top guys to step in good deals, which means that…
  • You’ll meet at lot of “angels”, who will hardly invest if they don’t spot the pattern I mentioned before. There’s no escaping that. How you get to the “pattern recognition” stage? Again, Networking and..
  • By looking at the future with the eyes of the Valley. That’s my final take: there definitely are more people with inspirations than anywhere else in the world. The way they look at what’s ahead of us is honestly unique. Abstract at times, but cannot be replicated.

An that’s exactly the magic of the valley ecosystem: it inspires entrepreneurs, it feeds them with confidence, it enables their visions thanks to an ecosystem of likeminded persons and, as a good mother, it teaches you hardship, competition, failure and finally, success.