How to Survive in San Francisco As A Founder - The Complete Survival Guide
You might have a vision of what San Francisco is like for an entrepreneur: taking self-driving cars from meeting to meeting in a sunny backdrop with a Red Hot Chilli Peppers soundtrack – I will not comment if that is what I expected. This guide will hopefully help bring you closer to reality.
As you might guess from the above, arriving in San Francisco as part of the SILTA programme was surprising in many ways. It felt like starting in a new school or a job, my environment changed drastically with its new customs, jargon and intensity. Therefore, with the authority of being here for a few months, I decided to write a survival guide for entrepreneurs to soften the landing into the SF ecosystem:
Everything is faster in SF, therefore even this list has 9 points instead of the expected 10. The pace at which people, innovation and ideas move here is impressive. Following the AI revolution at its mecca has taught me a lot about what is needed to stay competitive with companies that come from here. Speed is everything and you need to keep up; it's a global market.
2. Get ready for intense networking
You might think you know networking – you don’t. SF does it differently. 10s if not 100s of people packed in events asking each other: “So what do you do?” and quickly trying to cover as many people as possible (a bit of an over-exaggeration - but you get the idea). It’s an effective fearless approach that, especially, when coming from Finland, can be a bit overwhelming but you’ll get used to it.
3. 15s pitch
You will answer the question “So what do you do?” hundreds of times, be ready. You need to have a quick 15-second pitch on hand. Something simple and understandable. I learned this lesson the hard way after realizing that for the full first week here, I was staring into non-comprehending and bored eyes after giving a 3-minute monologue about wine and tech - that even I myself didn’t fully understand.
4. Be yourself
Although you might have an agenda for what you want, try to forget it. Be authentic, don’t force your ask on others, and just talk and enjoy the events and meeting the incredible people you will inevitably meet.
5. Always something going on
There is always something going on in SF. There will be three events going on at the same time you wish you could attend, while you are missing another four you do not even know about. Do not let this bother you. There will always be a new day and another seven events you’ll miss and you also need to get some actual work done.
6. Go for a run or a hike
Sometimes it might be good to skip an event and clear your mind with a run or a hike. There is incredible nature everywhere around the city and going for a run in the city is a great way to get to know it.
7. Dress casually to fit in
People always say that Californians dress casually, it is true. During my first month here I have seen one suit and I am 100% sure that it was a tourist. In the book “Uncanny Valley” (great book by the way) Anna Weiner describes everyone in SF as looking like they could scale a mountain at any moment which is more accurate than I expected. Patagonia is the mainstream choice, Cotopaxi is the new kid in town. Whether you want to fit in is a whole other question.
8. Always 13 degrees
When going to the aforementioned runs or events be ready for 13 degrees weather. It is always 13 degrees, in the evenings it's a slightly cooler 13 degrees and during the day a bit warmer 13 degrees.
9. Find your place
SF is massive, there is a “scene” for everybody. You just need to find it, and try to expose yourself to a wide range of events early on; you’ll find your crowd. SF is for everyone, especially if you are into the 13 degree weather.
As a bonus 10th tip/shameless plug: dining out in SF is expensive, if you stay home and cook, go to our website https://sommify.ai/ to find which wine pairs the best to the meal you will be enjoying. :)
Have fun creating,