From one Silicon Valley to another
When I first decided I was going to leave school and go abroad for a semester before my junior year of college, the reactions I received were very mixed… Some people told me I was brave and how they wished they had the courage to do the same, while many questioned what I was thinking leaving my structured path and putting myself behind during such an important time in my college career. But when I told them I was leaving my hometown in the Bay Area of San Fran to intern at a startup on the other side of the world in Cape Town, the reactions were always the same: why am I leaving the greatest startup hub in the world to join the industry in a market that is only beginning to emerge?
Surprisingly enough, I never was actually exposed to the startup world while growing up right outside of San Francisco. I have always been surrounded by lawyers and finance majors who complain about tech companies taking over the city and sky rocketing real estate prices…showcasing the obvious tension between the corporate and startup landscape. In SF, a tech bubble separates outsiders, especially students, from this world.
The first time I experienced the excitement and energy of the innovative thinkers and bright entrepreneurs behind these new companies was actually in Barcelona, where a strong startup culture is evolving from a lack of job opportunities in Spain. Bearing witness to an emerging market where young people are turning environmental and cultural challenges into opportunities was what pulled me to want to be a part of it.
Silicon Valley is of course a hub for many great and successful startups, but it has begun to churn out new companies like a machine. In the spirit of innovative thinking and unconventionality I came to Cape Town, where even starting a startup relies on a new perspective.
In just my first week here in Cape Town, I can already see similarities that may make both places such strong creative hubs. Edgy cafes, restaurants, and shops are everywhere, suggesting a need to be different and create an atmosphere that becomes not just aesthetic, but a lifestyle. Both are very dynamic cities, with urban aspects winding into beautiful scenery and open space that calls for adventure. Across the world, both cities attract a kind of spirit, a restless mind looking to leave structure and convention and go out into the world to reinvent something. Of course there is so much more that goes into the base of a good startup hub such as talent, investors, and regulations to allow growth, but I really believe that culture and landscape inspire minds that seek out these types of environments.
I’m settling into this beautiful city by hiking Devil’s Peak, sailing and exploring the Waterfront, shopping at Hout Bay, and eating everything in sight at Old Biscuit Mill. I am already inspired by the city and the people, and feel so lucky to have the opportunity to drop everything and come here for the next five months, where I can bring a new perspective to a growingly global business. As I dive into the fast paced, exciting world of Eventerprise, I can’t wait to see what Cape Town has in store for me.
Originally published at www.eventerprise.com on August 29, 2016.