Lessons From the Valley

This Summer we were accepted in an accelerator program for Latinos named Manos Accelerator where we had the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley and learn from a lot of people. There are a lot of things to share but this time I want to focus on the most important lessons that I got from that experience. Also you can read what I learned from a Techcrunch Disrupt Hackathon here.

Let’s start with the mantra of many Startups in the Valley…

Get Shit Done

I didn’t like this culture at all, why?, most Startups get it like: “do things, no matter how”, no matter if your employees feel bad, if you have to hurt or even bribe someone, everyone has to get shit done and get to the goal.

I started to see this phrase different one day when I met a guy, who I will call Tim, that said he worked every day more than 18 hours on his startup, I was shocked, not even on my most productive days I been able to achieve that, and Tim was doing it daily!. After talking with Tim’s co-founder who told me that their product wasn’t doing so well, I asked him how was that possible since his co-founder was “working his ass off 18 hours per day”, and he replied with a grim laugh “Yeah, but from those 18 hours he spends 10 hours in Facebook and Gmail”.

Some weeks later, thanks to a friend I got the opportunity to meet Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, who taught me a great lesson, by making us wait like an hour at Kiip’s HQ lounge… While we were waiting, I saw him pass by a couple of times, rushing everywhere, talking on the phone and even in a meeting, the most interesting thing here is that it was pass by the hour of work for normal people, and he still was “working his ass off”. That moment alone made me reflect about what Tim said about working 18 hours and then I finally understood the real meaning of the phrase “Get Shit Done”, It was to work really hard, not to say that you work 18 hours, is to let your product and attitude talk for you. I totally wanted that to be part of the culture of my Startup.

“Any decision, even the wrong decision is better than no decision” — Ben Horowitz

You Don’t Need to Know Everything

A problem I’ve seen in some people is that they feel that is needed to work 5–10 years in something and become experts to know what they are doing before being able to launch a Startup. But let me tell you a secret, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Bill Gates and most entrepreneurs got no freaking idea what they are doing when they start, but that didn’t stop them.

I met Chris Wanstrath, CEO of Github, at Startup Grind he shared with us his experience of being a first time CEO, how he sucked at it, and resigned from the position. Years later he was back on being the CEO, this time he made some changes, he started to learn how to be a CEO by reading books, blogs, etc…

Chris Wanstrath

That’s the second lesson, you don’t need to know everything, but learn and learn fast because your competition is also working on it.

“No one is a born CEO, but no one tells you that” — Drew Houston

Be a Rockstar Team Player

This lesson I got it from my friends from a fellow batch Startup Couple Care.


They arrived to the Valley only for a couple of weeks for some program non related to the Manos Accelerator program, they were on their way back to their country when by the twists of fate ended at Manos. Something not so good since they weren’t economically prepared for been outside of the country for so much time.

In order to survive they decided to gather the teams money and the three of them started to act as one, every time they went out, needed to take the train or anything they always thought “the three or none”. Something that is really admirable, and not only that, if you wish to succeed in your startup, the team needs to walk in the same direction, if you are selfish you won’t be able to walk along and only will be a dead weight for the company.

“Talent wins games, teamwork and intelligence wins championships” — Michael Jordan


If you are a developer usually you have this same problem, you can’t focus on one thing, you are always looking for ways to create new features, products or projects.

Something that I learned is that if you want to compete at hight level you need to focus on one thing at the time, unless you can clone yourself, you won’t be able to give your 100%, you only will be tricking yourself and the team.

There are many more things that you learn from been there, but the only true way to learn how to be an entrepreneur is doing it yourself, so stop reading and do just like we say in Honduras!

“HACELO PUE*” — Geeks Honduras

*Stop talking and do it.

Book Recommendations

  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things — Ben Horowitz
  • The Four Steps to the Epiphany — Steve Blank
  • High Output Management — Andrew Groove
  • Startup Leadership — Derek Lidow
  • The Lean Startup — Eric Ries
  • Zero to One — Peter Thiel
  • How To Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie
  • Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time — Keith Ferrazzi

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