You’re not in Kansas anymore. An Aussie founder hitting San Francisco pavement.

Hello! My name is Jade and I’m a Sydney-sider coffee addict that’s currently in San Francisco for 2 months to learn about what it’s like to be here in the heart of Silicon Valley. I’m currently working on a startup called Homeful, to help people achieve financial freedom, escape the rental rat race and live in their dream suburb at less than what they’re paying for rent.

So I’m currently in San Francisco following Startmate, Australia’s version of Y-Combinator, to see what really happens here in the heart of this city that conceived almost every iconic tech company that we know today. I landed here exactly a week ago (11 April), and it’s been a mind-boggling, whirlwind journey as a solo, female Aussie entrepreneur, trying to get people to pay attention in this city of lights and loud noises.

I’ve received so much time and help from many kind people in the startup community both in Sydney and San Francisco and have made many faux pas along the way. I’m hoping this might save another founder from making the same mistakes.

So what do you do to make the most of San Francisco? Well, the preparation should start before you hop off the plane.

1. Ask everyone you know if they know someone else in San Francisco that they can introduce you to.

Warm introductions are what makes the world turn here in San Francisco. Getting into the “in-crowd” is difficult — is derided as useless, unfortunately! All the valuable events are invite-only, and require you to know other people.

As such, when you land, to get over your jetlag, you should set up as many meetings as you can. And in every meeting, ask who else they can introduce you to talk to. But always come to the table with a goal i.e. mine is “I want to get into an US-based accelerator, and meet people with experience in building 3-sided marketplaces.”

Often, people here are so polite and wonderful, that you’ll always get a gold nugget out of the meeting — all for the price of a coffee! (If not, then at least you’ve had a cup of coffee to help get over the jetlag.)

Something a lot of founders forget is to always ask if there’s anything that they are working on where you can help them as well. It’s a give and take relationship — always give back, even if there’s not much you can do at the time.

Tip: You’ll find that given the time difference, you’ll be far more alert in the AM than the PM (4pm is usually when jetlag kicks in the hardest).

Tip 2: If there’s someone in particular you want to meet, use to see who can introduce you.

2. Always send a follow up email.

Always do this with everyone that you meet, and recite the 2–3 main things you learnt from the meeting and how that might drive your next steps forward. It is also an excellent opportunity to ask for another introduction to someone else.

Remember in sending a request for an introduction — always do all the hard work for them and include a paragraph about yourself and what you’re looking for.

This is what I include in the emails to ask for an introduction:

Introducing you to Jade, from Homeful. She’s building a company to help people achieve financial freedom, escape the rental rat race and live in their dream suburb while getting out of debt. Homeful uses tiny houses renting out empty backyards to help people own their own house in their dream suburb at a fraction of the price and financial commitment of typical home ownership.

She’s looking for advice on {{insert your ask here}}. She’s in San Francisco for the next month, and would appreciate an opportunity to chat.

Also, here, “time is money”, people! So short, snappy emails are the way to go. I’m not very good at this — but I’ve been using a plugin called Crystal Knows that has been great at helping me identify the “email preferences” of the people I reach out to.

3. Don’t go down 6th Avenue or Tenderloin. Take Uber and Lyft.

What shocked me the most about San Francisco are the micro-suburbs. We’re currently living in StartupHouse, which is off 5th Avenue (which is quite a lovely street with Westfields and hotels) —but if you walk one block down to 6th Avenue, it gets very weird. Fast.

I completely understand why Uber and Lyft worked so well starting in San Francisco. The need for “short commute” solutions, especially through Tenderloin, makes something that’s cheaper than taxis but easier than public transport a no-brainer.

Uber Pool and Lyft Line are also excellent ways to meet locals in the community. You’ll be surprised how often you might bump into another VC / founder in the car — so have a 2 minute pitch ready.

Plug: Here are my referral codes for Uber and Lyft. ;)

$50 credit with Lyft:
$10 credit with Uber:

4. Hop through coworking / coliving spaces to network with locals.

If your goal is to meet people, a great way is to stay a week in different coliving and coworking spaces. The locals entrepreneurs all congregate around these “coworking hostels”, and you can get invited to the “insider events” and activities by being around the action.

Some examples of coliving spaces in San Francisco are:

  • StartupHouse
  • Embassy SF
  • Open Door
  • Saddle House SF
  • Chez JJ SF

And there’s probably way more. (But maybe book a hotel in between your moves to recalibrate.)

I’m writing this because I’ve received so much help from everyone in the startup community both in Sydney and San Francisco, and have made many faux pas along the way. Thank you to all the mentors and friends that have helped me along this rollercoaster journey, and I hope that another person might find this useful.

If you’re in San Francisco in the next two months, shoot out a hello to me at! Otherwise, I’ll see you back in Sydney in June 2016. :)

P.S. book your trip to Alcatraz early. That stuff books out quick. Especially the night tours — you’ll need to book that months in advance.

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