Everything was right that it was an overwhelming experience at Palo Alto
My first attempt to write about the series of startups that I have associated myself with. This particular post relates to the startup that I had cofounded with 2 others in Palo Alto that turned out to be another great teacher. After 6 startups in 5 different countries I have understood that people tend to oversell their urge to be working on products when in reality it’s all about the fame /money and I agree that I have also thought about it but may be far lesser than the others whom I have met.
Am highlighting again that this is my first attempt and I have 6 other attempts left to make it better :D
I was in Singapore with a medium sized startup that was setting it’s footprint in mobile app development for clients. In December 2013, after a few heavy mistakes made in the previous years, I had decided not to step into the risky ecosystem again [after a handful of startups]. When the final week of 2013 buzzed in, I wanted a new beginning of my own. I began to research on the teams I would like to associate myself with or in short to give my best shot. I read a lot of articles and scouted the web to identify what interests me. After weeks of hunting, I found a German and a Mexican-American looking out for a 3rd teammate on a product idea that looks tempting to code. It’s the new beginning that I was looking for.
PS: There are a million other brilliant ideas in the world and the failure rate of these are higher in terms of money but not in terms of it’s use case.
The second month of the year was filled with introductory mails and exchanging ideas. The valentine’s day in a couple of weeks looked bright because I am looking at a date with this product. This is where coders or programmers tend to be happy and I can not be blamed. By the end of the first week I realised that there is another wonderful side to this team, the head office will be set up in Palo Alto. I was excited and yes the money I made from other startups isn’t sufficient enough to live in one of the most expensive city but I never cared for money. If you have the will, you tend to find the way. After all, survival is taught well in my country — India. We Indians have a lot of pride about our country and it comes with reality checks. The reason why Indians take up jobs and win over PR’s or citizens of any country is because we adapt to the worst situation and are highly optimistic.
Throw us down Mt. Everest and if we are alive after the fall, we calm ourselves down by continuously stating “Something worse could have happened, we were lucky”. Don’t mistake it for the Government’s role, we are one among the wealthiest nations in the world and immediately after reading this we have to put up with one of the most disappointing city infrastructures. Then again “Things could have been worse, we are lucky”.
By the end of the month, we the 3 co founders decided to work together. It’s a new start and it’s an exciting one.
I could detail on the months between March and June but that will be an overkill. Let me just say that I spoke to all of them who were associated with the Palo Alto startup and it just felt right. The trouble I faced was to get the VISA sorted as any other Indian would have. I had a good memory of the previous rejection stamp on the VISA application form.
July — December 31, 2014
As much as it excites to revisit the days in Palo Alto, it hurts that I missed out the opportunity to navigate it in the direction that would have impacted the right amount in everyone’s smart phone. I was 27 when the incorporation was signed but now am 30 and the world looks way different from what I believed it would be by now. Hmm it’s not going to be easy to avoid typing about certain errors that I made but then Day 1 in the land where technology breeds is the highlight of my startup journey. The drive from the airport to the house in Palo Alto gave me the good vibe as we crossed properties owned by big names in the digital world.
A 3 bedroom house that has crossed the retirement age with a backyard, located near our office in University Avenue. Now this is the city I think is apt : calm, quiet and filled with smart minds in every cafe in the street & also the Stanford University adds charm to the environment. To sustain the expenses while in Palo Alto, the house was Airbnb’d and we lived in a shed in the backyard with a questionable roof, ate quite cheap, shopped even cheaper but focused on the feature rich product. This is the kind of life that we see in the movies with an overnight turn around of events, most likely a song sequence would have fixed all the troubles the hero had to face and that too in a larger than life fashion but I do not sing well. Hmmm, that never happened here, the major boost was the caffeine. When the stress creeps in, I take a walk along the streets to recharge my self imposed optimism.
The nights became longer, music helped in keeping thoughts in a single package and the constant complaints from our neighbour about the “parties” that we never had. The early mornings and evenings were the best, the streets always had a story to say. The chapters of human race that these asphalt roads have seen are that of the birth of HP to the recent Facebook. Stanford University road reminds you about the various articles you have read about the pirates of the digital world.
The days in Palo Alto began with the count down of the number of days I can stay in the city regulated by the VISA stamp.
They called it the American Dream
This is my 6th startup in 5 countries, so the realisation goes beyond the location. Now everything was going right for the team.
- Founders from different continents
- Funded and accelerated by one of the best
- The will to work
I was high [adrenaline] and every day after a couple of hours of sleep or power naps, I look at the roof and pray “Don’t fall on me”. The roof never failed me and neither did the weather. I was ecstatic in being able to find the right team and the correct mind set. I had calls from friends in India and every other country I have been, wishing me luck but I could sense half of them feeling that my bank account must be loaded with dollars. Why not! 5 different countries and 6 startups. My expenses on coffee was higher than my phone bills. The best learning was that anybody can live cheap in one of the most expensive city without much trouble and that means “you must not complain”.
Was lucky to meet the humans who are the internet world risk takers: Siri / Youtube / Microsoft / Apple. The happy moment is when you learn why they are doing better in terms of products.
There is more to write but I need to go and get myself a good coffee :)
…To be continued…..