Avocode at 500 Startups; Week #4: Yosemite Trippin'

On Monday we had a pleasant lunch at Shezan.

Within lunch hours this restaurants doesn’t wait tables, it has a buffet which was nice for a change. If you like spicy, be sure to check this place out.

During the day I compiled a new Sketch tips video. Martin pushed our legal matters a few steps closer to closing the investment.

In the evening, after playing some ping pong in the office, we headed home to cook a dinner. As we were cooking we also turned on the dryer. Together the heat and steam set the fire alarm on. This American safety standards will take some time to get used to…

On Tuesday we attended a PR presentation at the 500 office.

Kelsey Cullen gave us some nice insights on dealing with the press. Here is what I took down:

How to approach writers?

  • Always make sure you know why you’re approaching them.
    Why this exact person?
    Why this company?
    What medium?
    What are you trying to get from this? (+ What can they get out of this?) = In other words make your story stick.
  • Don’t stalk the writers. Be genuine, do your homework and interact with them on Twitter.
  • Invite them to talk in person over a meal.

Say, you already have an interview. Congrats. Now prep for Q’s like:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What made you start your company?
  • Numbers of users? User Life Time Value? Growth? The usual #…

If you don’t have the right answer, just promise to find out soon and get back to the interviewer.

Later that day, there was a Mentor Mingle meet-up in the main hall.

We met some new people from our batch and also played Four Square (a ball game, not the app). I don’t think we have such a thing in the Czech Republic.

Here’s how you play it:

The pitch is a square divided into four parts. There is one person in each one square. Take a rubber ball and bounce it around next to the other players, until someone screws up and is kicked out. As you eliminate other players you move around the court to the highest number (4) and try to stay there as long as possible. Once someone is kicked out, the place is filled by a new player. It’s pretty fun (especially with beer).

If you want, you can check out the rules for Four Square here.

The next day we went to San Francisco.

We took an UBER to the train station and then commuted with the Caltrain.

Mountain View train stop.

After our arrival we met with Lenka Kučerová, the former Chief Engager of Startup Yard. Startup Yard is a Central Europe’s leading pre-seed tech accelerator, where our team spent some time, long before launching Avocode.

Lenka picked a cool spot called Garaje.

Then we went to the Mixpanel Office hours. This event is great.

Each month, they open their door to talk to their customers about business strategies, big data, product and workflow problems in person.

As eager users of Mixpanel we enjoyed the great talk about data science with guys from Twitch and got the most out of a private consultation with Cassie from Mixpanel staff.

Some insights:

  • For analysing teams instead of users you can:
    a) create new Mixpanel profile/instance just for teams (team=people);
    b) use JQL for creating a custom queries merging people into teams
  • Use the user properties just for the most recent thing you want to track.
  • Use the events instead of user properties if you want to keep the data.
  • Track what events use premium users most often and compare it with the ones free users use most often to find out what makes users active.

When we felt like our brains are satisfied, it was time to fill our bellies. We bought a kebab and ate it on the way to the sea side.

A part of the San Francisco skyline.

Then we took the train back and found out that San Jose Sharks (with our very favorite Tomáš Hertl) just became the Conference champs by beating St. Louis Blues 5:2. This means that Sharks made it to the NHL finals for the first time ever. The tickets for Stanley Cup were sold out in like a minute so we at least signed ourselves up on the waiting list.

On Thursday we started preparations for our weekend trip to Yosemite.

After leaving the office we bought a lot of food, a tent, blankets, mattresses, food box — the essentials for an American trip. During our way to Walmart, Martin was texting and hit the water hydrant with his leg which created a nice colorful abstract bruise on his thigh (for some time he’s been planning to get some abstract tattoo, so maybe this will do…).

Look what new department we discovered in Walmart!

Next day we slept in a little.

Then we packed all of our stuff into Ken’s (our friend from TravelFlan) car and along with three other cars (12 people in total) we set out on a 2 hours long drive to Yosemite.

Ken gave Martin the wheel.
The 2 hours turned out to be more like 6ish.
We arrived at a campsite near the National Park.

We set up our tents, built a fire, grilled burgers and ate all sorts of things the rest of the gang brought. We might have underestimate the American shopping list — some people bought, gallons of coke and sweet soda, potato mash in powder, frozen strawberry Pop Tarts, frozen bakes and some other US dainties. Yuk!

In the evening we also played Mafia. It was really fun — turns out, that after a few beers, people start to be all psychological about it.

On Saturday, I woke up by killing a mosquito who was just tasting my still alcohol thinned blood.

Once fresh enough to drive, we left the camp and drove to the Yosemite entrance point. There was a super-long queue so after some deciding we gave it up. Instead of the actual Yosemite we settled for the park surroundings and visited a quite nice watterfals area.

A funny/scary thing happened there. As we were relaxing on a rock close to one waterfall, Ken suddenly tripped, slipped and fell into the white water.

I was just shooting on a GoPro, when Ken suddenly fell into the water.

Luckily Stephen from Visiblee gave Ken a hand and pulled him up.

In the late afternoon we drove back to the same campsite where we stayed yesterday.

On Sunday we wanted to go on another trip to Yosemite, but…

… we got unlucky again. Doug (from Linkett) broke his car key. Obviously we didn't want to leave him behnd, so Ken took him to the nearest city to get the key repaired.

The rest of us went for a swim to a lake nearby.

When we joined the guys back at the camp we found out, that they key couldn’t be fixed and Doug had to call a towing service.

So, nope we haven't seen the El Capitan.

And pretty much nothing from Yosemite. Maybe it’s not the best place to go for a weekend trip, since it happens to be the fourth most visited National Park in the country. But still it was a fun trip.

Due to the car trouble, we came home late at night, where we found Vu, Petr, Tomáš and Matt who flew in on Sunday.

Instead of describing on my own how their trip was like, it's better to let them tell you.

Read their story here.

Since Matt is already back, I’m passing the mic back onto him.

Bolek out. 🎤💥

Avocode at 500 Startups

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Matouš Roskovec

Written by

Creative Lead @Avocode, 500 Startups alumni, ex-Content Strategist @SignalsNetwork, marketing strategy consultant, wannabe chef, addicted to Netflix.

Avocode at 500 Startups

What is it like to be a part of 500 Startups? Get the first hand cover. Follow our stories!

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