3 lessons from Silicon Valley

Margot Watine
Oct 26, 2018 · 4 min read

Weather in Paris can now confirm: summer’s over… which eventually means “Time to think about what I’m doing with my life”.

For so long we’ve done what we were told: go to school, try to get good grades, make it to the year above and the one after that, graduate from High School to finally complete higher education. And then? Plan is to find a job, get (another?) super academic master’s degree..? What about saying NO to this plan and do something else? Create your own job, your own rules.

Yes, I’m telling you to become an “entrepreneur”. Over the last few years, we’ve all met someone who had taken the risk and became his own boss. People do it at every age, old and young, business and sales persons, engineers and developers, students and young graduates, women and men: everyone has a chance. But being an entrepreneur is not dreaming about being CEO of a unicorn, it’s about having the right mindset, the energy and the determination to become one, about listening to people, understanding their needs, & about the willingness to go through ‘lows’ in order to reach ‘highs’.

The question is: how bad do you want it? What can you do about it? What’s missing for you to become a successful entrepreneur?

At Schoolab, we foster innovation and entrepreneurship, which is why we connect students with Paris and Silicon Valley via Le Bridge program — a program for 21 to 28 years-old graduates and graduate students. But why send you to Silicon Valley? What is so special about the Bay Area? Two weeks ago, I went to San Francisco, and here are the first three lessons I came back with:

1. All about the mindset

First question. Why do you want to launch your start-up? Think. What is the ultimate reason? Is it the thrill of it? Your risk-taking personality? Your love for challenges? Or is it your admiration for the big names? Great if your biggest dream is to follow Jeff Bezos’s footsteps, but are you willing to go through the emotional rollercoaster that goes with it?

Pursuit of happyness — Will Smith

Entrepreneurship isn’t all rest — it’s a lifestyle. What’s your mindset about it? Silicon Valley has something to teach us all. If you want something, you can get it, you just need to want it bad enough. During my stay, I attended a lecture at UC Berkeley given by an alumnus, the co-founder of GoGoVan: first Hong Kong Unicorn.

“When I left for California from Hong Kong, I told my dad I wouldn’t come back… It wasn’t a joke, I literally only had a one-way ticket and $200 in my pocket: not enough to even think about coming back”

Thanks to his dedication, determination and energy, he found a way to innovate, took advantage of an opportunity he saw, started being an entrepreneur, and managed to pay for his tuitions fees. Mindset is important.

2. Failure is ok

My first Friday there I spent it as a UC Berkeley student. I went to entrepreneurship classes, shadowing Le Bridge students. The Entrepreneurship class starts at 8am: every group present their ideas/projects in order to not only get feedback from their teacher Ken Singer but also from their peers. In total they have 4 months to form a team, find an idea, become experts about the market, get insights, pitch to 42 developers, prototype, validate, find clients, and finally pitch it the day before graduation to a panel of teachers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalist, business angels, incubators, students… ‘4 months’ goes fast but it’s fine because they’re all fast learners, fast thinkers, and most importantly, they are all “doers”.

How do they do that? They jump in, they don’t hesitate. How? They’re not afraid of failure. Failing is ok. Silicon Valley does not teach you that failure is great, it teaches you that the learnings you get from failure are great. Every time you fail at something, you learn. And the earlier you fail, the earlier you learn, the faster you succeed.

3. Network is key

When asked about the early beginnings of Facebook, Zuckeberg mentioned two things: the “thing” he was building on the side for Harvard students and his many conversations he had with his friends at university.

“I just spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends, they were studying computer science, psychology, the things I studied, other stuff, and we just spent a lot of time talking about what we thought were the big issues with the world and how the world was going to change over next 5, 10, 20 years and a lot of cool stuff has come out of college conversations.”

Studying at a University such as UC Berkeley offers you this chance of meeting amazing fellow students who may enlighten you on some subjects and help you find your next start-up idea, or co-founder, while also giving you the chance of being surrounded by entrepreneurs and experts in innovation.

If you want to launch your start-up, in Paris or in San Francisco, if you want to learn from the best in the world, if you wish to develop your professional and personal skills such as empathy or if you want to build up an international network, then Le Bridge program is for you:

What is Le Bridge exactly?

  • 4 months at UC Berkeley to find your team, launch your startup and start building your network
  • 9 months at Schoolab Paris or Schoolab San Francisco to scale your venture

ALSO (and final point!), UC BERKELEY is coming to Paris on November 19th. Don’t miss out, check out the event and book your (free) spot now: Eventbrite / Facebook


Histoires, cas d'école & bonnes pratiques

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