Last week of February, we spent at Startup Grind Global Annual Conference, in Silicon Valley. There are very few times when you feel that one week propelled you months ahead in your journey. That week was exactly like that. We were selected as part of 50 companies’ cohort, out of 1100 applicants from 80 countries. It was not only an honor but also a privilege to be among who-is-who of Silicon Valley.
We reached CA on a beautiful Monday morning where we got introduced to Startup Grind founding team. We were impressed by how humble Startup grind team was. Derek and Td did an amazing job in making us feel like part of their team. Throughout the week, the team made sure that we got all the help we needed. It’s truly a remarkable organization. We were matched with a pitch coach. Our coach Nisha was sweet and strong. We were in a group of 6 companies and pitched in front of other companies. For Cirkled in™ we completed the circle and after four iterations, came back to our original pitch with our personal story. Lesson learned was that nothing communicates passion better than your own personal experience with the pain you are solving for the market. Evening was a VIP mixer for all the companies and speakers. We connected with many fellow companies and entrepreneurs.
Next day was the D-day for us. We, along with 21 other companies exhibited in the middle of a huge venue. The day started with a key note speaker – Guy Kawasaki. He was a treat! I have always admired him. His book, “The Art of the Start” was the first one that I read on entrepreneurship. He talked about top 10 mistakes entrepreneurs make during their journey. Of course we are guilty of some of them. Next up on the stage was Steve Blank – our friend who interviewed us on his radio show and wrote a blog post on Cirkled in™ on Huffington Post. I can hear him talk all day long. Steve has so much wisdom that it exudes from him. After that, three different tracks of events started and we got busy at our booth. There were 3000 attendees in this conference and I think we may have spoken to as many as few hundred people on our table. In addition, Startup Grind team got us few meetings with local investors. Later in the day, we listened to Vinod Khosla, Stewart Butterfield and many more. All day we were drinking from a fire hose. It was an amazing day! But it wasn’t over yet. The event continued with an After Party in the evening with a DJ and dance floor. It was a blast. For those few hours, being an entrepreneur was the best thing in the world.
Last day of the conference, we were tired but enthusiasm was no less. And how can it be, when you are 50 feet from Clayton Christianson, a legend and Marc Andreessen. Day was packed with tons of great speakers one after another. Day ended with a fire side chat with Steven Chen, Co-founder of YouTube. One thing we found throughout the conference that all successful entrepreneurs are very normal people like you and me. It’s what is in their head and heart that makes them successful and sets them apart. We left inspired and motivated to bring an offering to literally billions of students all over the world and truly make a difference.
I felt like a kid in Disney Land where all my idols and role models came to life. From Guy Kawasaki – to whom I had written a letter many years ago but never mailed, to Steve Blank – whose teachings have been a Bible for Cirkled in™, to Vinod Khosla – an admirable person from my country of origin, to Clayton Christiansen – who I went to meet in Boston but couldn’t but finally met during this week.
It was out of the world experience, not only for me an as entrepreneur but also for our company Cirkled in™. We made some really good connections. But most importantly we feel we have built a bond with Startup Grind team. Now we feel “We have friends in the Startup Business”.