Fast Track Team Hits San Francisco
As you might have seen on our social channels, we just finished up a marathon week in San Francisco. The week was packed with meetings, networking events, and lectures, with the centre of activities revolving around the local Launch Festival and Conference.
Launch is fascinating in itself, being the world's biggest startup event. A lot of inspiration and good lessons were gathered there.
First, as you enter, you bump into various companies pitching their products in the exhibition area. The Demo pit area was comprised of selected young companies that had under $2m in funding and were under three years old. Their fields of expertise ranged from AI, photography, social media to hardware, and the purpose of this setting was for the companies to meet with customers, investors and the press at their tables. Several chosen companies were then given slots on stage, dedicated to pitching and possible awards.
The dynamic atmosphere of the conference too presented a great opportunity for Fast Track startups to pitch their products and capture the attention of attendees.
But Launch is not merely about networking and pitching. Also, it's filled with important discussions. Spread across three stages - Scale Stage, Ask Me Anything Stage, and Launch Stage - Launch's discussions aim to inspire and educate. There was so much to see!
Launch stage was mostly focussed on influencers, and included panels consisting of VCs, Angels and Accelerators (we were energised, took notes and Tweeted madly!) . Including speakers from 500 Startups, PowerHouse and StartX, the Accelerator Panel offered relevant takeways. One of them was the note on the rise of startup ecosystems outside San Francisco. Whilst access to funding, mentor networks and technology are undeniably excellent in the Bay Area, the living cost is rising steeply, turning many startups away from the idea of starting their business in San Francisco. Working on improving Malmö's position on the global startup map, this inspired us even more to establish Malmö as one of these hotspots for startups.
Led by industry experts, Scale Stage offered valuable tips on how to grow a business. 'Iterate on that idea until you can't anymore' is one of Pinterest's core values for growth, said Casey Winters, Pinterest's Growth Lead. Craig Zingerline of VotionApp gave a word of warning against fast assumptions about growth: 'Don't just assume that particular channels are going to work and that people are going to install the app'. As we know, this is hard work. Meanwhile, Jake Knapp of Google Ventures emphasised how vital design research approaches like video ethnography are to creating truly user-oriented products.
Ask Me Anything stage touched upon the issues of design, user experience and innovation, triggering the attention of many, including our friend Martin (of Bit4M) and the Learner team. Check our Instagram and Twitter for more live updates.
That wasn't all! We also had a chance to travel down to the Valley and visit our friends at Nordic Innovation House. If you're a Nordic company and are thinking of starting your business in the United States, then the Innovation House is a good place to start, given its links to local mentors, investors and office space. We had fun visiting their office in Palo Alto, as well as attending a Nordic networking event at a San Francisco rooftop venue (Galvanize office, to be exact).
Work is also about play. Below are some snaps of what we did outside Launch :) This trip was truly something unique. Great memories.
And you, dear reader, have you ever visited Launch or San Francisco? What were your impressions? Let us know your comments, would love to hear about this!
Thanks and hope we can connect on social channels for updates,
Eva of FTM