On the third day of the Silicon Summit, the Dutch startups visited some renowned Silicon Valley companies. Mozilla was the first company to welcome the entrepreneurs. Pascal Finette, Director of Mozilla Labs, inspired the audience for the rest of the day.
“We believe it’s important to change the internet for the good. Internet is too important to leave it up to a bunch of big commercial companies. We don’t want to live in that world. So there is no profit-model, but we’ll still fight dirty. In the end, nobody cares about being a gentlemen, so why should you? You have nothing to lose, especially when you’re fighting the ‘bad’ guys.”
Next on the program was a short stop at the Google sculpture standing right in front of Google HQ. After many pictures had been taken, the bus traveled on to Stanford University. At Stanford, the group found that there are many Dutch students, PhDs and researchers studying or working at this world-leading knowledge institution. The Dutch saying that you will find Dutch people everywhere, might just be true.
One of the major highlights of the day was a visit to Flipboard – one of the most popular applications on the iPad. Chosen as Apple’s ‘App of the Year’ in 2010, and harvesting over 60 million US dollars in two investment rounds only one and a half years after launching, Flipboard has a very bright future ahead.
The co-owner and CTO of Flipboard is Arthur van Hoff. The Dutchman explained his application and business model patiently to his audience, answering many questions afterwards. The group was visibly amazed by possibly the most successful Dutch entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, and returned home feeling inspired.
Thursday night was the night all the participants had been waiting for all week. Returning back to the place the 2011 Silicon Summit had begun: Fenwick & West in Mountain View.
The conference room had undergone a true makeover. Tables and chairs were put aside and instead of early-morning coffee, the guests were served Heineken, Holland’s world-famous beer.
Like at the pitch event in RocketSpace on Tuesday, the Dutch entrepreneurs again tried to persuade their audience to look deeper into their company. The training given by Beth Suzanne and Chris Gill clearly showed results, with most of the participants giving very good pitches.
Cheered for their presentations, the night was brought to an end after the last pitch by Genalice. Bart van Bolhuis, Consul General of the Dutch Consulate in SF, gave the closing speech of the night. During his speech, Mr. Van Bolhuis officially introduced the Holland in the Valley network, designed to link Dutch entrepreneurs to successful Dutch business people in Silicon Valley. The network has a new website as well as a LinkedIn Group to keep all connected and informed.
October 25th, 2011 by Frans van Gosliga
SiliconValleyWatcher Tom Foremski interviewed Silicon Summit participants Bart Verhulst and Sébastien Willems of PressPage.
Foremski mentions that today, the majority of online corporate newsrooms offer very little in terms of social media features, they haven’t changed much since the early days of the Internet and that PressPage offers templates that quickly convert newsroom content into a format that integrates photos from Flickr, Tweets, video, Facebook, and more. The newsroom can also act as a social media monitoring dashboard because it captures content from many streams and brings it back to one page.
The full article is available on the SiliconValleyWatcher website.
October 21st, 2011 by Frans van Gosliga
This evening the Silicon Summit will come to a conclusion with a networking and pitching event at Fenwick & West in Mountain View. All sixteen companies will present themselves in two minute pitches. Several potential partners and investors have been invited and plenty of time has been reserved for networking.
For more information about the Home Run Night event and how to attend, visit our Eventbrite page. Tickets are limited!
October 20th, 2011 by Frans van Gosliga
Not quite as early as yesterday, but still early, the second day of the Silicon Summit 2011 kicked off with as much enthusiasm as the first. Kensington Park Hotel in downtown San Francisco was the venue to host the Dutch today.
The day started off with discussions on two serious topics: tax and immigration. Frank van Hulsen, Executive Director of the Dutch Desk for International Tax Services at Ernst & Young, was first up. He started with a strong statement: “The US tax system might be one of the worst in the world. It’s complicated, different in every state, and rates for companies aren’t particularly low.”
Still, Mr. Van Hulsen warnings did not discourage the participants. Next up was Ronald R. Rose, founding partner of Rose Carson Kaplan Choi & White LLP. addressing the topic of immigration.
That topic could also discourage Dutch entrepreneurs wanting to come to the United States. Fortunately, it did not. Mr. Rose described the different types of visas available and elaborated on the ones most suitable for entrepreneurs.
So what does the American government like to see you do? Put plainly, create jobs for Americans. Mr. Rose emphasized this strongly: “The immigration offices will be very skeptical. As a Dutch entrepreneur, you’ll have to show your five year business plan which has to cover a lot of questions to which you might not even know the answer. Most important of all is the question of whether or not you’re going to create US jobs and employ Americans.”
Ella van Gool, Senior Vice President at Square1 Bank, was next in line to educate the curious Dutch. Ms. Van Gool spoke about angels and venture capital. Angels, in her opinion, can be quite high maintenance. Furthermore, Ms. Van Gool tried to make sure the Dutch won’t wear pink shirts while pitching, and told them a deal is only a deal once the money is deposited in the company’s account.
After lunch, the group divided into to and went on to get an intensive pitch training, led by Beth Suzanne of Visions in Focus and Chris Gill of SVASE. They guided the groups through all the important tips and tricks to know when you’re pitching your idea.
The training continued through the whole afternoon, in preparation for the pitch event at RocketSpace.
Having arrived at RocketSpace, the Dutch group found themselves in front of a large audience. Facing a three-man panel of experts, all the startups delivered great pitches, especially considering the fact it was their first time pitching to a US audience.
The event closed with loud applause and enthusiasm from the audience, followed by a reception with beer and Dutch snacks and cheese. The top companies from tonight’s event will pitch again on Thursday, October 20th at Fennwick & West in Mountain View. Register here to join us for this event, and check back here for more updates soon.
October 19th, 2011 by Frans van Gosliga
Today marked the beginning of the third annual Silicon Summit, an initiative of the Dutch Consulate General in San Francisco. No less than sixteen Dutch internet, high- and biotech startups have been invited to join.
Day one aimed for an intense though smooth introduction of the Dutch entrepreneurs to the ‘eco-system’ of Silicon Valley. Being welcomed by Bart van Bolhuis, the Consul General, the group took their seats in the magnificent office of Fenwick & West in Mountain View.
Russel Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, was the first speaker on the menu. He focused firstly on what Silicon Valley is not, and went on to elaborate on the many things Silicon Valley might just be. One thing the Dutch immediately learned is that Silicon Valley doesn’t have one clear definition, or a clear way of defining itself for that matter.
Nonetheless, Mr. Hancock ensured his audience that Silicon Valley has been on top for decades, and is here to stay: “In between all the lift-offs Silicon Valley had during the past decades, people would say the magic has died. But during those recessions new opportunities and new companies will rise, and we’ll start over again. It’s something you can’t forecast, it always catches you by surprise, but it will happen, again and again.”
Next up was Steve Blank, consulting Professor at Stanford University and a serial entrepreneur himself. He took the Dutch on a trip through his experiences with business development and customer relations.
His number one lesson was that the goal of a startup is to not be a startup anymore: “There is no such thing as a twelve year old startup. That would be a ten year old failure, and a two year old start up.”
After listening to Ralph Pais, partner at Fenwick and West, the group went on to have lunch. Not being used to the wonderful California weather, but rather to the Netherlands’ grey skies and rain showers, many of the participants chose to sit outside in the sun.
After a double presentation on public relations by Carmen Hughes of Ignite PR and Ellen Leanse of Eastwick Communications, Dean (Kip) Witter III was next to take the speaker’s seat. Accompanied by many slides, he took his audience on an extensive trip through all the conditions you will have to deal with when hunting for investment.
Peter Darling was the last speaker of the first day. Mister Darling emphasized the importance of good marketing and sales. Sharing his knowledge and many years of entrepreneurial experience with the group, he simultaneously managed to get some laughs.
Mister Darling told the starters that mistakes will be made, but as long as you stay ‘above the waterline,’ you’ll be fine: “As a starter you are going to make every single mistake possible. The trick is not to make the same mistake twice, and recovery is way more important than trying to prevent the mistake. Admit your mistake, and fix it. That’s where you prove what you are worth, and that’s how you built a lasting relationship with your customers.”
An international panel of entrepreneurs closed the first day of the Silicon Summit 2011. Neal Blaak, Ronald Mannak, Alfonso de la Nuez and Melvin Tercan were hosted by Anne Donker. They shared their experiences by taking questions from the audience continuously. There was a lot of talk about investments, hiring and other costs of doing business in the Valley, on the way collecting many brilliant quotes. Among those was this one from Mr. De la Nuez: “Money moves money, references are everything in Silicon Valley”.
The second day of the Silicon Summit will deal with topics such as tax, immigration and the things Angels and VC’s want to know. Pitch training will keep the Dutch busy in the afternoon after which they will present themselves and pitch their plans in front of a three man strong panel.
Be sure to join the Silicon Summit 2011 Pitch Event, starting 6:00 PM tomorrow, at RocketSpace, 181 Fremont Street, San Francisco. More info and registrations here.
October 17th, 2011 by Frans van Gosliga