We've got to get smarter

Bruce Walker, founder of entrepreneurship organisation WeAreTheFuture, talks about learning from Silicon Valley's leaders.

In late April, our team made our annual trip to Silicon Valley, with a group of UK based technology entrepreneurs to take part in the Silicon Valley Accelerate (SVA) Programme.

SVA is a 5 day leadership programme that our team designed, where we work with the best emerging tech entrepreneurs from the UK and give them unique access inside some of Silicon Valley's most innovative and successful businesses as well as insight from the leaders who are helping shape and build multi-billion dollar technology companies.

This year the programme included sessions with 500 Startups, Rocketspace, YC, Pivotal, WSGR, TechDirt, DFJ Ventures, Google and Waze, Cagan McAfee Capital, Ebay and Silicon Valley Bank.

So what are my key takeaways from the week?

1. It's always great to get a refresh of what’s going on in Silicon Valley. All the major tech trends start in the valley and then eventually make their away here months or sometimes years later.

2. Is it a bubble? This question has come up every year and for the first time I heard people say that if there 'was' a bubble then it's already been 'corrected'. Valuations are coming down, it's becoming harder to raise money beyond series C and investment from 2015 - 2016 was down by around 15-20%. In many folks eyes, the market has corrected itself. For me, the jury is still out.

3. You need to get smarter and faster. We had a masterclass from Google and Waze who spoke about Google's acquisition of Waze in 2013 and the way they are using user curated data to produce real time traffic solutions - speed and efficiency is everything. They spoke about how they are using a new techniques to gauge advert traction and how every decision is data led. Pivotal Labs (which has helped build the early tech for almost every tech giant in Silicon Valley) spoke about the updated agile innovation process which puts users first, as well as building an MVP that incorporates, 'Fesible, Valuable, Usable and Delight' rather than just 'Fesible'.

4. "Control your cap table!" - Eric McAfee, Cagan McAfee Capital ($4B networth). Our team got to spend over an hour with Eric McAfee the Founder of Cagan McAfee Capital who has personally raised $800M for his own companies that include investments from Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson. Eric spoke clearly about the importance for founders to control their Cap Table and the moment they lose control, they should ask their investors for a pay rise, because they no longer run the company they founded.

5. Buy a plane ticket. It was emphasised again and again that you need to get on the plane more often - if you want to build a global business, then you need to understand international markets, meet potential customers, investors and business development partners.

If you want to join us on the next SVA Leaders Programme then contact joanna@wearethefuture.org.uk

Bruce's story was originally published on his very own blog.