Robolink Goes to San Francisco: Week 1
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
- Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People
We’re finally here in San Francisco! It’s been an arduous journey, full of moving boxes, logistics, and long hours of driving, but Hansol and I are at last somewhat settled in, and we’re on Week 1, Day 3 of the HAX Boost program. We’ve had a chance to meet all the other startups in our cohort, attend orientation, got a few free delicious meals, and are now well on our way into the program.
The HAX Boost facilities
The HAX Boost work space is located in San Francisco’s SoMa district, which stands for South of Market, a major street that bisects downtown San Francisco. Major cities in the US have a tendency to make catchy abbreviated names: SoHo, Dumbo, and TriBeCa in New York City, LoDo in Denver and Seattle—it’s weird. Of course, San Francisco is no exception. There’s SoMa, NoPa (North of Panhandle), and of course Tenderloin + Nob Hill equals TenderNob (ew?).
But I digress!
HAX Boost is a program under the VC firm SOSV, which has several global accelerators under its umbrella. In this particular office, it includes HAX Boost, the hardware accelerator we’re in, and IndieBio SF, a synthetic biology accelerator.
Here are some shots of where we’ll be working for the next 6 weeks. It’s pretty awesome!
Here’s a shot of the main workspace, where the cohort of startups’ desks are located.
This is the front of the office, which features an open lounge area, and an under-construction storefront, where the HAX Boost alum’s products are on display.
Next to the main working area are the products of the current hardware startups. Rokit Smart and CoDrone are featured right in the middle!
Arguably the most important part for me personally: the basement kitchen.
What we’re learning this week
This week, we’re focusing on getting the folks at HAX up to speed on where we are as a company, so we can polish the story that we tell to retailers and link up with appropriate mentors. At our orientation, we went through an overview of what the schedule will encompass and a high-level overview of the resources available to us. We’ll be meeting with important people and industry leaders throughout the course of the program, such as experts in marketing, retail, sales, and other HAX alums. We also did a self-introduction by each of the startups in the cohort—many of which are working on some really neat stuff, such as Diabeto, which tracks diabetes stats using your phone’s data connection; Galaxy ZEGA, a mobile and remote control tank game that’s currently in Apple Stores in China; and iBaby, which is a child-monitoring system that is currently selling in Babies “R” Us.
The program director, Kate Whitcomb, briefed us on the inside-scoop of how the retail process works. She has an extensive background in the buyer and retail world, having been both a buyer as well as served as the Growth & Innovation Lead in the IoT (Internet of Things) team. Understanding the standard industry process, what things to look out for, learning the lingo, and seeing the decision making process from a buyer’s perspective will be helpful as we make our foray into the retail space.
We also rehearsed a 2-minute pitch, which is a time boxed pitch where we attempt to pitch our product to either a customer, retail buyer, or investor. While it didn’t go poorly, looks like we’ve got areas for improvement and refining to do before the story and pacing is truly compelling. It’s exciting, because in addition to all the meetings we’ll be having, with HAX’s connections, investors and retailers are always coming by their office to check out what things they’re working on. So there’ll be plenty of opportunities to perfect our pitch.
TLI (today I learned) in San Francisco
Here are some quick things we’ve learned since being in San Francisco.
- People name-drop startups, tech companies, and tech events like it’s common knowledge
- It’s a very dense city, so time and space warps: it takes much longer to travel shorter distances.
- Biking can often get you around faster than driving, public transit, or Uber/Lyft.
- The work culture is casual, so people often work very hard, but know how to take it easy
- The autumn months are when the famous fog clears and the sky is clearest
- The Uber/Lyft culture is incredibly strong here
That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next week with Robolink goes to SF: Week 2! Stay tuned, and don’t forget to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up with our adventure.