The Magic of Silicon Valley
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 8:54PM
Michelle Messina

This year, the fall season in Silicon Valley is not about harvesting crops.   It’s about planting seeds, seed funding and seed rounds.   September through mid-November typically represent a full schedule of conferences, events, meet-ups and networking opportunities.  This fall is clearly different than past seasons.   Within the past 60 days, we’ve seen startup delegations from Brazil, Korea, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Australia, Mexico, Chile and elsewhere, all arriving to visit, understand and connect with Silicon Valley.  And more are coming.

Silicon Valley is one of the most impressive innovation ecosystems in the world, a unique configuration of entrepreneurs, investment capital, supporting partners, and customer opportunities.  Venture capital investments are up, IPO’s are up, SBIR/STTR grants are up, office vacancies are low, and unemployment continues to stay below the US national average.  Yet on the surface it might appear as simply a configuration of big and small players.   If you look past people, partners and players in the ecosystem, there is a distinct set of values super imposed over this network, those of trust, openness and transparency, and collaboration. 

We’re bullish on execution, possess unending optimism, and openly talk about how much cash a company has left.  We’re more comfortable with risk and failure and know it’s an inevitable part of the process.  We celebrate diversity because it’s both our heritage and our future, and we have a tendency to think big and build global, from the start.  Go big.  Or go home.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise worldwide.  It stands to reason that the global economic crisis has been a big contributing factor in the increase of entrepreneurs, governments, incubators, and journalists studying the fabric of Silicon Valley and how to both adopt and adapt its best practices.  Ideas now move faster than ever too.  Social media, and its effect on the Arab Spring, is an excellent recent example of how ideas can quickly spread across the globe.  The drive to create more entrepreneurs and startups has given rise to an unprecedented increase in startup competitions around the world--many with cash prizes, corporate and government acceleration programs, training boot camps, meet ups, entrepreneurs- as-investors, and many more sources for seed capital.

However, amidst all the hype and activity, one thing is crystal clear—this ecosystem exists because of risk-taking entrepreneurs and we’re here to support them. The entrepreneur leads and everyone else follows. 

Join me during the coming months as we look at the remarkable interplay between people, culture and environment that defines Silicon Valley, a region renowned for creating and growing a new startup every day and home to the worlds’ most successful corporations; the magic that is Silicon Valley.

I will look at the role universities play in the ecosystem, not just in teaching entrepreneurship or graduating engineers or scientists, but how they support students and graduates with accelerator facilities.  

The venture business has changed since its inception in the last 1970’s.  I’ll interview a range of investors and look at the increasing number of angels, super angels, and micro VC’s and how smaller funds are filling a big need with startups.

International bridge organizations, incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces, make for both a soft landing zone and a community of like minded supporters for entrepreneurs.   Service providers such as attorney, accountants, pitch coaches, and market entry experts, are equally important as part of the entrepreneur’s trusted network.    I’ll also look at very limited role of government and how business-led regional development influences what happens in Silicon Valley.

Finally, everyone has a story.  Of all the entrepreneurs I’ve met, and there have been thousands, no one has failed to touch me with their drive, inspiration, motivation, failure, mistakes, ambition, curiosity, and success.   So through all of this, I want to share their stories with you.   After all, they lead.   We follow. 

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