Google X, with one of the new self driving cars
Embarrassingly enough, before this trip our group knew very little about this hidden gem subsidiary of Alphabet’s. However, I think it is safe to say that this visit has left a lasting impression for all of us who attended. We do have one departing question for you Google X…..Are you hiring?
Day 2: YCombinator and Facebook
Experience by NG:Safe (Laura Mitchell and John Cassidy)
On the second sweltering Californian day we set out to the YCombinator offices in Mountain View. We were met by Jon Levy, one of the partners at this world famous startup accelerator that has launched the likes of Dropbox, PayPal and AirBnb. Behind its church-like following, YCombinator has incredibly modest offices and a simple approach to selecting applicants who demonstrate passion and perseverance for their ideas. The accelerator runs twice a year, where early stage companies are given 12 weeks to race from idea to prototype, before pitching to investors on demo day. Although famous for launching tech companies, it now accepts startups of all kinds including biotech and social enterprises. The four teams were lucky enough to have helpful one-on-one meetings with Jon, who seemed impressed by all our ventures and encouraged us to apply to YC. His advice to new companies was to:
Meet the end user
Exercise (The vast lunch portions at a nearby fast food outlet demonstrated why point three is so relevant in the valley…)
In the afternoon we were given a tour of the Facebook campus, a bizarre place where beyond the security barriers employees exist in a mini Palo Alto parallel universe. Restaurants, healthcare, dentists, mechanics and launderettes take care of the essentials; while bars, salons, sweet shops, art studios, games arcades and wood work workshops are available to disrupt thinking and keep the culture creative. This may have been working too well however, as we counted four people at their desks… and we can only assume the rest were sitting on Facebook. After Facebook there was time to relax at the poolside (the Waterscope guys assured us it was OK to swim) before dinner in Palo Alto.