Currently, I'm chilling at Hong Kong airport and about to fly back to San Francisco, and I'm a little nervious but more excited to share this String Report. This is the first of many.
In this String Report, I plan to share some of (mis)adventures about 8 startup cities; Silicon Valley love their unicorns, and Shenzhen China is an alien city.
Since February, I have travelled to 3 continents and visited over 15 cities to organise fried chicken parties, but really, my main interest is to collect stories about the latest innovation of the future.
So far I visited:
- Melbourne - A grid-hipster city that loves coffee and its social enterprise.
- Sydney - fintech and Blockchain, it's has become a nanny city-state.
- Brisbane - the Queensland government is aggressively making moves to be THE tech hub. The strong creative tech exists here.
- San Francisco/Silicon Valley - A dome full of unicorn cultivators - the geek game is strong here.
- Boulder - lifestyle and mountains, geek stay for life/work/community balance.
- NYC - The hustle is real here, bring in the moula.
- Los Angeles - Goodbye Hollywood, say hello to New Media.
- Austin - Hi quality people, but really it's all about SXSW.
- Hong Kong - landing pad before going to China
- Shenzhen - All roads lead to Shenzhen for hardware.
Silicon Valley - Unicorns, Sexism, And Innovation Bubble
If you like to geek out and be around innovators and smart people, then Silicon Valley (SV) is the place to be. I feel at home, I can go on a deep dive and geek out about Blockchain and learn more about Cybersecurity.
Did you know that this map below shows you a map of unicorns, each of these companies is valued at
I was in town when the Binary Capital scandal blew up and it had a ripple effect around the world. I caught up with Gary Vaynerchuk to ask his thoughts on it. At best he skirted around the topic. When I first arrived in SV, I thought it was interesting that acquaintances would introduce me to potential leads would say “keep your eye out for 'x dude' as he has a thing for the ladies.”
In SV, the male energy is strong, and historically, since the gold rush days in the 1850s, there’s always been waves of men coming to town. It's like a town full of Peter Pans.
Beyond this talk of ism, Beyond this talk of ism, the geek’outs are high here, when it comes to information about innovation - you can find it one step door away.
(video) I recommend watching Alfredo Coppola, co-founder of USMAC, talk about how he built a pipeline that allows foreign startups gain a footing within SV.
(video) Nigel Sharp, a global entrepreneur, described SV as a dome bubble and mentions that opportunities lay in building legacy/infrastructure in developing countries.
> My top 3 favourite fried chicken places
1. Mary's (Sydney)
2. Gus (LA, Austin)
3. Little Skillet (SF)
All About The Balance
New York has the balance right when it comes to investment and tech. They want it both to profitable and to be scalable. I found a better balance of male/women tech balance and support here. For me, NYC is like old media and LA is where new media is coming to fruition. Vibrant and gritty, the speed was 10x faster than I expected and I can see why the origin of the Hustle comes from here. Slow down, and someone can easily over take you. The appreciation for FinTech in everywhere, but I feel like NYC loves it more.
When it comes to nature and balance, I found it in; Austin, Boulder and LA. Boulder was a surprise to me, for a small town it was filled with people I can kick back and geek out with. It was like a white Christmas in June, fluffy white snow covered the ground. Geeks prioritises lifestyle over the hustle and prefer the mountains.
In Los Angeles, I was given a tour by a local and he points to the various building in Venice beach and says "that and that building is owned by Snapchat.” Venice has the beach and I'm excited for the train to connect LA and SF together. I can imagine myself living here for the talent and production value.
Visiting Austin and Boulder gave me a heightened sense of community - if you want tech, nature and community - a triple combo, then I suggest you check out Boulder.
Beyond the Western Borders
Hong Kong is not the real China, I matter of fact the same can be said about Shenzhen. Hong Kong reminds of Australia, and how conservative their attitude to investing in startups are. Then, Bay McLaughin got me thinking - most startups gear themselves to suit for VCs, and VCs are the not their users.
I went down and visited the place using a 5-day VISA pass, and I felt like I entered a familiar, but alien planet. The roads were wider than HK and the locals love their technology, but there was this cultural and language barrier between us.
It has been said, "All roads lead to Shenzhen for hardware". 90% of gadgets and gadgets are made here. While I didn’t visit the factories, I visited the next best thing Guaing Hwei Bai -
I recommend having a guide from Access China, I had Nick Zieber be my guide and help navigate the cultural and language barriers. Even cross the border was slightly nightmarish, I lost my wallet while crossing the border and thankfully I found it again. (video of misadventure)
Though the best way to describe Shenzhen is through this video blog - where we follow a geek create an iPhone from the electronic components found in Shenzhen (watch it here)
I had two perfect days in USA - one in LA and the other SF. I'm actually debating where I would be based at. When I was in Hong Kong, I felt the pace slowed down by 5x and as soon I was back in SF, the ducks kept lining up - but I'm still debating where to go...
LA or SF? That is the question...
I look forward to sharing next week's tech news - where I chat about the future of bots/AI
IF you think this is useful to any of your mates, feel free to forward/share and let know about The String Report.
Cheers from the future,
PS - let me know what you think of my first string report. xx