Editor’s note: Adam Klein is the Chief Strategist for the American Underground. He is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the Underground including marketing, programming, and leasing. Prior to that he was with the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce where he launched the Bull City Startup Stampede and The Smoffice initiatives. He’ll be blogging for WRAL News about the launch of non-stop flight service to Silicon valley from RTP, which began Wednesday, and meetings with investors as well as entrepreneurs in technology’s cradle.
SAN FRANCISCO – It’s a wild thing to leave your house when it’s dark and arrive on the other side of the country when people are still in line at Starbucks on their way into the office. But that’s one of the cooler things about the non-stop flight to San Francisco – I was there at 9:30 a.m. after leaving RDU at 7 a.m.
The total flight time is five hours which gives one plenty of time to catch up on projects, read a little (finished two Inc magazines and a Fast Company that have been on my coffee table for a while), and still have time to drink three Diet Cokes. No judging, I was up for eight hours by the time I landed in San Francisco.
My only critique of the flight is there was no Wi-Fi. I talked with some entrepreneurs on board who liked that (it made them work without the distraction of email) but I think with investors and others making the trek that wi-fi should at least be an option on the flight.
There is so much to cover after I arrived in the Valley but I’ll try to be brief.
My first stop was Stanford. I figured with all the academic firepower we have in the Triangle, it’d be worth a visit to one of the premier campuses pumping out entrepreneurs. Stanford did not disappoint. If there was ever a doubt about the connection between universities and entrepreneurship, it was erased at the engineering quad. The names on the buildings read like a “Who’s Who” list of entrepreneurs–Packard, Hewlett, Gates, Huang–the list goes on and on.
You simply can’t get away from entrepreneurship on campus (even in the men’s room I found a post for a startup looking for a lead developer).
And Stanford memorializes entrepreneurs. At the Forbes Cafe inside the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Building (named for the founder of NVIDIA) there is a plaque honoring Huang’s accomplishments and contributions to Stanford. It got me wondering how the Triangle could celebrate and memorialize our entrepreneurial success stories. I realize we may not have the same kind or caliber as the Valley but that shouldn’t deter us from honoring the contributions of our tech and life science founders. After all, that’s part of creating an entrepreneurial culture.
My next stop (and where I wrote this post from) was Coupa Cafe down the street from campus. I was tipped off to this place by someone who commented on my previous blog post. The place was packed all afternoon. I had two coders sitting to my right for a few hours and a team working on a fitness startup right in front of me. A close parallel to the experience is Beyu Caffe in downtown Durham. Lots of young entrepreneurs gathering in one spot. Very cool.
And lastly – a side note but one worth mentioning. When you drive from San Francisco to Palo Alto (down 101), there are loads of buildings and signs for successful startups. I saw three billboards for startups in a two mile stretch. You simply couldn’t miss that these companies have a strong presence here.
I have often heard local startup founders comment that the Triangle ought to look at better signage for major, innovative companies along I-40. What if we had signs pointing out the exit for Red Hat, IBM, GSK, Bandwidth, and others? It might help visitors better understand the Triangle’s prowess in these industries–and make it easier for startups to show some regional innovators when luring West Coast investors.
After all, that’s why we got this non-stop flight, right?