Updated: Dec 20, 2018
Although there is no correct answer on how to go forward in Silicon Valley, and it totally depends on the situation where you are, here are some tips especially for those sent on a mission from large company.
1. Way of Thinking to Achieve Goal in Silicon Valley- 3 steps
Step 1. Goal Setting
Make it crystal-clear in advance on “Why Silicon Valley?”, “Why Startups?”, “What do you really want to achieve in Silicon Valley?”
For instance, just “information gathering around the startups” can be done more or less even if you’re not in Silicon valley today. Without clear answers for these fundamental questions, you will end up just being in Silicon Valley without any specific achievements.
Thus, setting specific goals is critically important and belows are examples of goal setting. - Investing in the next big startup - Investing in companies that you might have future synergies - Finding companies that might have solutions for your own business etc.
When thinking of the goal, also consider the value you can offer to your counter party. Without this viewpoint you would be paid no attention from startups.
Step 2. Plans for To-be
Once you define a clear goal, then set up a concrete short-term and mid/long-term targets to achieve the goal. Preferably, mid/long-term goal comes first, then short-term goal follows it.
This step is critically important for the phase afterwards to get people around involved.
Step 3. Sharing the Goal
Share the goal along with specific targets with key persons in your organization. At least a decision maker of your department should be on board with you so that you can get coverage when the time comes.
This step is critically important when you get things done in Silicon Valley while cooperating with “big company culture”, which has little/no shared view and has strong tendency to focus on risk rather than potential opportunity.
The way to get people from HQ on board varies depending on your situation/culture, but below are random ideas. - Rack up small successes - Keep your presence in the organization - Get them to pay a visit to inspire themselves - Ease the internal rule for more flexibility
Major adversities come from 1. a sense of suspicion or risk-averse culture in the organization and 2. the distance from HQ not also in a physical sense but also a psychological sense.
You should not blindly just focus on the communication with HQ (, which is one of the typical failures for people from big corporate), but consciously positioning yourself in your organization so that they can understand the positive side and culture of Silicon Valley is still pivotal in political dynamics.
In addition, once you can establish the unique position in terms of company rules, it would help you push things forward because it will give you more agility and flexibility, which are both effective as well in trying those random ideas above.
Typical Worst Practices of Big Corporates in Silicon ValleyReference Link (Japanese only): https://svs100.com/kushida2/
Carelessly open the office and send staffs without specific mission
End up setting the vague mission such as “gathering information”, “Searching for partners”, etc.
Do not fully understand that you are the one who need to “pitch” yourself in Silicon Valley, not vice versa.
Not being able to have a specific talk with start-ups because of the absence of decision-making authority and/or resources.
Spend too much time taking care of the issues related to head office
Gathering and sending the laps-behind information to the head office because the latest cutting-edge information cannot be understood by upper level management.
Transfer those who proceeded to open the Silicon Valley office
Send too young or demoted staff
Not being able to do long-term business because of personnel rotation
Come when in bubble and leave right after busted
Networking, Information Gathering
1. General Tips
Utilize twitter, follow people who are influential. Once you do start to follow, it will recommend who to follow, and you will easily be able to expand your follow basis.
Be ready to pitch about yourself in 1 minute: Since nobody will be interested just because you are a big company or which nationality you are from, “Elevator Pitch” is necessary.
Nice to have is a 1 pager to explain about your company and the goal that you have.
Showing yourself properly: Linkedin is a must have for people working here in the Valley. You must show the best parts about yourself
2. Recommended newsletters
Crunch Daily https://techcrunch.com/tag/daily-crunch/ This is a good maling list that you would receive on a daily basis, which includes both the trend and also the equity related topics
CBInsights https://www.cbinsights.com/newsletter Gives you good headlines on what is going on in the IT market
Pitch Book News https://pitchbook.com/subscribe A lot in the VC, PE, and M&A topic
Techmeme https://techmeme.us14.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=94ccd3ae223561415b05892ab&id=976a1cbc1f A lot of tech news of the moment
Churchill Club https://www.churchillclub.org/subscribe/ This gives you the events hosted by Churchill Club, which can be a good way to penetrate in the Valley
William Blair https://www.williamblair.com/en/News-and-Events.aspx You can subscribe industry verticles updates and reports by William Blair Mainly about perfromance and IR reports from public companies
3. Recommended organization
Saastr https://www.saastr.com/ World’s largest SaaS group
Reference Company Examples
Nestle launched Henri@Nestlé in 2016, a digital platform that will allow startups and entrepreneurs to pitch projects to the company in response to "innovation challenges" that Nestlé is looking to solve.
The initiative has received over 400 start-up applications so far and launched 12 Projects to enable Nestlé to improve the environmental impact of its work by partnering with start-ups with ‘tech-for-good solutions’
They are the venture capital and strategic business development arm of Yamaha Motor Company Ltd. The firm seeks to invest in the autonomous and connected vehicle, robotics and industrial automation, internet of things, precision agriculture and personal mobility sectors.
They focus on unique business fields such as MOTOBOT using the cutting-edge technology of Silicon Valley, and their speed of business as well as localization is reputed to be same level as start-ups in Silicon Valley.
It is said to be because they established the new organization that they can make their own decisions based on different rules from those of the head office by thoroughly involving upper-level management team.
Since 1998, Panasonic Venture Group (PVG) has invested in more than thirty companies. Investments are typically in the range of $1 to $3 million, funding proven technology at post-A rounds.
Panasonic established a new company, Panasonic Ventures, LLC, in April 2017. The new venture capital firm will invest in start-up companies mainly in the United States, with initial investments of around $100 million.
They develop a separate decision-making rule for PVG that allows them to make investment without any approval process by head office in Japan, which makes it possible for them to close a deal within just one to three weeks.