I have never dreamt of going to Silicon Valley, even at first I didn’t know what Silicon Valley is. The opportunity just happened when I accidentally won a competition held by Telkomsel, back in 2016 which really really surprised me (since tbh I really did not know the prize until I got into final round).
In short, Telkomsel collaborated with Kibar and GSVlabs to present a 2 weeks Young Entrepreneur Academy in Silicon Valley, the home of many worldwide platform such as Google, Facebook and everything you might mention. Excited enough? Tell me who’s not!
San Fransisco, USA.
The Starter Pack
San Fransisco was very cold, around 15 degree celcius with some drizzle of rain in the afternoon. Overall, the city was very nice to stroll around that you can find lots of coffee shop or just a place to sit and read. People were very diverse since many nationalisms were mingled here.
San Fransisco is not a big city but I could say it got a full packaged with those historical building, typical shops, beautiful bay with its famous golden gate and a good scenery of modern beautiful city at night. The street were extremely uphill, that you could easily saw the entire city of San Fransisco from many spots.
We stayed in Civic Center area, near the city hall which quite crowded since it located near the shopping district. Every morning a bus will came and took us to the GSVlabs that happened to be our permanent class for the next 2 weeks which located in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley was like a next door city, beside San Fransisco. We always had to leave earlier since it was an 1 hour trip with a bit of traffic jam, but the surrounding scenery along the way from our bus window was attractive enough that I didn’t mind being stucked on the street.
Strolling Around GSVlabs
Talking about startup, you might want to know further about this place. GSVlabs which stands for Global Silicon Valley is an incubator space for newly born startup. Being a support system for the startups, this place is comfortable enough as it equipped you with many productive spaces such as meeting rooms, conference hall, spacious work area and my favourite cafetaria which you can grab a coffee for free.
I would say the working environment here was very vibrant, seeing everyone was always busy either by spending time in front of their mac or having a small meeting. People were very nice until you realized how often you smiled for bumping into many strangers. We stayed in a one room for the whole 2 weeks that we called it our own classroom which is big enough to hold the entire team and still has some space for us to wander around. We had one big flat smart tv in front of the class that used by our lecturer, and after that they would write the explanation on the wall which is a fully whiteboard so we can wrote anywhere that we like.
I like my classroom the best since it is right in front of the cafetaria so I can always run into my favourite hot chocolate during the class. The cafetaria provided free chocolate, coffee and water for everyone with a snack vending machine, in case you want to bite something. There is a high table in the middle of cafetaria where people usually had their lunch there while standing up to make it fast and efficient.
I like the idea of how people here really appreciate their time for working so they tend to shorten their lunch time, and those sudden natural conversations you got when someone joined for a lunch was surely not to be missed everyday. Outside they have a small grass garden with concrete picnic tables, sometimes used for our certain class session just to avoid boredom and catch some sunlight.
Class of Silicon Valley
We started our session with a warm greeeting from Michael, who turned out to be our everyday mentor for the next 2 weeks. Michael was the one we owe so much until the end of session since he really took care of us and mantain our class schedule.
The main learning topic was being an entrepreneur focusing on digital startup. We came here with our own team project, so GSVlabs basically was helping us incubating our project by giving us new insights. Mostly our class mentor was the real CEO of a startups company. Just in case you are curious about the startups, you might be amazed by the diversity they had in here. Meet Kevin Longa from Taste, who traveled around the world to storytell the journey of the chefs in each country derived from his love for foods. He made a documentary video which he published inside his website, so people can see the story behind the delicious food served on their table. Also meet Praveen from Name.co, who made a website that help people to pronounce people’s name well. I found this was very brilliant since people do have the difficulty to spell a name correctly and he realized how it was an important issued to be solved.
All of the startups here came as a solution of our everyday problem or basically just following their passion. Sometimes they were in the state of almost quitting, struggling with their team and even running out of money, but I learnt that their passion helped them survive and stay as what they are now. As long as you do what you love, you can overcome anything.
What to know from SIlicon Valley?
You might wonder what make Silicon Valley different from others since it keep producing the worldwide startup company such as Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Netflix, you mention it. Meet Bobby Amiri, the VP of GSVLabs that just answered it right for us. When you built a startup, you might need a strong support system which can helped you realizing it, and that what Silicon Valley can provide to you. This Southern part of San Fransisco offer you not only a place, but also the great ecosystem inside.
Besides startups, Silicon Valley is filled with VCs (venture capital, the funding source that might invest on your startup), corporations, research facility, accelerator incubator (such as GSVlabs), Legal, Government and worldwide rank university like Stanford. All of those great elements consolidated into such a strong connection which keep affecting each other, making it a great environment for your startups to grow.
Visiting the Mecca of the Valley
This might be the most highlighted trip we rooted for since the beginning. For me, Google was like the iconic part that dominate the most area in Silicon Valley. They had a free bus running for their employee, and those iconic Google-color-bike that you can ride for free through each of the Google area.
We could not enter the office, so we went to the google visitor area instead which was quite fun with the colorful ball pool, indoor mini golf, thousand of hanging sticky notes and those high tech stuffs that I didn’t even know the name. We came into the office room replica just to get shown the principle that Google always believed: “If someday you were a boss of your own company, you might not want to sit in the highest floor since you could not ever know what is going on below you”. And that’s how the boss and the employee in Google were simply close to each other.
Beside the culture, Google kept their environment clean and comfortable, making a good working ambience too for their employee.
Being one of succesfully growing startup, you might not want to miss Airbnb. We did not really tour the office inside, but we came into the central area which you can already feel the good working vibe. We waited for the speaker while having lunch in the cafetaria that filled with super healthy food since I could not find anything fried or smells like junkfood and many choices of drink served in water tap.
The dining hall was quite big with a small market stand in the middle that sold some charity stuffs. I came for a quick look because of my curiousity and they explained the story behind this market that was fascinating since they were empowering the women around the world to make a living. Small thing that quite describe the positive environment they got here
Stanford and Berkeley
I always wanted to study abroad, and the chance of visiting two top world rank universities might be a golden key towards my dream. With the same popularity, these universities definitely have their own characteristic.
Stanford was the image of a calm and quiet college filled with genius brainiac. Large, spacious, and historical oldschool building with artistic statue best describe this university. Mostly students wander around with bike or skateboard, while the others were laying on the grass with books to enjoy. In Stanford students were given freedom to choose their college subject and did not have any list of attendees since they were considered as being responsible to what they already chose. They did not even cheat during the test eventhough there was no guard, it claimed that they don’t have any cheating intention due to a great tendency of developing themselves well. I knew how different it was, compared to the situation we got in our own country.
While in Berkeley the environment was a bit more lively as you could see the crowd. They dressed more uniquely from geek into the hippiest that more diversities were shown here. Cafetarias and shops were seen almost anywhere in front of the university. If you were the kind of active students who could not stay still in your boarding house, then Berkeley might get your interest. Both Berkeley and Stanford were interesting with each of its uniqueness, at least both made me realize how far the path that I still need to get through in order to achieve my dream.
Indonesia General Consulate
Indonesian in San Fransisco
We got an honor to visit Indonesian General Consulate which located in Pacific Height. Pacific Height is an elite area, located in upper part of the city that you could see the whole San Fransisco anywhere. Many flowers were blooming along with those beautiful victorian style house on the side of the street, making it more likely a photo you would find on exclusive postcard.
Wisma Indonesia (thats how you call the General Consulate residence) is a nice typical of San Fransisco house with Indonesian flag outside. We came to realize how actually quite many Indonesians were living there with each of them having different backgrounds and jobs. I could not stand no to ask about their living here and they all were nice enough to share their journey which mostly interesting yet inspiring. It was a pleasure to see how our people were doing great in other country and it had a been a valuable lesson for me as I need to work harder to catch them up.
We spent the night with a lovely Indonesian dinner an a warm conversation which made that day wonderful enough.
My Hardest Goodbye
My 2 weeks there were insanely great. I finished my whole session with a positive mind and new way of thinking. What I learn the most from those people was they never judge. Whenever we asked for the feedback, they would rather ask back to us about our opinion. They tend to open our mind to every possible opportunity and how to deal with the worst case that might happen later. They prepared us to be a leader instead of avoiding mistakes. Because making innovation means there will be a big chance of failure, and a leader should always know what to do.
Sometimes we afraid to do a lot of things because we are afraid of making mistakes and that was a very wrong kind of mindset. I found out all of the knowledge I got here was super duper useful, and to learn it in Silicon Valley? Boom you got the jackpot.
Since the beginning, I was always grateful for this chance and my biggest gratitude goes to Telkomsel, Kibar and GSVlabs for making this happen to us. Having such a life changing moments here making it hard to leave. San Fransisco was a small city full of positiveness and surprise that you would not imagine what will you got here.
I love how the wind breeze so coldly while it was sunny too, I love how fast the sky turned its color and the blinking light of the night scenery that I saw from the hill, I love how I met a lot of people that turned out to be so precious to me and how we quickly became a family. The point is It was rather hard to leave something that already filled your heart, but again life is about moving forward. I took this experience as a new beginning for my life and cherish every moment that I got without regret.
For me, San Fransisco had been more than just a city with the bay. It was a city with people, hopes and memories which I left my heart in.