"There’s a reason why more startups succeed in Silicon Valley than anywhere else in the world," Furnwish's CEO Reham ElMasry says. "It's because they have the right support system."
A region that finds home in the south of the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley is named after the large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers in the region. But that was long before the area became home to many of the world's largest high-tech corporations, including the headquarters of 39 businesses in the Fortune 1000, and thousands of startups. The Valley accounts for almost 30 percent of all of the venture capital investment in the United States, which has helped it to become a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and scientific development.
...I really wanted to see a version of that ecosystem after having achieved many of the milestones that we’re currently working on.
"I really tried to eliminate expectations and let myself enjoy whatever I got," says AbdelQader Ahmed, an Egyptian serial entrepreneur. But he couldn’t. "I was very excited and I had this hunger to learn and explore how the entrepreneurship ecosystem works in a place like San Francisco. I work with two startups, AlMaqarr Coworking Space and ElRe7la, and our partners on strengthening and developing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt, and I really wanted to see a version of that ecosystem after having achieved many of the milestones that we’re currently working on."
That was one of the best things in San Francisco; you could always strike up conversations with people - even in the coffee shops - and you'd end up gaining business insights from those random coffee shop discussions.
Silicon Valley is a boulevard of opportunities. Following a pitching contest which she took part in, El-Masry was congratulated by almost everyone in the hall, some of which approached her for investment and partnership opportunities. She even got on Stanford University Radio Station which broadcasted to listeners of the Bay Area.
AbdelQader, who was on the same trip as El-Masry, was fascinated to see this much support given to startups that are still in their ideation and early stages, such as Furnwish. "I was amazed to see many people going through the entire process of having an idea, starting something, expansion, and then exit," he says. "It was great to see how they have hundreds of every resource of which we just have a couple, and how these hundreds contribute one way or another in bridging a gap or supporting those who need the support to get better."
I was amazed to see many people going through the entire process of having an idea, starting something, expansion, and then exit
The support given to young startups in terms of seed funding and investments to find the next big thing is AbdelQader's favourite takeaway from his trip with Injaz Egypt. "If we had this amount of funding in our region, things would play out very differently," the serial entrepreneur says. "But I believe that every stage has its own environment of support and we’re taking steps forward every day."
Don’t waste time getting upset because we don’t have this or that in the Middle East
On the other hand, for gamers like Jebran, the best place that served coffee was Musee Mechanique. "It’s a retro gaming place that I visited frequently," she says. "You can play old arcade games for hours at a time."
Aside from caffeine, and business development, there are a number of entrepreneurial touristic attractions in the Valley and it's a good idea to prepare a well-studied list of places one wants to visit before taking off to the States. Of course there are the standard highlights of San Francisco, from the Golden Gate Bridge, to Madame Tussaud's, to the Full House location at Alamo Square Park. And then there are some spots that are of particular interest to entrepreneurs visiting the city, such as Amazon's warehouse, the Facebook headquarters, and the LinkedIn headquarters.
...traveling to San Francisco will show you a different perspective about ambition, productivity and speed.
Also, though it may seem banal to some, since it's one of the things one often misses out on while living in the Middle East, enjoying the green pedestrian-friendly spaces is a highlight many Arab entrepreneurs mentioned. During their stay, AbdelQader would go for morning runs with Omar Galal, and Injaz founder Dina ElMofty every day.