As the other ESTEEM students were preparing for their shadow day – a day visiting interesting, San Francisco-based companies - my day was designed to be more atypical. Since my Capstone Thesis industry sponsor is based Downtown, German, Karl and I were lined up to pitch our projects and financial models to the global innovation head of this financial institution.
Our day began at 7am in our hotel in Palo Alto with a rush to (start and) finish our pitch decks- comprising of customer validation, voice-of-customer analyses, our solution, and our financial models. After our first Uber cancelled on us because he wouldn’t “take us to San Francisco”, we were left in the hands of Ericka Nichols, an Uber driver down from Modesto for the day, to bring us into the city. She kept us occupied for the 75 minute journey telling us her stories of San Francisco, her plans to start a blog and design group, and her finishing of college. By 10:45, she had dropped us off at the door of the base and we were ready to finish prep for our presentations. Before diving into our slides, as a group we grabbed a quick lunch from Homage, a hip, alternative café (they do a killer chicory and cauliflower salad).
At 2pm, our knees begin to shake as the Executive entered for the pitches. She introduced herself, asked some questions about our ESTEEM program, our Silicon Valley trip, and made us feel comfortable before we launched into our presentations. After an hour, we were all talked out, brain-fried, and content with how the pitches had gone. The exposure to corporate pitching for something which potentially could reinvent the international money transfer and point-of-sales space was incredible experience and humbling to say the least. German, Karl, and I then left for the piers to relax and unwind before our dinner with the executives. Relaxing at Mijitos, a kitsch taqueria with bayviews, we grabbed some comida and (briefly) enjoyed their happy hour.
After Karl taught German and me about the entire Texan history (4th and 7th Texas grade school served him well) we left for the Old Ship Saloon for some bar food with our supervisors . Dinner talks shifted from politics, to FinTech, to start-ups, to Californian skiing and we left both belly and mind-full. We bid farewell to the execs and left for Hayes Valley to meet up with the rest of the class. Exhausted for the day and attracted by the thoughts of the hotel hot-tub, Alex Curry and I found Smitten; a boutique, pop-up liquid nitrogen ice-cream parlour with a line for days but ice-cream to die for.
The day ended with a relaxing night in the hotel hot-tub to wash away the stress of corporate pitches. Excited for the rest of the week and tired by adrenaline crashes the day ended around 11:30pm with the prospect of a 6:30am start the next morning to catch up on some e-mails and enjoy the Californian lifestyle.