Esteem student Keith J. Marrero Jr. is providing daily updates of the Class of 2014 Spring Break Trip to Silicon Valley.
Wednesday saw the ESTEEM class arise before dawn for a full day in the Valley. Our first stop was Buck's Woodside for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Despite appearances, this eatery is a major player in start-up culture. At this restaurant, major funding agreements were made for companies like Tesla, PayPal, and Netscape, to name a few. We met the owner, who spoke about some of his more memorable experiences there – including one that involved a Russian spacesuit.
After Buck's, we headed back to NestGSV to continue our pitches. Ten students presented before lunch and two after. During lunch, we had a changeover of our panel of Silicon Valley VCs and business leaders to gain some different perspectives on how pitches are received and analyzed. Each panel summarized their thoughts on our pitches and gave invaluable suggestions and advice for improving our pitches in the future. After the student pitches, four companies from NestGSV gave similar pitches. One of the presenters was Justin Hintz of Oak Financial, which operates both at NestGSV and at Innovation Park. Since we have all seen and heard about each other's projects throughout the year, this was a nice opportunity to experience a pitch with zero prior knowledge of the business or product being pitched. It helped us to see what information is important to communicate when pitching to an audience with no prior knowledge, and I believe this will also benefit us in future pitches.
From NestGSV, we traveled to Honorary Consulate General of the Czech Republic Richard Pivnicka's house. Here we
listened to Jack Porter, founder of Forward Accelerator, give an overview on getting a start-up off the ground, why now is the right time, and why Silicon Valley is the right place to do it. We then heard Ratislav Turek give a presentation on his successful entrepreneurial venture, a software program that can be used to prevent video piracy. After the presentations we had some time to mingle with the presenters as well as some of our panelists from earlier in the day. We left for dinner at Mandaloun Tapas, where the class was able to decompress and enjoy one another's company before heading back to the hotel. Thursday will be a shorter day for us but no less exciting. We will head to four well-known companies in the Valley as we continue to quench our thirst for adventure and knowledge.