Last month, after the UW Business Plan Competition, we were selected to pitch at the DFJ Venture Challenge in the valley. When I found out we'd been selected by the partners as the 'wild card,' I was in Ohio for my grandparents 65th wedding anniversary.
Thus began our adventure in spending as little money as possible in the valley while meeting with as many people as possible. The adventure:
Day 0 -Find out we're selected. Rapidly change plane ticket to get back to Seattle.
Day 1- UW pays to fly us down there. Awesome- Travel Cost- $0.
Fly into Oakland so that our VP of Marketing, a Berkely undergrad, can steal a car from his brother. His brother picks us up, we drop him off, and head across the bay to Palo Alto.
Sleep in the Sheraton...1 night compliments of UW. Awesome.
Day 2- Head to Sand Hill Road for the DFJ Challenge. Intense day. 16 Competing teams, all winners of the Big California Schools (UW was invited for the first year) business plan competition and two wild cards (including us). Everyone gave a 5 minute pitch with 5 minutes Q&A in the morning. 6 companies selected for the finals, a 15 minute pitch with 15 Q&A in the afternoon. We were honored to be in the finals.
At this point most teams headed home, including the other team from UW. We, however, with our free plane ticket to Silicon Valley, didn't want to waste it. So began the boostrapping adventure.
Step 1: Get dropped off at a Mountain View Coffee Shop around 6:00. In Suits and carrying our luggage. We get back to work. Below us a hippie rock band plays (we look quite out of place in suits).
Sit at coffee shop for 4 hours. Until they close. Waiting for Mountain View couch we're sleeping on to get back from downtown San Fran. Get kicked out of coffee shop for closing. Sit on outside table of a closed restaurant for 1 hour, waiting. Buy beer from local corner store.
Mountain View friend happens to be moving, so there is one small couch and a little bit of floor space. I get the floor. Awesome.
Next day, invited back to DFJ to demo our product. Take CalTrain from Mountain View to Palo Alto. Don't pay for ticket.
In our Silicon Valley nievity, we think we'll be ok without a car (returned to brother) to get across Stanford's campus to Sand Hill road in two hours. Wow. Bad idea. Take pictures with phone of campus so we don't get lost (it seems much, much bigger than UW). This is only one picture. In the next picture you can see Sand Hill road to the FAR right.
An hour or so after getting off the CalTrain, after hiking through a ditch, we find Sand Hill Road.
Only we weren't far from the bottom of Sand Hill Road. DFJ is at the end of it. And it's up hill. Arrive for delicious free lunch meeting sweaty. Very sweaty.
The next day, we woke up to hear that a meeting we were trying to schedule could, in fact, happen...at 10:30 am. Downtown. We we're still in Mountain View. Luckily have the brother's car for the day, and book it downtown.
Meet with firm, then walk...and walk...and walk...around the city to get to next meeting
Meet with guy at Google...get awesome Google lunch (you wonder why they get top talent). Book it to Union Square. Meet with a VC EIR on 36th floor of Hyatt for a drink (great place for a meeting for future reference)
Then drive back to Mountain View for meeting with former Yahoo exec. Lots of driving. THEN drive to Berkeley, where we have 2 couches to sleep on.
Crazy 3 days. Absolutley Crazy. Now we're going back this week, if you have a couch to sleep on let me know.