We acknowledge that we live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
Last month, students from Conrad's Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program travelled to the heart of the startup movement: San Francisco and Silicon Valley, California.
MBET student Ademola Adelakun chronicled the trip on video and writes about his experiences below.
Up until recently, I took the power of travel completely for granted. Though there are many reasons to explore new areas of the world, I have always found a way to justify staying close to home.
Not only that, when I have travelled, I’ve been doing it completely wrong! Sight seeing and stuffing your face is not all there is to it.
Building stronger relationships is the key to truly enjoying travelling. Having people you trust and care about with you every step of the way is a necessary component to falling in love with the exploration of this very small world we live in. This is what I experienced during my trip to San Francisco with my fellow MBET students.
The MBET class outside the classroom
This was the week that I promised myself that no school work would be done, and after multiple discussions with classmates, it seemed that this was the general consensus! We were there to explore and relax, and we knew that after all of our hard work, we deserved it.
The first thing I noticed was that outside of an academic setting, our personalities had more room for expression. I spent a considerable amount of time with everyone there, and I began to realize that each and every person, though different, shared three similar qualities: intelligence, kindness, and most importantly, curiosity. These qualities were consistent amongst every individual.
Curiosity, the very thing that brought all of us to San Francisco, continues to burn eminently throughout the hearts of all of us, and witnessing that in each and every one of these individuals has been an unforgettable experience.
An inside look at startup life
During the week, we had the opportunity to tour companies such as FitBit, AirBnB, Yahoo, and Google. Their offices were incredible; once you’re inside, there’s no reason to leave. From food, to fitness centres, to on-site dry cleaning services, these companies love to spoil their employees. Even though these offices were large in size, there was still a great community feel.
We also got to experience the startup incubator life. For instance, we were lucky enough to hear a talk from Marvin Liao of 500 Startups. This discussion highlighted just how different the attitudes of American-based startups are, when compared to their Canadian counterparts.
The main difference lies in the fact that American startups don’t have the same sense of politeness that Canadians are often hindered by, in terms of progress. All in all, every incubator had pretty valuable insights that were important for our personal growth.
The sights and sounds of San Francisco
Right, the sights. What were they like?
The only way to describe San Francisco is absolutely breathtaking. From the weather, to the world renowned Golden Gate Bridge, to the Pacific-freaking-Ocean, it’s truly a sight to behold. There’s so much to do in the city, and the only real suggestion I can really make is, avoid the heart of the tenderloin district. It’s a terrible place, and I guarantee that you will see things that cannot easily be forgotten or be unseen.
That aside, the MUST-see places are the Fisherman's Wharf, Muir Woods, Half Moon Bay, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Ocean Beach, amongst many others. The important thing is that you explore and get to know the people that are there with you.
Every time I look back on the experience, I’m filled with joy. So with that said, if future MBETs are weighing the pros and cons of partaking on this journey, do yourself a favour and don’t think so hard (you’ve done enough of that up to this point!) Trust me when I say, just go.
Ademola is a current MBET student. Prior to MBET, he studied Psychology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo.
He has held positions in Business Development and Sales at various startups in Waterloo. These startups include, Sparkgig, ThirdEye, and Bedouin Inc.