Find out what Edspace members are up to... this week Toks reports on his trip to Silicon Valley:
I was mildly surprised when Laura Billings (edspace.io) asked if I would mind doing a blogpost about my recent trip to Silicon Valley. As an author with a few books in print, writing tends to come easily to me anyway, so I decided to do this short piece on my experiences in Silicon Valley.
I attended the Silicon Valley Tech Venture Launch Program (tvlp.co), this is an intensive Accelerator program that introduces founders to the Silicon Valley mind-set and culture. My start-up, is focused on exporting affordable, modular, online UK University education across Africa and we are now investment ready so I thought this is a good idea. It’s worth noting that they offer a scholarship to UK start-ups which I applied for and they granted it to me. Many thanks for this TVLP!
The program involved 3 intensive weeks of lectures, networking, mentoring and of course developing your 3-minute Pitch. I must confess that my Pitch now bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Pitch I showed up in the Valley with a few weeks ago so I was quite happy when it was selected as one of the top 3 Pitches to present to some VC’s at the finals.
We visited some VC’s such as Bilal Zuberi of Lux Capital and Patrick Chung of X-Fund among others, we also met with Angel Investors such as Randy Williams of the Keiretsu Forum, John Della Penna of Sand Hill Angels and the famous Carol Sands of Angels Forum. Lectures covered topics like Growth Hacking; Scaling your Venture; Innovation Trends; Execution, Operation and Sales; From Garage to Global Impact; The Value Chain; Identifying Business Opportunity & Business Models; Go to Market Strategy etc. Silicon Valley appears to thrive on networking and we got to attend many networking sessions and visit many interesting landmarks.
This short piece cannot fully describe the entire program as it was quite intensive but I would like to talk about my experience as a UK EdTech Founder in Silicon Valley - In Silicon Valley the bigger the better, which is at odds with the traditional British understated approach. Everyone seems to be looking for or want to be the next Unicorn!
I met a founder who had raised $35Million in total for his start-up and it fascinated me to learn it was all an idea in his head only 2 years ago! I met another founder who has spent close to a decade chasing his dream of a successful hardware start-up before he got a major break recently. You have to be in the Valley to get funded by the Valley is a phrase I heard many times, it appears because the deal flow in Silicon Valley is huge they rarely need to look outside that ecosystem for deals, so if you desire Silicon Valley funding you should plan to visit at some point.
As my focus is Digitally Educating Africa, it saddened me to learn there was minimal interest from Silicon Valley VC’s in African Education, with 200 Million people between 14 – 24 I am surprised they do not see this huge opportunity yet! It was however interesting to learn that Mark Zuckerberg was part of the $24Million round into Andela a Nigeria/USA based start-up that teaches Africans to code and then gets them great jobs abroad. I guess my biggest take away from Silicon Valley is that Philanthropic Capital should also be considered as a source of funding for EdTech Start-Ups!
Toks Oyegunle (@ToksOyegunle) Founder/CEO
Lexbytz – Digitally Educating Africa!