Huge day as I sit here after midnight.
Today was the first day of scheduled meetings, so the real start of the trip and a test of my logistical skills. I started the day in San Francisco, before heading out to Silicon Valley and have finished up late in Sacramento. In between meetings I managed to sneak in a whirlwind tour of the Computer History Museum, a visit to Googleplex, a peek at the campus of Stanford University and a look at the garage where HP started.
My original plan was to blog daily about the key insights from each meeting. The problem with that is that the people I’m meeting with are so smart they could have a whole website dedicated to them (if they don’t already) which makes my original plan problematic! So the revised plan is to give an overview of the organisation and share the most important insight. Here’s my attempt to do it justice.
Working Solutions provide microfinancing of between $5-50k. Microfinancing is something many of us will have heard about, Kiva is a good example. I see in NZ Lifewise has been at it for a while and Kiwibank has recently started. Corinne explained how the key difference is that Working Solutions match the business up with a mentor for the life of the loan, which is usually 5 years. They must be doing something right because the repayment rate is 97%. The United States is similar to New Zealand in that the majority of their economy is made up of small businesses (note the size of businesses are classified differently in each country for obvious reasons). Are there any bankers views on whether this has legs in New Zealand?
Pam is based at the Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) and works for the New Zealand Consulate General West Coast, USA and is supported by Immigration NZ, NZTE and ATEED. KLP is a great initiative, it is amazing how some workspace and great connected people can go a long way (thanks Sian Simpson for previous insights). Pam identified an interesting intersection here for regions (especially outside cities) in how international talent can be attracted even just for short term stays, making it easy for people to invest and live, and leveraging existing and new international connections.
Marguerite has recently joined the Computer History Museum from Stanford University. She is co-editor of three books, The Silicon Valley Edge (2000), Making IT: Asia’s Rise in High Tech (2006), and Greater China’s Quest for Innovation (2008)…so getting one insight from our meeting is tricky!
So I’ll try two insights instead. The first was the distinction of two between innovation and entrepreneurship, where:
- Innovation is creating disruptive technology and business models
- Entrepreneurship involves starting, growing and scaling.
Would you describe your culture as one of Innovation and Entrepreneurship? How would you score companies in your region?
The second insight is around how to enable regions to grow by:
- Finding the unique competence or value proposition
- Making this proposition dynamic over time, i.e. it will change
- Balancing competition with being complimentary
Does your region have each of those attributes clear?
So, there we go. As we all dream of replicating or having the next Silicon Valley in our region, remember it all started in a garage in 1938…