Coming to Silicon Valley
- with Shawn Flynn

Advice for Entrepreneurs Moving to Silicon Valley
March 3, 2020
    Background to Episode
    Many of our listeners are tech entrepreneurs or tech workers. Silicon Valley, as the Mecca of the tech sector, attracts people from all over the world, and many of you are thinking of moving here. That's why we decided to dedicate an episode to the subject of coming to Silicon Valley.

    Guest speaker: Shawn Flynn of the Silicon Valley Podcast on The Investor's Podcast Network
    Shawn is a people-connector extraordinaire. On the one hand, he's the host of the Silicon Valley podcast on the Investor's Podcast Network, as well as host of the TV program, Silicon Valley Successes. These roles give him access to leading entrepreneurs, tech luminaries and venture capitalists. On the other hand, he's a mentor and advisor to startup founders who seek his assistance to more rapidly plug in Silicon Valley's ecosystem.

    What You'll Learn in This Episode
    5:03 Common misconceptions people have when they first arrive in Silicon Valley
    5:30 What works in your home country won't necessarily work here
    6:13 Come with a road map, but be prepared to update it
    6:40 Give yourself enough time to achieve your goals
    10:22 Be a coachable founder who's willing to learn
    12:00 Challenges of recruiting for a startup in Silicon Valley

    13:17 ★ Wealthy and Wise: Welcome to the US! Welcome to Worldwide Taxation! ★

    16:56 How to overcome cultural barriers
    21:40 And how to leverage your cultural connections and background
    24:04 The importance of defining your goals early on
    26:07 The innovation theatre of delegations to Silicon Valley
    27:03 The success stories
    27:17 The surprising depth of contacts enjoyed by people in the service industries.
    32:35 Something annoying about California
    33:03 Is Silicon Valley diverse or a bunch of old white guys in a back room?
    33:30 The importance of asking questions
    36:12 Checklist for newcomers to Silicon Valley

    Key Words
    • Silicon Valley
    • cultural barriers
    • networking
    • mentoring
    • innovation theatre

    Resources and Related Content

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    Full Transcript

    Matt Lewis 0:04
    Welcome to Wealth Bootcamp.This is Matt Lewis of Westbridge Wealth Management.

    I'm a fee-only financial advisor who helps entrepreneurs make good decisions in their investments, their taxes, and their careers. If you're an entrepreneur, business owner, or early employee working in a startup, chances are you're incredibly busy. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. But if you tune in to our weekly podcast and look through the articles at, you'll be on top of the important issues affecting your long-term wealth — before its too late. Sound good? Let's get started.

    Matt Lewis 0:47
    Many of our listeners are tech entrepreneurs or tech workers. Silicon Valley as the mecca of the tech sector attracts people from all over the world. In fact, many of you are perhaps thinking of moving here. So I thought we should dedicate an episode to the subject of coming to Silicon Valley. In today's show will cover misconceptions about Silicon Valley, the do's and don'ts for new arrivals, and how you can prepare before the move. If you're in front of your computer or have a big screen on your smartphone, this would be a good time to check out the show notes for this episode at That way you'll get a bird's eye view of the material we're covering. And if you see a particular part that piques your interest, you'll know just where to drop in to get that piece of information.

    Matt Lewis 1:31
    Of all the people I've come across in Silicon Valley, Shawn Flynn is probably the most welcoming and willing to help individual I've had the pleasure of meeting. This is especially the case when it comes to helping startup founders who have recently moved here. A little background on Shawn. He's the host of the podcast, Silicon Valley, which is the most recent addition to the Investor's Podcast Network, the number one stock investing podcast platform with over 30 million downloads. He's also the host of Silicon Valley Successes, a public access TV show filmed in Mountain View, California, I think of Shawn as a people connect here, and I have to say he has a lot of connections to Asia. That makes sense because he spent over four years living and conducting business in Beijing, China, where he launched and grew a successful educational startup. In addition to all his activities on the air, Shawn is responsible for business development at Techcode, an incubator platform with offices in seven countries and a whole slew of locations in China. He has helped numerous companies set up operations in Silicon Valley, and has also assisted us companies to set up offices partnerships and funding relationships overseas and his passion. It's connecting silicon Valley to the rest of the world. Shawn, it's a pleasure to have you on the show. Now, I always thought of you as the head of Techcode, but come to find out you're responsible for business development, is that right?

    Shawn Flynn 2:55
    My title is Director of Business Development here. I pretty much run all the operations coming in and out of Silicon Valley. When it's meeting delegations, or getting the companies together to go overseas. Those are all my KPIs are my projects that I work on. But we are backed by one largest land development companies in the world, backed by one of the largest governments in the world. So with that, there is quite a hierarchy above me. I'm just a good piece of the watch, I guess you'd say, in Silicon Valley.

    Matt Lewis 3:37
    On the ground here in the Bay Area you certainly are visible. I think you're the most visible personality associated with Techcode.

    Shawn Flynn 3:46
    I would agree. I mean, I'd say some of my coworkers, I don't even know.

    Matt Lewis 3:53
    I'll introduce you to them sometime.

    Shawn Flynn 3:55
    Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.

    Matt Lewis 3:57
    And I see that you have, it looks like seven, locations around the world.

    Shawn Flynn 4:01
    Quite a bit more actually. For almost all them, I mean, countries, yes, seven countries around the world for our incubators. Our offices, we have quite a few more and our offices, is just one person scouting and so we actually have an office in Moscow and a lot of lot of cities. But in China, we're pretty prevalent. We're in pretty much every major city in China in some respect.

    Matt Lewis 4:28
    Wow. That's good coverage. All right. So I think our audience is going to be most interested in what you have to say about newcomers to Silicon Valley. We have a lot of international listeners and you and I have seen a lot of delegations and a lot of founders coming to the Bay Area to set up shop. So I wanted to ask you, how you facilitate their, you know, a smooth transition for them. And, you know, what kind of misconceptions do they have? Say, you can help people before they get on the plane before they make the big move.

    Shawn Flynn 5:03
    So there's a ton of misconceptions I would say. First off is a lot of people come here, they think instantly, they'll get a check written to them and they may even say something like, I only need a half a million, it's not that much money I figure I'll close this round in the next two, three weeks. And realistically, that's just not possible. I mean, they can't even get meetings in that time unless they already had them lined up. Also, they haven't built their network yet. They haven't built their team here. They haven't really done anything and a huge misconception is: whatever worked back in their home country is going to work here, when the mindset should actually be okay I'm going to a completely new area. I have to completely not not, I'd say 100% adjust to the new environment. But I have to have an open mind from day one. See what works here, qhat doesn't work, what are the differences. Try to actually find people from my home country or where the city I'm from, pick their brains of what they discovered when they're here and the challenges they faced, and use that to kind of accelerate my learning into the new environment.

    Matt Lewis 6:12
    Mhm mhm.

    Shawn Flynn 6:13
    And a lot of people when they first come here, they don't know the landscape yet. And what I mean by that is they think Silicon Valley is either San Francisco or maybe San Jose or Palo Alto. They don't know about all these cities in between. They don't know about the benefits and disadvantages of each location. They don't know, what their focus is. I mean, some people just come here and go, "I'm going to work in tech." But tech is so broad. There's so many areas to tech. All right. Are they going to look for an AR VR autonomous cars? Are they Big Data? Machine learning? What is their focus going to be? If they don't come with kind of a roadmap they just get lost. And I've seen this with many engineers in that they come here. They don't really know what they're going to do. They think they're going to work at Google, they have no idea that it's a six month nine month interview process and that's the same with a lot of these companies. The interview process isn't you sit down once you're hired. You sit down for 6, 7, 8 times and then maybe you get hired. And that whole process is half a year, a year. And maybe they only had enough money to come here for a month. And I mean, really—

    Matt Lewis 7:28
    It's not a happy ending.

    Shawn Flynn 7:30
    Yeah, I've seen this one example that comes to mind as we're talking. A gentleman I actually knew from the gym, who would come here, he was a computer science major, I think it was like Ohio city or something and he had enough money for three months and you know, day one I meet him. "Oh, yeah, I've already got these interviews lined up at these huge tech companies. So I'll get a job next few weeks." With me going, "you know, have you thought of any startups, if you if you have a runway of three months, maybe we should start looking for a startup right now? And use that. And then transition to one of these companies after the interview process?" "Oh, no, I got this. I got all the interviews lined up," you know. Month two, he's starting to get a little nervous. He's like, "yeah, I sat down with companies, companies, they said, I don't have experience. But you know, other ones. I'm still in the interview process. So I'm fine. It's no big deal." "You know, you get dinner. You get some experience working with startups. Have you thought about just doing an internship or some freelancing or even just doing some pro bono stuff to build out your resume? I mean, you just graduated college, kind of need something there to compete with people" because what people don't realize when they're in the valley is—and this sounds odd—a PhD from Stanford Berkeley doesn't necessarily get you the job. It's so competitive here. I've been in conversations where they go around the circle and they go, "yeah, I have a PhD from here. I have an MBA from here. I have a PhD from here." And no one really is impressed by anyone. It's insane. I can't think of another place in the world where you have that much academic clout as in Silicon Valley. But back to this guy. So month three came along, he still didn't have a job. He's stressing, you know, his girlfriend back at home was yelling at him, I guess because he didn't have enough money to fly her out there to see him. And eventually, after you know, the third month, he did stay a little longer. I think he lasted about six months total. But then he just went back home. rom day one he had gone Okay, I'm just jumping into anything. I'm going to work at a startup while I interview, you know, get some money in the door, I'll build a resume—he could have built some of that before even come in here. Doing some real pro bono work. Whatever—and you know, build that up, he would have been fine. But instead he, he had his map, his passion, his vision ad he wasn't flexible at all. He didn't adjust to the landscape. And I mean, that's what happened.

    Matt Lewis 10:01
    Yeah, that's a sad story. How about founders coming over here? Let's say that they, they have some traction in their home market and they're trying to either raise investment or raise investment and open up the American market for their startup. Have you seen some examples there of failures or successes?

    Shawn Flynn 10:22
    I've seen that quite a bit. Failures and successes from all over the world: Israel, Ukraine, Russia, China. Where what succeed in their country—not so much—the Chinese entrepreneurs when they come here, from day one, they kind of have that mindset where "I have to remarket, repackage my product for the western market." But I've seen from—especially I guess I'd say, Europe in that thinking, "Okay, it worked in Spain, it's going to work in the US." With me just looking at the founder going, "Okay, what's your go to market strategy? How did it work there? What are you going to do different here? Have you talked to people here?" A lot of people that I've met, some founders—and this is one of the things that in the past, one of the first things I was told when looking at startups was: find founders that are coachable. Find the founders that are open to listen in and work with them. Because they're the ones are going to get the best results. They are the ones are going to succeed in the long run, you know, especially if they have that resilience, that grit or whatever you like to call it. The ones that, you know, will keep going no matter how many times they get pushed down, but every time they get pushed down, they're listening, they're taking in new information they're seeing what they can learn from their past experience.

    Matt Lewis 11:46
    I hear that referred to as an adversity quotient.

    Shawn Flynn 11:52
    Oh, really?

    Matt Lewis 11:54
    Yeah, that's a nice term.

    Shawn Flynn 11:55
    All right, I'm going to use that for the rest of the day.

    Matt Lewis 11:57
    Doesn't matter how high your IQ is, it's your AQ?

    Shawn Flynn 12:00
    Yeah. But those are the founders that I've seen come here and do do a good job. Rebranding their product, talking to investors. A lot of the times—going back to what I said earlier—they don't have kind of a realistic vision of what actually happens here in Silicon Valley time wise, recruitment wise. To get in a person from Google to work on your team. You just don't walk up to them. You have to sell them that your idea is going to pay off better for them in the long run than what they're currently doing. And I mean, most of these founders, especially you know Europe, anywhere in the world, they can't pay what local rates are. So they really have to sell the vision. And they still need those engineers to get anything done. Or, you know, the marketers, the sales people, the anyone on their team. They may have been big deals back in their hometown, they may have had all this growth, this success, but then come in here where no one's heard of them. They don't have that support as local hero. Sometimes they feel a little overwhelmed.

    Matt Lewis 13:17
    Welcome to the wealthy and wise segment of our show where we share with you a tip related to today's theme. In this episode, we've been talking about moving to Silicon Valley. Now we may be broadcasting the show from Menlo Park, but many of you are tuning in from other states and from other countries. There's a good reason for that. Chief among them: Silicon Valley is a really welcoming place for new arrivals and especially for foreign entrepreneurs. Let me share with you some statistics. Did you know that in Silicon Valley, one in three people are foreign born? And that nearly three and four tech workers are foreign born? And lastly, that over the past two decades, over half of US unicorns—that is private companies worth over a billion dollars—that they were started by an immigrant founder. The majority of them are based in Silicon Valley. So, today are wealthy and wise tip is for the cross border entrepreneurs among us. If you are contemplating a move to Silicon Valley, well, I have some shocking news to start with. Here goes, the US has a very unusual approach to taxes. You see the United States taxes both its citizens and green card holders on their global income. That's regardless of where you choose to live. Americans may think this is normal, however, it's anything but. Let me make it clear to you. If you get a green card, and then move away from the US, our federal tax authorities, known as the IRS will still expect you to pay taxes on your income, regardless of where you're earning it. Believe it or not, the only other country in the world that does this is Eritrea. Why on earth, Eritrea followed our lead on this? I have no idea. So before you relocate to Silicon Valley and become a resident of the US, you may want to plan ahead. This is particularly important if you have significant income and assets outside of the US. That's because the moment you establish residency, those assets will become exposed to US tax jurisdiction. Here are some examples of what could happen and how you can prepare in advance. Let's say you've owned a house outside of the US for 10 years and it's worth a lot. If you sell the house the day after you become a US resident, you owe taxes to the IRS on the capital gain. Now that doesn't seem quite fair does it? So you may want to consider selling the house before you become a US resident. Another option would be to transfer the house instead of selling it. You could do this in such a way that you still control the asset but from the perspective of the US, you have affected a sale of that house. The idea behind the strategy is to establish a higher taxable base on the asset so that only the subsequent appreciation that occurs after you've moved to the US will be exposed to US taxes. One more piece of advice, if you want to delay the tax consequences of becoming a US resident, consider coming to the US and the second half of the calendar year. This could help you avoid residency until the next calendar year, by which time—hopefully—you will have taken some measures to prepare for your US tax residency. Mind you, these are complex matters. We've given you some general rules of thumb that will make sense most the time, but not always. If you want more nuanced advice, feel free to reach out to me for a consultation at West And that concludes our wealthy and wise tip. Now back to the main attraction, our interview with Shawn Flynn.

    Matt Lewis 16:56
    What could you comment on with regard to the cultural barriers? So especially, let's say founders from, from China, founders from Russia, there's a language barrier. There's sometimes a heavy accent. They have difficulty communicating getting across ideas. What would your advice be to such founders who want to be a success in Silicon Valley?

    Shawn Flynn 17:21
    So the first step is to find the networks that are not based on the same country that you're from. What I mean by that is—I'll just stick with China right now, just because it'll be the simplest and then from that, it could spill over to, you know, Ukraine, Russia, Europe, anywhere. But a lot of Chinese founders when they come here, the first thing they do is, they find people from their home city. You know, That person's from Shanghai, that person went to the same university as I did, which you know, is good. But then they get stuck in that group. And there's only so many VCs and angels that are from that city, there's only so many engineers that are from that city. And people get in this kind of rut where they never build their network. And they get stuck there. If their company grows and succeeds, people will come to them. But if they're struggling at the beginning, they don't branch out. I haven't really seen that high of a success rate. But then one thing that's really interesting about Silicon Valley is: so many of the founders here are immigrants, so many of them are from other countries. I think it's one in three, it is very accepting that even if there is a language barrier, even if there is a cultural barrier, there could be a lot of things. People are very welcoming, and people are very open. And they want to help newcomers here. So I've actually seen—with a lot of the people from overseas kind of a divide. You have one group that's very shy, very introverted, and they never build a network. And then you have the other group that's a little bit extroverted, a little bit outgoing, and they build a huge network. And then there's this little chasm inbetween. And I'd say, they actually might have an advantage over Americans in the fact that if people see them make an effort they want to help them they go, "Oh, my God, he's, he's trying or she's trying, and I want to help them" more than someone that's, I guess, local, you'd say. I mean, if you're a little bit outgoing, and you're from overseas, and people want to hear your story. They they want to hear what brought you there. The struggles or the accomplishments or who you are I mean. As funny as it sounds, you might actually be more interesting because, you know, people are curious of where you're coming from. So, with that being said, I just wanted, you know, expand your network. I see it also with older people when they come here, that maybe they don't try to build a network of all ages. They try to work with people just kind of in their age gap, where in Silicon Valley, there's—and actually I'd say anywhere in the world, but here especially—you benefit from people of all ages, all experiences, all backgrounds, and having an open mind to include them in conversations and build that relationship is very beneficial.

    Matt Lewis 20:37
    It's interesting what you're saying, it's given me some thoughts on the experiences I've had in the valley. For instance, because you know, I speak Russian, I live in Russia for some time. If you have these cultural connections, you can ask people to do things that they might otherwise not consider. That cultural affinity definitely helps. But if if I were Russian and I were spending all of my time with Russians in Silicon Valley, that would be limiting. That would be a mistake. And we see those mistakes made often. If you were to connect with someone from a different cultural group—I have a good friend who's who's Indian—and through him, I'm able to tap into the, you know, Indian IT community here and it's huge, and with without that relationship, I wouldn't get to the table with them. So I think there are these, like critical connectors. If you build a relationship in a community, then that whole community is going to open up to you.

    Shawn Flynn 21:40
    Definitely, and I'd say the communities are more welcoming, more open to working with outsiders in many regards. Because, well one they think, "okay, this person is not going to tell everyone what's going on," and they also kind of see it as "this person prize and network I'm not connected to and I could leverage that."

    Matt Lewis 22:04
    One mistake that I see a lot of startups from abroad make is that they'll get together in a delegation—so they'll come from, let's say, France, or Lithuania—you got you got this country that your average american can't find on a map. If 10 startups from this country—let's call it Lithuania—and they're going through the Bay Area, they got events and meetings. It's a curiosity. There's so many startups in this in this country, from Eastern Europe. Okay. But that's not the way VCs think they don't really care where you're from, they care what you can do. So to present yourself in a bundle with all kinds of other startups in the same country seems just kind of silly. And for some reason, this happens over and over again. Can you comment on that?

    Shawn Flynn 22:56
    Well, what I think is funny is, so I guess there's two parts that I'd like to comment on. One is, when these groups, these delegations come to Silicon Valley, they're met with a room full of angels and VCs, and they think that's amazing, but they don't realize how much effort went into recruiting those angels and VCs and how much of that are the VCs just doing someone they know a favor to be there? Because the VCs— unless it's in their investment thesis that they went and raised their funds on that says, "Yes, I'll invest in third world countries,"—they're not going to write a check, no matter what. I mean, they have to follow the guidelines that they raised the capital on. And angels, most of them don't want to invest in any thing that's not in driving distance in a sector that they're familiar with. So, in an audience of 100 people, I'd say 95 of them are not even an option for them to write a check or do anything for the companies on on stage that are at that show.

    Matt Lewis 24:02
    So it's just a show at the end of the day.

    Shawn Flynn 24:04
    Exactly. It's just pictures, just pictures that they can take. And it's a shame. And then the second part to that is, most of these delegations I find, don't actually know what they want when they come to Silicon Valley. And what I mean by that is, you'll get a university from overseas, they'll come here and the first thing they'll say is "okay, I want to meet an autonomous car startup, I want to meet a Big Data company. And I want to take a tour of Google". And the same goes for a delegation of politicians: "we want a tour Google, we want a tour Facebook, we want a tour of IBM." But at the same time, none of them really have their goals of what they want to get out of this tour. I mean, if I was the university, I would think, "okay, maybe it's better to have a founder that worked at a corporation that then start a startup, just talk about the experience, maybe it'd be better to have a person from the corporate world talked about, their daily life here in Silicon Valley and get these experiences because maybe the goal is for these university students for when they graduate to kind of know what they want to do more with their life and maybe have those first connections to Silicon Valley." And the delegation of government officials—maybe they should actually be talking to city planners and city council members about what it's like to run a city with all these startups: how the laws change in time to accommodate the new technology. Are there any permits or special promotions or incentives that they can give to attract startups? Instead of just the "I want to take a picture in front of the Google building or the IBM building". And I see this quite a bit where people just come here on these predetermined tours, just take pictures in front of buildings go back home, and there's no follow up. And it just doesn't make sense.

    Matt Lewis 26:07
    Yeah, there's a term that is pretty common here among locals and that is: "Innovation Theater". You have people come to Silicon Valley, they take a photograph in front of Facebook, they have some meetings, but they don't really have substance to them. And at the end of the day, it's just the show, maybe they leave realizing that, maybe it takes a couple of trips, but it's really sad. There's quite an industry around this theater of innovation. I would hate for Silicon Valley to be associated with—

    Shawn Flynn 26:42
    With a TV show or anything?

    Matt Lewis 26:46
    I think, you know, .... yours is not theater. You have real practitioners ....

    Shawn Flynn 26:52
    I was thinking the HBO show, but if you put mine in that category. Yes, yes. Yes, we are that big.

    Matt Lewis 27:03
    Let's talk about for a second success stories, who have you seen come to the Bay Area and just defy expectations and do very well. And and how did they pull it off? It wasn't just a matter of luck was it?

    Shawn Flynn 27:17
    So the ones that I've seen that have done very well are the ones that have come with a plan. And it's maybe their second or third trip. And what I mean by that is they've come here for a few weeks, checked out the lay of the land, went back to their home country saw what they needed, come back again, and they've done this a few times. And then when they actually do relocate permanently they've had this network built out and this roadmap and they actually understand, "okay, this is how much funding I'll need this is how much salaries actually are this is how fast paced things is how to get meetings." And so for example, I met one person that was here that had a start up, who came here just for two weeks, went to every event possible and collected every card in the room. And, you know, I didn't think anything of it. But then next thing I know, he added me on LinkedIn, he's asking me for intros to all these people on and I, you know, I did make a few intros to, mostly out of just—God, I respected kind of the hustle more than anything—but I thought about it. I'm like, "I bet this guy when he was here in those two weeks, probably got 2, 300 contacts, followed up with all of them, reached out to ask them to make intros probably got maybe 500 contacts out of his two trips. Has has the meetings lined up for his next visit when he comes here in order with people that he knows will benefit him," I'm sure he did the background on every person going, Okay, this guy's an investor, this guy's works in this service industry. And that's one thing that I want to say that people don't take advantage of: the service industries here. The lawyers, the accountants, bookkeepers, any of the ones that work with startups. There's a huge industry here, people that for the last 20, 30 years have only worked with startups. And these people have an insane network. It's just incredible how many introductions and accounting can make but no one ever asked the accountant to make any.

    Matt Lewis 29:27
    Interesting insight.

    Shawn Flynn 29:28
    It's true. I mean, I've talked to these people, you know, this one guy know, HR. I asked him was like, "Oh, you know, how have you ever worked with any, you know, big name stars?" He was like "I was HR for Uber. I was HR—" and he just started naming some. I was like "wait what" he goes, "Oh yeah, but once they get to, you know, so many 500 people or that they outgrow our services, so then, you know, I pass them on these people." And I was thinking, "so you've actually sat down with all these CEOs?" He's like, "Oh yeah, for years I had to because we had to talk about their growth plans." And this person, I bet you anything, could get on a call or text or that any of these CEOs that are untouchable right now. But not only that is

    Matt Lewis 30:09
    What a network.

    Shawn Flynn 30:10
    Yeah. But they also worked with the lawyers at the same time that helped these companies grow, and all the other service industries that help these companies grow. And these people know, you know, other people in the valley, which angels actually invested in which VCs who were the ones that had the good terms, who's the ones that are good to work with, great to work with. But people just say, "hey what's your rates?" And then yes or no, and that's it. They never ask anyone or look on their LinkedIn, who they're actually connected to, you know, what their portfolios of companies they've helped. So that so that's just one insight tip for for your listeners to really take advantage of the service experts in Silicon Valley because they have a wealth of knowledge, they have a wealth of experience and they have a wealth of contacts. And back to the person—

    Matt Lewis 30:58
    That's great advice.

    Shawn Flynn 30:59
    —that I say it was a success. He just really tapped into all that. And yeah, and there's been other companies that I'd say have landed and done well, in Silicon Valley. We helped a couple of Chinese companies come here, but at the same time, they were heavily funded, and they couldn't mess up for years and still have enough runway that—

    Shawn Flynn 31:24
    Yeah— they would be okay.

    Matt Lewis 31:24
    I've seen a few of those.

    Matt Lewis 31:28
    Yeah, if anything, that's a disadvantage because they tend to get lazy and just just waste that money.

    Shawn Flynn 31:32

    Matt Lewis 31:34
    And move very slowly.

    Shawn Flynn 31:37
    It's kind of funny how some of these companies go, "well, we just are in Silicon Valley to make our investors at home happy." I'm like, "really? Your your investors at home are happy with you burning that much money? Okay, that's fine with us because we are happy accepting it

    Matt Lewis 31:52
    Out of curiosity, where was the gentleman, from what part of the world?

    Shawn Flynn 31:55
    Actually he was from the US. He was from a small town—trying to think of the name of it. But it was somwhere—

    Matt Lewis 32:01
    Somewhere in the Midwest?

    Shawn Flynn 32:04
    Yeah. He was definitely the only entrepreneur in the town. I don't even he went to college. I think he just graduated from high school and he's like, "yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do a startup." I was like, "Okay, good luck, buddy." And his startup was just online classes. But you know, I mean, I can't tell you today how it's doing but I can definitely say at that time from first time I talked to him the last time I talked to him It went from nothing to at least something.

    Matt Lewis 32:35
    Anything on the negative side? Maybe it's not negative but perceived as negative by a newcomer? I'll give you a get one example comes to mind, I heard a term the othe day: perma-smile. People who are just constantly smiling. You know people are nice in California but it's polite to to be positive all the time and that can be exhausting for people from another culture where smiling isn't very common. You know, they they have fatigue in their cheek muscles by the end of the day.

    Shawn Flynn 33:03
    I haven't heard that one. I would say that there is kind of the negative of—as politically incorrect as might say—that Silicon Valley's just, you know, this old white guy. Was it the old old gentleman's club? Or the good old boys network? I would I would disagree with that highly, if you know the area. And what I mean by that is, there's so many VC groups, angel groups, that focus on women and minorities that focus on this group that focuses on that group, but they may not have that much publicity or they may not go to the same meetups as the ones you've heard about or have the same, you know, marketing PR exposure, but they're out there, there's actually a ton of them. I'm surprised that every time I meet one, they tell me about three or four others. Oh, and that's another thing. I don't find people when they first come here asking enough questions. I see them listening a lot, which is good but they don't necessarily—maybe because it's uncomfortable, or maybe it's a cultural thing of respect people older than you respect people with higher degrees or titles behind their name—but I don't see them asking questions that can save them a lot of time. Just such as you know: "are you an active investor? What other angel groups would you recommend you know of any meetups that you think I should attend to? What are the best ways to get meetings with these companies?" Oh, the list can go on and on. And, that's something that I don't see people do enough of. But yeah, for that negative, I think that a lot of it goes away once people learn about the area more and ask questions.

    Matt Lewis 35:07
    You know, I agree with you. There's some, there's some dissonance here with regard to political correctness, the old boys network, all these, you know, old white guys doing deals in a back room. You know, the truth is somewhere in the middle, we have numerous examples of people getting fired because they said the wrong word in the wrong context. They didn't mean any harm by it, but the organization they're in is very politically correct, and they get canned for it. There are examples of that. There are examples of people moving away from Silicon Valley because they think it's too liberal. On the other hand, it is very accepting, it is very diverse, it is very open minded. I don't think someone from another culture would feel like they don't have access to the right people in Silicon Valley. So yeah, there's these two messages and they, they contradict each other. And the truth is somewhere between.

    Shawn Flynn 36:04
    I mean, I definitely say you could find both here. It just depends what circles you run in.

    Matt Lewis 36:12
    Yeah. Okay. Well, let me just recap what I heard from you. And maybe you want to tighten up a few of the points you made. I created a little checklist based on what I heard. So number one was: build your network. If you're coming a Silicon Valley. Get to work on building that network as early as possible. Define your goals: understand what you're actually trying to achieve. And then once you arrive, you want to adjust your goals: adjust your plan with some kind of feedback loop. You had an idea of what you wanted to achieve. Or how Silicon Valley works, come to find out no, there's a different mentality or there's a different way of doing things. So you have to adjust your plan for that new information. Obviously, do your research and you gave an example of a fellow who had done that. And then last but not least, avoid innovation theater, don't be wowed by all the, you know, the pretty show and the smoke and mirrors and the VCs who don't have a mandate to invest in your sector. Let's see any parting thoughts, any messages you'd like to impart before we sign off?

    Shawn Flynn 37:26
    I guess well, another thing is, people think that if you come to Silicon Valley, you have to be a computer engineer, you have to be a programmer. When in reality, a startup past its early infancy really needs all the components of big corporation in some sense, it's just maybe you have fewer people doing more roles. I mean, the marketing, the sales, Biz Dev, the product development, all those may just be one person. But, I mean, if you're a history major, you might find a place here doing copywriting. I'm sure you're a good writer or doing research. What I'm trying to say is, there's a lot of opportunities for anyone in Silicon Valley, not just this pigeonholed stereotype of programmers. It's for people that are anywhere in the world, any background, there is something here for you. So I wanted to say more than anything. If you're interested in trying something new and expanding your horizons, this might be a good place for you.

    Matt Lewis 38:37
    Yeah, and I would just add that if you are coming this way from abroad or another state in the US: look up, Shawn, look up me. We want to make you feel welcome. If you do your research, if you are persistent, we'd be happy to open up our network to you.

    Shawn Flynn 38:56

    Matt Lewis 38:57
    Alright. Well, thank you so much, Shawn. I think our listeners have learned a lot, and I look forward to tuning into your podcast.

    Shawn Flynn 39:05
    Thank you, so for everyone listening, it's the investors podcast. It's on their platform called Silicon Valley. And you can reach me at And Matt, thank you again for this opportunity.

    Matt Lewis 39:18
    The pleasure was all mine, Shawn.

    Matt Lewis 39:22
    Please be aware that the information provided in today's episode is for educational purposes only. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to get to know you. So I'm not in a position to give advice that will suit your particular needs. I do provide investment advice to my clients as a fiduciary at Westbridge Wealth Management. But there I'm able to tailor my advice to their unique circumstances. I encourage you to use the Wealth Boot Camp Podcast as a learning platform, but please bear in mind, we're providing education, not investment, legal or tax advice. And with that, let's return to our program.

    Matt Lewis 40:00
    Thank you for tuning in to this episode of Wealth Bootcamp. We're a community for entrepreneurs where we make sure you're building personal wealth, even as you build your company. If there were any parts of today's show you'd like to revisit, you can locate them quickly by running a search of the show's written transcript. You'll find all our transcripts at on the podcast page, as well as show notes and links to all the authors and books we've mentioned. Be sure to tune in next week when we'll be discussing how commercial real estate can be part of your portfolio. Until then, have a great week. And thanks again from Wealth Bootcamp.

    Information provided by Westbridge Wealth Management, LLC and/or Wealth Bootcamp®, whether through the Wealth Bootcamp podcast or any other public media, is not meant to be and shall not be construed as a general guide to investing, or as a source of any specific investment recommendations. Such information is provided for illustrative purposes only and shall not constitute a recommendation of any investment strategy or product for a particular investor. Investors should consult a financial advisor/financial consultant before making any investment decisions.

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