Filmmaker finds S.F. startup scene driven by passion, ego, and tunnel-vision

Silicon Valley is a hallowed place for entrepreneurs. People from all over the world make the pilgrimage to the San Francisco Bay Area with hopes of fame, fortunate, and venture capital. However, like most places of legend, the boundaries between reality and myth can be blurry for those gazing from afar.

In an effort to uncover the truth about the American startup scene, Australian entrepreneur Simon Walker embarked upon a quest. He flew around the world to visit 10 American cities in 20 days. He met with local members of the startup community and created a video series called the Leeap Project documenting his journey. His goal is to provide a comprehensive and accurate representation of startup life in those areas and inspire people around the world to start (and invest) in emerging companies.

The latest installment of the Leeap Project takes place in San Francisco. Walker and I met for coffee shortly after his arrival to discuss the project. Due to my perpetual lateness, he was forced to wait for 15 minutes on a street corner of questionable character. Fortunately, he did not hold this against me, and we were able to discuss the local entrepreneurial ecosystem over black coffees.

“People in Australia and New Zealand get a skewed perspective on startups,” he said. “Their perception is generalized to all of America, and they think that everyone that wants to have a startup can just get cash easily. Back in Melbourne, I really wanted to know what life was really like here for entrepreneurs and knew others who felt the same. I am trying to create an educated, informed, and outside perspective.”

While here, Walker stayed at the Villa of Bravo’s Silicon Valley reality show infamy. He met with local influencers and discovered a few key points about San Francisco. First and foremost, he realized that referring to the city as “San Fran” is the kiss of death.

I reconnected with Walker after he returned to Australia and finished this video to find out what else he learned.

“One unique aspect about S.F. seemed to be the capability to raise funds on an idea fueled by passion, rather than a proven business with preexisting traction and users/customers,” he said. “Most of the entrepreneurs I spoke with also seemed to have very much an insular or ‘tunnel vision’ view toward things. Everyone in S.F. seems to be so completely consumed with their own startup that the bigger picture sometimes didn’t even come into view.”

Watch the full video below:

Check out the first installment of the Leeap Project in Los Angeles.

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