I N C R E D I B L E is the word that springs to mind to describe our recent trip to the US!
The two week start-up tour of the US, organised by the New Venture Institute at Flinders University took us from San Francisco to SXSW at Austin and New York City.
But let’s start at the beginning…..
The reason The Good Scout exists is to ensure more people are having an amazing time while exploring Australia. And the problem within this statement is that accurate information is hard to find when you have specific needs, so we have been working away at solving this problem and this trip has brought us that much closer to a solution!
The lead up to the trip was a little overwhelming to be honest, we had a huge amount of research to undertake on all the speakers we were going to meet, speakers we hoped to meet and of course research on what tourist attractions we wanted to check out if time permitted! Plus continuing to build our platform and run a family! The normal challenges of an early stage business!
On the plane flight over I still wasn’t sure I had done enough prep, but we were on our way and these meetings were happening, ready or not. Of course, the preparation was enough and this was not the time to let fear stop us from asking questions, talking about our barriers to growing our business or letting any opportunity slide by. After all isn’t America the Land of Opportunity?
Our expectations from the trip were pretty simple, walk away from this trip with some well defined goals to chase on returning home, how to use social purpose to create awareness and to think bigger than Australia, not because we want to crack into an international market, just to make sure we keep a better eye on what is happening globally.
The first few days in San Francisco were HUGE, we started up with an introduction to the US business scene and some friendly reminders about looking after your own health and well being. I think our vocabulary expanded on day one to include a huge amount of start up lingo that definitely needed some captions! This lingo notably excludes tall poppy syndrome, this is apparently an Australian thing, and most definitely includes hustle and confidence.
Even amongst all this lingo and talk, the message is still clear – have a go and keep having a go until you find the right solution to the problem you are solving! No having a go is the only form of failure in this field.
There also seemed to be an underlying message about the human connection and relationships, including seeking a ‘warm introduction’ for whomever you are trying to strike up a conversation with. Tied in with a reminder around the impact you have on real people when creating something new or disrupting a sector. Jeff Bleich gave us an example from under the Obama leadership ‘do the right thing, because its the right thing to do’. This was further confirmed at the Box office, with their values which include ‘Make mom proud’!
This human connection is so important in growing The Good Scout, we are always actively strengthen connections with tourism operators, so they understand the real impact they can have when they get the mix of accessibility and experience right! And it is the right thing to do, so no one has to miss out.
Austin bound, where we had the flexibility to attend a huge range of sessions at SXSW. There was seriously something for everyone, we sat in on sessions from assistive technology, purpose for good, pitch sessions, storytelling, brand workshops, political climate, inclusivity, travel and social meet ups and everything in between. This combined with some cool interactive displays put on by some global leaders like Sony, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. had us talking to robots, watching sushi being 3d printed and the list goes on.
One of the highlights of our trip was that we were selected by Austrade to represent South Australia as a leader in innovation and this gave us the opportunity to showcase our business in the SXSW Australia House trade show. This meant we had exposure to some of the 75000+ foot traffic that head to the conference every year, which translates into the fact that we had some fantastic conversations that would not have happened if it wasn’t for this opportunity. This ticket also got us an invite to a Global Innovation Forum where director’s of PayPal, Intuit, Lyft, amongst others where asking ‘us’ how they can support the start up ecosystem and what are some of the challenges we have faced! Wow. And between these two events, we had some very exciting conversations, so stay tuned!
After six days of SXSW we headed up to New York for the final leg of the tour. It is hard not to be impressed with New York. Was it busy yes, chaotic, no! The deft scheduling from the New Venture Institute enabled us to hear from some great founders, Australians and American’s alike who are have established business in the city. I was absolutely taken with Visnja Brdar, an exclusive jewelry designer, her approach to building the business she wanted by sticking to her gut instinct or searching for perfection has now paid dividends. Plus a fresh reminder that the first customer is one of, if not the biggest milestone in a start up journey, it was great to hear these founders talk about that ‘first’ as if it was yesterday!
One of the things that surprised me most was the camaraderie from the other founders on the trip and the keenness I felt from everyone wanting to help one other, no matter what stage of the journey and no matter what industry people were operating within. And from all the guest presenters, the message about being connected with warm introductions.
In summary, the world seems a little smaller and bigger from where I am sitting after this trip. Bigger, because we are still at that very first trench, but smaller because of the connections and tech we were introduced to makes our vision seem like a real possibility now. Very excited about this stage of growing The Good Scout!