After making it into the Top 10 at the Lisbon Challenge, the traveling began.
We went to New York City last week, are currently in São Paulo now before and will be off to London next week to meet investors and attend Demo Days, where we’ll pitch our startups to an audience. Here’s a recap of our time in NYC.
As all our flights departed from Lisbon, I had to go there first. On Sunday, our group flew out to Boston. There, we had an apartment for 5 of us. As I don’t have my home base in Lisbon, I travel with 26 kg of awesomeness all the time (everything for NYC, São Paulo and London), which was quiet entertaining to the group. As I am the only girl on this trip, I fulfilled the clichê of always taking a walk-in closet with me.
The next morning, we took our stuff, stopped by at Mike’s Diner for a “real American breakfast”. Pancakes, eggs, filter coffee – and of course way more than you can wish for.
Again, I have to say that foursquare was the tool to use. Afterwards, we went to MassChallenge, an accelerator program in Boston. They showed us around, explained the program, and got us excited about it, the chances waiting for us out there, and also the astonishing view. If you’re a startup that has raised less than $500k, you should consider them as a great option to get in touch with the American market.
Immediately afterwards, I made sure to make my way to the nearest T-Mobile Store. This is advice for all the data addicted: T-Mobile offers a sim card for $10 and a “pay $3/day for unlimited internet, calls and texts” deal. It’s what I always go for when flying over to the States, because I hate not having data and this is an outstanding deal.
We then took the Bold Bus to New York. And it was actually pretty cool. It took about 4 hours, but –welcome to the bus of opportunities– all busses give you free access to their wifi network and –and this is super cool as well– power stations, one on each seat. With our bus being half empty, everyone was able to charge their computer and their phone during the drive, chat with friends, or get work done. Very useful!! Call it nerdish, but sit in my seat and you’ll feel the excitement!
In New York, I stayed at an Airbnb room in “Hell’s Kitchen”. As I was tired, I decided to check out a good thai place on foursquare, found it 2 blocks away and stayed in afterwards because I had an early meeting the next day.
A program was scheduled for us for the day, so after my morning meeting, I went downtown to meet the others. As there were 2 hours of free time until we were to meet at tumblr for an office tour, I decided to head over to 5th Avenue real quick to visit my favorite store: Kate Spade New York.
As always, it was like entering Wonderland. Kate Spade figured out how to build a story around the brand that is not only told inside the store, but also through all of their social media channels. I love the sparkling, city girl, glitter, yay yay idea and everything they do.
After that personal highlight, it was time to meet the group. Tumblr. I talked my way through the doorman, which, by the way, you find in pretty much every building, and made it up to the office. I managed to confuse everybody until we realized the meeting was canceled and I needed to go to the AOL office to meet the group for a tour at the Huffington Post office. Brandon from the Huffington Post Labs gave us great insights about the ideas the lab works on and how things go. We were able to walk through the newsroom, and got to see the TV production. Pretty awesome place! Adriana’s office is right in the middle of it, but she wasn’t in that day.
The day ended with people from an accelerator program that I don’t want to mention by name, because I hope that they are good guys, but the way they presented themselves (yes, after a long, long day) was so arrogant and ignorant that I don’t have anything nice to say. At least, knowing I didn’t have anything to lose, I managed to pitch a “fill in the blank” pitch, where I let the other participants fill in words to my pitch, because they heard it 500 times already. Yes, it was a lot of fun!
The evening went much nicer. I met a friend I know from Hamburg. We haven’t seen each other in years, as he moved to NYC. It was good to catch up, see his point of view for a few things and hear what is really happening in New York.
The next day started at WeWork, a co-working space, near the World Trade Center. Recommended for startups as they offer meet ups, opportunities to connect, etc… The surrounding is super cool, and if I moved to NYC tomorrow, I would absolutely try to get one of the $400/month desks, which sounds very reasonable for New York standards. We walked to other co-working spaces throughout the day, but there was not much excitement to share with you. WeWork is worth a visit, and we managed to talk to one of the Portuguese startups, who made their way to NYC and could tell us how things run.
Lunch break. Time to walk over to Banana Republic, a stop I have to do when I’m in the U.S., before grabbing food and running over to the location we later on that day had our pitch at.
Upfront, we were told to prepare a one minute pitch and to have a 5 minute one ready for the 5 investors we would talk to individually. Shortly before starting, that was changed to a three minute pitch. It doesn’t sound like a big deal to those who pitch everyday, but it is in fact, because you have to figure out what the most important part is and which part you would like to move to the Q&A’s.
Worked though. The room wasn’t as full as predicted, but I was fine with that as I feel I’m still in the learning process and that way I counted it as an exercise.
After dinner, I went home. Though I usually go out for drinks and stuff, I knew the next day would ask for a 100% Feli, and with the jet lag I decided to be the grown up and not the silly one. For a change! ; )
And it was worth it!! Again, I woke up really early, which was great for doing my emails and stuff. I always scheduled more time to get to the places where we met up, not only because I know I’m great at getting lost, but also because I love walking through the neighborhood to get a feeling for it.
That Thursday morning, we went to Brooklyn, to be specific: to the area called DUMBO.
And it was wooooaaaah! Between the old warehouse buildings you find a lot of design shops, small businesses and homemade things. The right place to put Etsy’s office, where we were invited to visit and got a tour through a stunning office, that from the perspective of inspiration and craziness, is only comparable to the San Francisco HQ of Airbnb.
The day in DUMBO was nuts, really cool spaces and people and at the end of the day a party hosted by Google, introducing “Google City Experts”, a platform to get the best recommendations from users for a town (yeah, what a brand new idea, but let’s see how it goes). I met a few interesting people, e.g. Brady from technically.brooklyn who writes a tech/startup blog about what’s happening in Brooklyn right now and said, that there are a lot of Germans hanging out at DUMBO at the moment.
Again, I didn’t stay out long, because I had a meeting early the next day, that turned out to be pretty good. I took my huge suitcase
with me and afterwards went straight to the bus station to get back to Boston. But before
getting there, my bus broke down in the middle of the highway! Other busses
stopped for us, picked us up and I made it back to Boston in time to catch my flight, but that part of excitement was worth mentioning!
Yes, Tuesday to Friday, time is over. Time to fly back
to Li sbon home to Lisbon home to Lisbon before taking off to São Paulo.
Bottom line: Life is awesome and it hasn’t been as exciting in a long time! Hurray!
And with the current craziness it was much easier to leave the U.S. than it usually is.