Ellis Island for Entrepreneurs – SVStartup.com


Silicon Valley has long been the destination for entrepreneurs looking to live the American Dream by building something in their free time, taking lots of VC money, and cashing out a billion dollars in stock options. Yet there’s a lack of information on the basics of how to go about doing that.

Even for US entrepreneurs, many aren’t even sure what neighborhood they should live in let alone how to go about meeting Mark Zuckerberg. Move to Silicon Valley? Or San Francisco Proper? (Hint: Not the Tenderloin!)

That’s why when Jonathan Nelson from Hackers and Founders suggested that we needed a wiki for entrepreneurs moving to the San Francisco Bay area, I jumped on it as one of my Four Startups in Four Weeks.

MVP and Fast iteration

To recap, my goal this month is to create at least four MVPs to practice executing the lean startup methodology. Why? Because theory is great, but practice is where I learn.

One of the many nice things about this project is that it took almost no time to setup. Including time spent searching for a domain name (SVstartup.com), setting up the hosting, and getting mediawiki installed, it probably it took under 2 hours to have something up and running.

So in terms of hitting my goals of building a minimally viable product without any extra fat, this certainly qualifies. I only put an extra 15 minutes in to create a logo of sorts. A wiki also allows for the fastest iteration time possible. Anyone can edit it and the results go live immediately. So far so good.

Bootstrapping Content

My biggest issue in making the wiki actually useful is that I have no idea what I’m doing. Not that I don’t know all about moving to San Francisco as an entrepreneur. I did that last year and I still know all the hoops I had to jump through to find the right places to live, meet people etc. I can certainly write as much as I can over the next few weeks.

But a wiki revolves around User Generated Content (UGC), not just my musings. Otherwise it will just wind up as a blog.

I have no idea how to go about encouraging UGC. How much content do I have to bootstrap before I can expect others to contribute?

In other words, my MVP might not be sufficient to really provide value or create a community unless I put extra effort into generating some content. But how much before I decide that the customer demand for this product is insufficient to warrant the effort?

Help Wanted

I have no real answers, only guesses. So here’s a question for you dear reader, what would it take to make SVstartup.com useful? What would it take to get you to contribute?

UPDATE: Already, since I started writing this post on Monday, Jonathan posted SVstartup.com to Hacker News and we’ve received 5,500 visitors. Some articles are being written and organized and we’ve discovered there are some other location based wikis. We’re talking now about how to do a national one instead of fractured wikis.

Discussion (4 comments)

  1. Kevin Carroll says:

    Tristan, I would argue there is too much information and not enough time to understand it, experience it and implement it wisely. The service industry lives off of that . People help people and we are are motivated to do so for many reasons. Figure out how to quantify “help” economically (i.e. ask “what’s it worth to you if I help you …?”) then build the infrastructure to multiply “you” and scale each “you”. Tap into the inate need for others to help others. It seems to me there are a lot of them (us)! Accomplish that and UGC will explode and focus on the “infrastructure” of personal attention.

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  3. Tristan says:

    Thanks, this is purely a for fun project and to save some time. It’s very clear from the constant barrage of queries that the basic information regarding moving to SV is not out there. It doesn’t seem to be the case that there is too much of it.

  4. Bert Baeck says:

    I made a link to SVstartup on my Blog! Nice initiative…

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