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Over the past few days the graduating teams from the first three month stage of the 2013 Startmate program have been arriving in San Francisco, preparing to begin their assault on the investors, customers and media of Silicon Valley.

I happened to catch the same flight as Serg Belokamen from BugCrowd and, since I had a rental car, gave him a lift to his hotel.

Adelaide Hostel entrance

Street performer paid to act like a homeless person adds authentic gritty feel to the otherwise 5-star accommodation favoured by Startmate in San Francisco

Sorry, did I say “hotel”? I meant “hostel”. It’s great to see Startmate continues its tradition of not spending any more than necessary to get the job done. The dorm rooms the Startmate teams are booked into at the Adelaide Hostel start at $28/night. Is the neighbourhood unsavoury? In the last few blocks to the address we played a new trivia game: “crack whore or just whore?”. As I pulled the Prius into the dead-way alley fronting the hostel, a homeless man rifled the industrial bins for recyclable waste. Well, at least it’s sustainable accommodation…

Anyway, when you’re a tech startup, where you sleep matters less than where you work, and the Startmate teams have a great office — the vast, tastefully designed workspaces of StartupHQ are only a few blocks away and full of other startups to network with.


Serg from BugCrowd indicates how impressed the teams are with their shared office space at StartupHQ in San Francisco

It’s soon showtime

The first big pitch event is in two days’ time, at the iconic 500Startups in Mountain View, and the teams need this time to get a US SIM card, work out some laptop internet access, find a place to eat and drink, and catch up on queues of customer email left unanswered since they left Sydney (it piles up so fast).

If you’ve never been to this part of the world, San Francisco and Silicon Valley form the Western side of a region called the “Bay Area” which (duh) wraps around San Francisco Bay. The Bay Area is bounded on the Eastern side by the cities of Oakland, Hayward and Fremont, and to the south, San Jose. What they call “Silicon Valley” forms a strip about 65km long and 10km wide down the western edge of the bay from the city of San Francisco’s southern edge to San Jose.

The current generation of startups tend to favour locations in the south of the city, though many are drawn further down the valley to cheap/free office space provided by their investors, or to be closer to business customers spread out on corporate campuses all the way to San Jose.

Silicon Valley map

Rough location guide to Silicon Valley tech startup industry

Transport can be a planning headache, because driving to/from the city is a long way — about the same distance as Melbourne city to Healesville or Sydney city to Campbelltown. The BART train system goes the length of the bay but its stations are rarely closer than 30mins walk from where you want to be, so some opt to BART it to the closest station and then bicycle, get a taxi or Uber car the last few KMs. Rental cars are a little cheaper than in Australia but expensive to park overnight if you’re staying in the city. Think we need to talk to Aussie expat Elias at StartupBus about a twice daily shuttle up and down 101 😉

Got questions about living and working in Silicon Valley and San Francisco? Or questions for some of the Startmate teams? Let us know… 

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