It was business time.
We’d spent a day looking at the big guys in tech, Facebook and Google. We’d spent a day looking around smaller startups to see how the faster paced but smaller scaled companies work, and now it was time to go to J.P.Morgan and see what the style of a larger bank was.
It was different, to say the least. We went from a day where almost all conversation was about money, where to get it from, how to get it, and how to keep it flowing to a company that could afford to sit back for a bit, see what people were doing and wait out the storm.
“We sometimes have people come in and tell us there’s a problem. ‘What, are we out of money?!’ ‘No?’ ‘So what’s the problem?’”. Being able to afford this kind of thinking allows the company to focus on what it needs to: making sure every single one of their 100 million+ customers and their transactions are processed safely. In a place where a bug that only affects 0.001% of people still affects 1000, in a way that might be devastating to them, they had to have some of the more focused minds working around the clock to be sure everything goes smoothly.
And it was with a group of these detail-oriented minds we were presenting to. You can imagine it was a little nerve-wracking. Still, we were given yet another insight on our product, and though what different companies suggested was sometimes contradictory, it all came down to a simple idea. Honour thy consumer. Knowing what your customers wanted, aligning with them, and marketing to them correctly is the only way to succeed; the product is secondary.
After our high level scrutiny, it was time to head down to the runway, yet another completely different place, full of startups in their infancy, no more than 10 people each, and all working on completely different products. We had 3D-printed open-source drones next to dermatology applications next to people tinkering with their google glasses, all under one roof. Quite the setting for a presentation to Bath alumni.
It was the largest group we had presented to, certainly the largest in one room, but as always we were met with excitement, advice and ideas rather than scrutiny. It was as we were told on the first day, “No matter what your idea is, in Silicon Valley, someone will listen to it.”
Over canapés we found out what other Bath alumni were doing in SiliconValley. Investments, textiles, tech, engineering, it was all there and many business cards were passed around and contacts made. It was great to see so many people with the same connection, and even some of the current interns with jobs out stateside.
Our day ended with some time zooming back and forward on a Boosted Board through the runway, a longboard equipped with an almost unnoticeable motor to zip you along at 20 miles an hour.
The trip has been life-changing.
The contacts we made, the experiences we had, the stories we’d heard; none of them could have been had anywhere else.
Not many other students aged 19-20 can say they’ve wandered around Facebook and Google, chatted with millionaires and received priceless consultancy time with top businessmen and tech startups. We were filled with ideas from every angle, from marketing to business to product features; and also excitement for the product we’d worked on over only a month, from people with an incredibly strong background. It was awesome to be praised by those in such high positions.
Thanks so much to J.P. Morgan, Enterprise@Bath and the University's Department of Development & Alumni Relations for making it happen.
There really is no other place like Silicon Valley for tech. I hope we’ll all be working our way over there as soon as possible.