Female Founders 2017: Day 0

Enrica Sighinolfi, Founding Member at Opportunity Network

Day 0. Next stop, San Francisco. While I run late to the gate to catch one of the longest flights ever, I forget for a second everything that this journey means. I’m just focused on not missing this flight, because if I do I know I would miss one of the most enriching weeks of my life. San Francisco is indeed every entrepreneur’s Mecca, but this is going to be my very first time there and to the West Coast despite I’ve lived in the United States for years. I’ve been waiting for this trip since weeks after London & Partners announced this year’s Female Founders Mission to Silicon Valley, or perhaps since three years when my adventure with Opportunity Network started. I’m thrilled to participate, together with other fourteen brilliant female entrepreneurs, to a non-stop four-days of inspiring meetings with leaders of the Silicon Valley.

The programme is simply outstanding. After a kick-start at Tesla and Box, the Trade Mission officially starts today with a reception at the British Consul General’s Residence with guests from companies of the likes of Virgin Sport, AirBnb, IDEO, NASDAQ, Tinder, and Silicon Valley Bank. In the following days we will meet –just to mention a few ones– Omid Kordestani (employee #11 at Google; Executive Chairman of Twitter), Marne Levine (COO of Instagram), David Hornik (General Partner at August Capital and Tech Curator for TED Conference in Vancouver), Obi Felten (X, formerly known as Google X), Stewart Butterfield (Co-Founder of Flickr; Founder of Slack), Hillary Mickell (Head of Global Partner Marketing at Udacity), and Meg Garlinghouse (Head of Social Impact at LinkedIn).

Both myself and my fellow travellers are keen on discovering Silicon Valley’s best practices around scaling and innovating, but I believe that the main objective for every participant from both London and San Francisco is the one of building meaningful connections. In a world that sometimes seems more and more politically divided, entrepreneurship is a common language that brings together like-minded people, all having in common a relentless desire of building something for the world. We can all help each other to make each other’s dreams and efforts come to life and shine. We’ll be building a Golden Gate Bridge across the Valley and the Ocean between San Francisco and London as a first step in this direction.

What made Silicon Valley great is a special form of capital, which is worth more than money and it’s called humans. It’s that network of mentors and advisors who are not afraid to be honest and tell you if you’re going in the wrong direction or to make the right introduction to help you pursue your intuition. Above anything else, this network is what I look forward to bringing home from San Francisco, not only for our company, but also as a best practice that we should pursue more all over Europe. Our world, apparently more and more divided, is in reality every day smaller and smaller and more and more familiar thanks to the power of networks. The more everybody’s network is wide and diverse, the more we all benefit. If Benjamin F. Taylor once said that “San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home,” I feel this is going to be a beautiful place where to be abroad.