10 Days of University Living as a 40 Year Old
From the super buzzed fingers of Nick Lonie, CEO & Co-founder, Kin Childcare
It was sad saying farewell to my new 3-month-old baby boy and 3-year-old daughter at Perth airport, but at the same time I could barely contain my excitement with the prospect of ten days uninterrupted sleep ahead in the USA. This trip is the initial part of the muru-D program that offers meetings and learnings from some of the finest entrepreneurial minds in Silicon Valley. I have never been so exhausted and energised at the same time after my time in San Francisco (SF), a city buzzing with childless start up entrepreneurial energy.
I believed Perth was one of the world’s most expensive cities until I arrived in SF. The start-up world of bootstrapping required finding the cheapest accommodation option under $300/night. I also hadn’t appreciated the reputation of the Tenderloin area of SF until I stepped out of my taxi and tripped over a homeless man on my way to my shared room at Startup Basecamp. As I opened my bedroom door, my roommate was enjoying some of the valley’s finest legal weed and filled the evening with some of the loudest snoring I have ever encountered, which has the same soporiphic effect as my crying baby. However, the space was fantastic and offered a great shared workspace for us to quickly gather our thoughts at the beginning and end of each day.
Our diary had been packed by the fantastic muru-D team with some of Silicon Valley’s top advisors, mentors, entrepreneurs, legal and financial advisors. With heavy eyes, plenty of coffee and an electric scooter as transport, I entered our first panel session that set the tone for the week. The shared experiences of Australian start-ups (HappyCo, Safesite & Patch’d) who have successfully entered and excelled in the US provided the boost of energy and opened the possibilities that lay ahead for the growth of our business, Kin Childcare, a two-sided marketplace connecting parents to babysitters.
Throughout the week I was stepping in the offices of businesses like Uber, AirBnB, Dropbox, Crunchbase, Eventbrite, Google & Facebook making me feel like a forty year old stepping back into a modern university campus. The funky designs, natural light, unique meeting spaces around every corner, endless complimentary food and drink and any other fitness or health requirements was guaranteed to encourage efficient and endless hours in the office.
The workforces barely broke 30 years of age, however, the excitement and energy levels throughout each office were genuine and it had an infectious nature. My notepad was brimming with complimentary advice, critical feedback and an endless to do list that took a week to digest and prioritize. Rather than having pockets full of business cards, my LinkedIn profile went into overdrive with over 100 contacts made and several follow up messages required to glean every piece of information and advice from these energetic minds.
Australian businesses are renowned in SF for being overachievers by underselling themselves & generally over performing. This rang true during a two day communications workshop with Carla Morton and ImprovHQ where the Sydney and Perth muru-D program cohorts shared our souls and opened our eyes to the fantastic businesses we have started. Learning from and sharing experiences (and concerns) with both our Perth and Sydney cohorts was another key benefit of this trip and something never to be undersold.
This rang true when meeting over coffee with US competitors, such as Urbansitter, whose CEO was more than willing to share her journey over the past five years raising over $40m on the way. Sharing of childcare knowledge with competitors felt alien to me, but with a huge fragmented market in the US and across the world, collaboration is the key and mutually beneficial to all parties.
Jumping on the plane in SF, I was excited to be returning to my own bed and see my family whom I know will have grown up already in the two weeks of my absence. More importantly though, I had resurrected the same energy levels I had as when graduating from university when the world was my oyster and nothing could stop me. Do I want to move to SF tomorrow and sleep on sofas whilst starting the fundraising mission, no. Do I want to build a kick ass business in Australia so I can move to the USA in 18 months and dominate the childcare market there with some strong capital and thousands of users already using Kin…hell yeah!