Lessons from Silicon Valley: From ‘Why?’ to ‘Why Not?’
When launching our first running apps, we knew we’d need to get into the Silicon Valley startup scene. Networking has not only helped us grow, it has also contributed to the company culture that makes Runtastic unique.
I still remember holding the first business card I got from Apple six years ago. It was such a special moment. I took a photo, scanned it, and emailed it to my co-founders with the caption, “Trip successful!”
Networking in Silicon Valley not only helped us grow, it also contributed to the company culture that makes Runtastic unique. We’ve been truly privileged to work with and learn from the best.
The first time Alfred Luger (Runtastic COO and Co-Founder) and I flew to San Francisco in October 2010, we drove around in our rental car and met a few entrepreneurs, but we honestly had no idea what we were doing.
Then we started figuring out the startup world, and somehow made a few connections. We decided, “We’re ready for the US!”
Every business is a people business
Once we hired Josh Shaeffer, current VP of Business Development and our first Runtastic employee in San Francisco, networking got easier. With a local address and a familiar face on site, we gained credibility and got invited to industry events. This was motivating for our whole crew.
In the beginning, I admit, Americans seemed overly friendly to me. They must be playing a game, I thought. However, once I got over my initial skepticism, the barriers came down, and I learnt a valuable lesson about cultural differences and how genuine interest in people and their work is vital for both networking and in leadership.
When you’re pitching your own ideas, trying to get others on board, it’s easy to forget you should always give something in return. Again, relationship building is a two-way street; it’s all about balance, making time to catch up with everyone on a regular basis, keeping people in the know, and participating in an authentic ‘give and take.’
Imagination is everything
Silicon Valley startups aren’t afraid to think big. In fact, Runtastic always had to think big. Digital products have no borders, and we couldn’t have built our apps with only eight million potential users in Austria.
Across the Atlantic, thinking big extends to the entire attitude towards innovating.
Take Runtastic’s ‘Day of New Ideas’ (DONI, in short), for example. This is a day each month when employees concentrate solely on creativity. Our initiative has gotten a lot of media attention, and managers have come to me saying, “I want to apply this to my company, but it would never work.”
When I ask why, they start listing hours and budgets. I need to remind them that the outcome could be significantly bigger than those constraints combined. Managers and leaders must find space for creativity and professional development in order to keep people performing at their best.
Skip the excuses & get to work
Every one of us is tight on time and money. It’s too easy to use these constraints as excuses for shooting down creative ideas and opportunities. This is why every company, big or small, should adopt some of the startup mentality of ‘seeing possibilities first and limitations last.’
It all begins with adjusting our own mindsets. Instead of reacting with excuses, we should take a step back and think, “Yeah, it might work. It could be cool to build something great.”
With this attitude, Runtastic is helping people lead healthier lives. When people in our community share their success stories – some even send thank you notes to the office – we know we’re doing something right.
The ‘wow’ factor in these unexpected moments is worth celebrating together. Everyone has their moment, their story – like me rejoicing about that very first business card from Apple 😉
Athletes are winners - on the pitch and in the board room
Runtastic CEO Florian Gschwandtner shares his entrepreneurial lessons and principles based on his athlete’s mindset in the first GamePlan A Speaker Series.Watch the video
thanks for your comment! That's great to hear. We just hosted a talk with Florian Gschwandtner at the adidas HQ, which will be available here on GamePlan A soon. Don't miss the release and subscribe. :)
Best and stay curious,