The IFB News Pipe

Blog: Into the Valley

4 December 2013

San Fran San Francisco

I was privileged enough to be part of a recent Scottish Enterprise Leadership Journey to San Francisco, I did have to put some skin in the game before you turn the page. This involved some pretty smart, successful people from over ten companies at different stages of development, industries and geographies in Scotland but all with a common theme. We all wanted to learn from others how to improve our leadership abilities so we could create some game changing growth for our businesses.

The rarefied atmosphere of success that exists on the West Coast of the US has to be experienced to be believed and this was personified by the list of companies that SE had lined up for us to not only visit but to gain access to people in them. We met and heard from the Google, Stanford University, Applied Materials, Microsoft, Silicon Valley Bank and DLA Piper, and also some of the smaller players Iron Creative and Anchor Steam Brewery. All those we met had one thing in common, they were either Scots or had been educated in Scotland but in either case had made their way successfully to the Valley, not a bad export.

Additionally they had something else in common; they all had a Moon shot, a $100m business idea or plan that would eventually turn in to an IPO.  Additionally, and I suggest unique to that geography, there was no fear or embarrassment associated with failing in this stellar quest, but a real stigma attached with not trying.

I took a lot away from the week, we are currently reengineering our moon mission and while it might not, in stage one at least, reach $100m it is certainly moves us to higher level than before. The assurance to do this has in part come from those I met and what I saw out there, additionally and I think as importantly, from my fellow travellers, those who really get the fact that trying exponentially grow a business in Scotland is tough but have the ability and will to want to make it happen, and are not afraid to try.

Graeme Gordon; CEO, IFB

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