Help me make the most of a work week in the bay area
January 23, 2017 6:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to a conference in Stanford at the end of march. I will be presenting some work stuff for a day, but I'm also planning on spending the week in the area, because hey, why not. Help me make the most of it

At the moment, my two main questions are:
- I'd like to take advantage of this trip to meet as many people as I can mostly in startups, digital archiving and smart B2C companies. Assume I have no network. How do I find these people ? Any place I can look for for events occuring during this week (I've checked meetup and eventbrite, but I'm wondering if I'm missing better places).
- Where should I stay ? I'll be with my cofounder, and since I don't know yet what we'll do besides this two days at stanford, I'm wondering if we should rent a "cheap" place + a car, or stay at a more central location and use public transit/uber. We're also planning on doing our usual work, so recommendations on interesting co-working spaces would be welcome.

Thank you for your help !
posted by motdiem2 to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You'll need to rent a car if you're staying in or near Stanford. I'd recommend you stay in stanford the two days of the conference (unless it's on a weekend) because traffic in the Bay Area is awful. Then spend the rest of the time up in the city (San Francisco).

As to events / coworking spaces no idea, but hopefully someone else can chime in!
posted by raw sugar at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Coups Cafe in Palo Alto on Ramona is the stereotypical startup founder/VC pitching coffee shop.

I've heard good things about The Workshop as a coworking space in SF.
posted by asphericalcow at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

For events, subscribe to Startup Digest for the Bay Area - they also have a calendar, but I'm not sure it's complete. I think you'll get better bang for your buck subscribing to the digest and then seeing events get posted in the week or so before you go.

For networking, how about the direct approach? Look up startups in your field and reach out to the founders directly with something like "Hey, I'm motdiem2, our startup does this, I'd love to take you for a 15-minute coffee near your office to chat about the industry." The worst they can say is no, and startup culture in the Bay Area, while obviously competitive in many ways, also seems to be fairly friendly in other ways. Founders, especially of smaller startups, are likely to want to chat with you if you can make it easy for them because a) they want to network too and b) they want to hear *all the news* of what else is going on in the field.

When you say digital archiving, do you mean archiving of texts? Because I think Stanford Libraries was a very early collaborator with Google on their text digitizing projects. I'd try to network with folks at Stanford Libraries too if you're not already (though maybe you'll be doing that already if this is the conference you're attending?).

On that note, if you're going to the conference first, and then staying a few days afterwards, don't forget to network at the conference proper and set up coffees with folks in the next few days. Keep it to 10-15 minute time slots (with extra time between your appointments so if you end up happily chatting for an hour, that's awesome, but if they have to go, that's okay too). Good places to meet are Coupa Cafe (there's one on campus right by Green Library and at least one other location in downtown Palo Alto) and Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park (a 3-minute drive from campus), or wherever they suggest. Definitely rent a car so you can get around easily on the Peninsula.

Another place to look for contacts to make is to see if any budding startups in your field are working with startup incubators like StartX and First Floor Labs (both near Stanford). Because they'd be folks just getting started, they might have more time/interest in meeting/networking with you than people trying to run bigger companies.

In general, go prepared to talk to folks, bring business cards, and don't overdress! Bay Area startup dress code is suit jacket and jeans and nice shoes (for men) at the *most formal* - if you show up in a suit, people will give you weird looks.

Good luck!
posted by bananacabana at 9:26 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I always recommend Duarte's Tavern, (pronounced Doo-Arts,) in Pescadero, just below the bay area, one mile inland from San Gregorio beach. Then directly north of Duarte's is the Old Stage Road, which is the quintessential northern California road, through artichoke fields, eucalyptus colonnades, fields, then up over La Honda, and redwood trees. The food is great seafood, they specialize in cream of artichoke soup. Alice's Restaurant is up on La Honda somewhere. Beautiful views out across from up on top. The San Francisco Arboretum is also a wonderful thing to see.
posted by Oyéah at 9:42 AM on January 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Contact startup workspaces (not co-working spaces), and offer to give your conference talk there to their members. For the cost of supplying snacks and some beers, you can get yourself in front of a lot of people... assuming there's interest in your talk.

Places like:
posted by danny the boy at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

You don't need to rent a car. Ridesharing is cheap and ubiquitous.

"Coups Cafe in Palo Alto on Ramona is the stereotypical startup founder/VC pitching coffee shop." is true, but it's *Coupa* Cafe, indeed on Ramona in downtown Palo Alto. The Coupa Cafe locations on the Stanford campus are mostly populated by academics. There's a coworking space, "Hanahaus", on University.

But you should really reach out to people who might be interested in talking to you before you get to Palo Alto. My sense is that a lot of networking happens as chats over coffee, but very little of it is unscheduled.
posted by L0 at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you go to Duarte's ask them to make you a half and half of the artichoke and green chile soup (they pour them into a creamy, delicious, green Yin/Yan shape in the bowl). Also the pies there are wonderful. And Harley Goat farm is practically around the corner. Pet the goats and buy some delicious goat milk treats (cheese or candy) for later. They are a different sort of start up--very entrepreneurial--doing lots of interesting things to support the farm. If you want to come to the East Bay you can visit The Port Workspaces. They schedule tours. We've got a branch in my office building. You can hop on BART at our Millbrae Station and come to Oakland that way.
posted by agatha_magatha at 3:31 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

You'll need to rent a car if you're staying in or near Stanford.

We live in San Francisco and husband works at Stanford. He takes BART to Caltrain five days a week. If you plan on staying in the immediate Bay Area (SF, Palo Alto, Oakland, etc.), save your car rental $ and get a central place near Palo Alto Station or California Avenue Station. Get a Clipper Card and put some $ on it--it's the transit pass for most of the region's public transit. If you want to take long trips, like the coastal sightseeing mentioned above (which I highly recommend but doesn't mesh with what sounds like the networking you're looking to do), a car will be a must.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for your feedback, it's really helpful.

bonus points to bananacabana for figuring out the conference I'm going to
posted by motdiem2 at 7:38 AM on January 24, 2017

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