There’s been a lot of talking lately about the raise of New York City as an important hub in the US startup ecosystem. Due to its worldwide role in the finance, media and fashion industries, NYC is becoming the place to be for the companies that want to disrupt these markets. In this short story I’d like to share my experience of moving from San Francisco to New York City and joining one of the most promising startups of the east coast.
Getting to know the Valley
After almost two years of intense startup life, in November 2011 I decided to leave Milan and move to San Francisco.
I’ve been thinking about that for some time and I finally got the chance to get a VISA and work for Gild, the company that a few months earlier acquired Coderloop and hired me and my co-founder Luca to join their team.
I was super excited and my expectation was so high. I’ve been working in the web industry since the 90s and for me the Valley was like the Mecca: every possible cool thing about the web and the Internet was happening there.
At the same time though, I somewhat had the felling that I was overestimating that almost imaginary world made of happy people working on cool projects and making millions.
In fact, after a few months, I started to feel a bit deluded.
I felt like I was in a kind of reality distorted world where most people cared about silly problems and everybody had an idea in need of money and a technical co-founder.
At every meetup I went to, always the same story: people with ideas in need of help. And worst of all, no idea that really excited me. Nothing that made me say:
WTF this is the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard! I want to work with you for free! Now!
It was clear to me, and to my wife, that the place we both dreamed about wasn’t exactly where we wanted to live. San Francisco is a great city, but perhaps it wasn’t for us.
The decision was hard but simple: it was time to leave. But where?
Los Angeles? London? Berlin? Back to Milan? New York?
Yeah! Why not New York I thought. We are in the US: we must learn and get the most out of this experience before going back to Europe.
We lived the West coast for almost a year! Now it’s the time to see and experience the East coast! It’s definitely going to be fun!
Looking for an opportunity
I was in the US with the infamous H-1B VISA so just deciding to leave my job and move to NYC to do my own thing wasn’t an option: I needed a new job!
I wanted to learn… I get bored if I don’t learn something new every day.
I believe that you can learn and improve yourself when you work with people that know a lot more than you and when you work on something new and challenging, that you’ve never did before (and that’s why I love entrepreneurship).
So it was clear to me that I needed to work in an industry I’ve never worked in… something cool and growing fast, like an e-commerce company!
And it turns out the Faith agreed with my conclusion.
When destiny knocks
During my research for opportunities in The Big Apple, Gilt Groupe was in top list since it’s one of the most promising and innovative companies in the e-commerce space.
What made it suddenly more interesting was that at some point I realized that Riccardo, a great friend of mine, was working for them in Dublin.
The destiny was even more obvious to me when, while I was in NYC for a few days with my wife, Riccardo happened to be there too: we met and we talked about Gilt and how awesome the technical team was and how many cool technologies they were using.
I was so curious that the day after I met a few of his colleagues: I was sold.
I couldn’t believe how great was their technical level and how excited they were about the business. Who could have said that a company so into the fashion world would also have been one of the most technically awesome?
I suddenly had an epiphany: I wanted to be part of that world, I wanted to learn from them!
And that’s what happened, after one month of being part of Gilt I’m even more excited than the first day: I’m loving working with awesome people and amazing technologies, talking about code, business, revenues and how to make the experience of our customers awesome!
And that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about in my next post!