There and back again; a not-so-unexpected journey of a Lagos Startup founder to the startup heart of the US & UK. Part 1.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. – Saint Augustine
Heavy traffic is seen on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos

Lagos traffic

It was the 14th of May 2014 and I was running out of time… my flight was scheduled for two hours before midnight and it was just 6pm, still I had to get to the airport in an hour otherwise I would be unable to make it through the chaotic Lagos airport check-in process.  It was 6pm and I had just succeeded in getting into the rush hour Lagos traffic towards what would be a 4-week

transatlantic trip of a lifetime. I was the last person to make it into the check-in line before the counter got closed by the United Airlines agent,

america

America!

I reminded myself to by a gift for my dare-devil cab driver that had given other Lagos road users hell so as to get me into the airport on time… I was now at the back of the queue in packed airport.  The airport air-conditioning didn’t seem to be working, also the travel ETA display screens were definitely not working at that time. This airport told a story of dysfunctional systems across the whole country and also of a people

silas

reverse selfie… ha!

resigned to finding happiness in managing life as it is rather than embrace the discontent and use it to create a life that should be… on this trip I was hoping to get a reverse view of another people that constantly challenged themselves to rise to a better standard of living and hopefully learn a secret on how to replicate this in my beloved land. On this trip,  I was scheduled to attend the elite Stanford eBootcamp 2014 conference, then have some strategic meeting towards promoting our Nerve start-up and also the Lagos Fab Lab, then thereafter visit several bay area company locations of interest like the Googleplex, Ycombinator etc. Thereafter, I would go to the east coast to visit family, see more tourist locations & have meetings in DC/ Baltimore/NewYork before leaving from JFK to Heathrow for the 2nd phase of the journey.

houston

Touch down USA.. Houston!

My flight took me from Lagos through Houston to San Jose to Carmel CA for a brief rest & prep session with a friend of my my start-up’s accelerator (Carmel is beautiful). From Carmel, I returned to San Jose and attended an event organized by the Church Hill Club which is Silicon Valley’s premier business & technology forum. The event was tagged “Engineering Great Products &

sanjoseAiport

San Jose Airport

Customer Experience” and I was fascinated by the approach taken towards product design with an emphasis on better user experience & the customer’s need, a lot of business people back home are purely opportunistic in product development (or rather, product importation),  hence, talk about user-centered product design & design-led product development was refreshing to hear. Another interesting thing was the quality of people in the room, on my table alone were people from Citrix, Microsoft, VMware and the like, these side conversations were also refreshing.

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Church Hill Club Forum

From San Jose , I was now on my way to Stanford for the BASES eBootcamp 2014 conference proper…. Watch out for part 2.

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