The Fetch Blog

The best events and reads for professionals

Why San Francisco Isn’t The Future of Tech — January 31, 2016

Why San Francisco Isn’t The Future of Tech

San Francisco has been dubbed the ‘7×7’ because it’s a grid area of 7 miles by 7 miles. Because of this, there are often many insanely successful tech companies concentrated in the same spot. Amazingly, Twitter occupies the same building as Square and Uber on Market Street. Airbnb, Zynga, Pinterest, Dropbox, and Yelp are all located in SoMa. With so much happening in a single city, can San Francisco continue to be the epicenter of the tech startup world?

Maybe not, according to Darian Shirazi, founder of San Francisco technology company Radius. He reports in Forbes.com that, “Based on our analysis of over 27 million US businesses, we believe the next generation of small business owners will flock to cities not because of growing job rates and income levels, but because of community engagement and access to resources.”

Catherine Clifford of Entrepreneur.com also concedes to Shirazi’s assessment by listing the US metro regions with the highest ratio of tech startups compared to the national average:

  1. Boulder, CO
  2. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
  3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  4. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Denver, CO
  7. San Francisco, CA
  8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  9. Colorado Springs, CO
  10. Cheyenne, WY

With thought to this issue, let’s take this theory one step further to compare Australian startup founder Alan Downie’s experience. Downie travelled to Silicon Valley to gain support from US investors and realized that the way Americans and Australians do business is quite different. “Australian founders, and the investors that fund them, seem to be more interested in growing big profitable businesses than they are growing what amounts to ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Perhaps we’re a more laid back culture that is more inclined to take our time to grow success than we are to try and generate it overnight. Perhaps the gap between the rich and poor is smaller here and therefore success isn’t quite as binary as it is in the States. Or perhaps, as a nation, we just don’t idolise the successful but are more inclined to view their wealth with cynicism rather than vicarious optimism.”

But one really can’t diminish the impact and growth of San Francisco’s prominence in the world of entrepreneurialism. In fact, private firms based in San Francisco received $10 billion in venture investment last year, which is a bit more than companies based in Santa Clara, San Mateo and southern Alameda counties combined. In addition, San Francisco companies received 79 percent of all mobile investments, making it a key location for thought leaders and budding entrepreneurs.

However, although San Francisco is on the cutting edge of online businesses, apps, and programs that attempt to ease the burdens of everyday life, is it possible the city could burn itself out? Is the future of tech perhaps not a location, but a shift in motivation? Could we be move away from the pressures and demands of high stakes venture capitalism into a more balanced life with sleep and intrinsic fulfillment?

While the overall adoption of this movement is highly unlikely, evidence does show that the tech industry and its tsunami of startups are evolving enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. The San Franciscos and Silicon Valleys will inevitably keep bursting with workaholics and stress maniacs, but a new entrepreneur is also rising up who will harness the power of the Internet and do business from Anywhere, USA (or Australia or India or wherever you randomly point to on a map), without compromising their quality of life to be the next billion dollar tech startup.

About our writer // Christina Morales is a freelance writer specializing in creating online marketing content. Her dream is to one day rule the world with just an iPad, a case of Cherry Coke, Twizzlers, and a glue gun.

Cate Blanchett on creativity, gender equality and following your gut — January 12, 2016
Coffee talk: Betty Enyonam Kumahor, catalyst for African businesses — December 6, 2015

Coffee talk: Betty Enyonam Kumahor, catalyst for African businesses

Betty Enoyonam Kumahor is an inspiring, dedicated and dynamic individual. Her professional expertise ranges from developing software to working as a founder and CEO. She’s a featured speaker at this year’s YOW! Conference in Melbourne, Australia, where she’ll talk about frugal innovation and overcoming unique challenges in her home continent of Africa.

How did you get to where you are today?

I didn’t plan to become a software developer, systems analyst, product manager, management consultant, CEO, entrepreneur, business owner, public speaker, or to wear any of the other hats I’ve put on. But I always planned to do three things:

  1. Notice the opportunities that came my way
  2. Work hard at them
  3. Return the favor

The journey that these simple three rules have taken me on is beyond my imagination and has been great fun. I got to where I am today by taking chances, working hard, and paying it forward.

You founded The Cobalt Partners, which helps African businesses with productivity, growth consulting, design thinking, software development and more. What inspired you to create the company?

It was merely a practical solution. I had just left ThoughtWorks with the plan to take a six-month sabbatical. Before I had informed anyone, I was already receiving requests for advisory assistance in one form or another. Within two weeks of requests coming in, I had started a spreadsheet to list them all. I counted 21 asks on my growing list.

The common thread was that increasingly more organisations and leaders — both foreign and local to Africa — were looking for growth catalysts. I had a unique blend of technology, productivity, and consulting experience, along with the leadership style and access to needed talent.

It was clear that there was a gap in the market, so we formed The Cobalt Partners in hopes of being catalysts for pan-African businesses in need of help applying technology, design thinking, and productivity consulting.

You’re doing incredible things. What’s the most challenging part of your day-to-day routine? What’s the most rewarding?

The most challenging and the most rewarding are actually one and the same: solving problems. I’ve always been a management consultant at the core. We seek clients, projects, and strategies that differ by their nature, so there isn’t necessarily a playbook for replicated success.

Betty Enyonam Kumahor

Every day presents a new challenge — whether it’s internal (such as, “how do we reach a new audience of small medium-sized enterprises who don’t even have email or social media services today?”) or for a client (“how do we formulate an innovative collaboration platform for makers in Ghana’s largest e-waste dump?”). It can be frustrating to formulate a thoughtful and robust solution, but it’s certainly rewarding when you see a solution in action.

Which obstacles do African businesses face most often today?

The challenges are big. I’d say talent is the most significant, especially for knowledge roles and business. The African context is unique in that it’s unlike both the East and West. Because of this, solutions in African context must be heavily tailored — but they should also leverage experience and knowledge gained from other parts of the world. Finding people who can do this is both competitive and difficult.

There are other challenges, too. Access to capital, even though capital is available, is still very difficult. Infrastructure costs such as power, transportation, and telecommunications also mean that the cost of operation in many African locations is comparatively higher than elsewhere.

But possibly even more important to address than all these is the challenge of the outdated narrative of Africa as a struggling (war-torn and disease-ridden) continent.

That narrative is myopic and truly ignores the riches, possibilities, and achievements of the continent. The more that this narrative starts to change, the more we’ll see more partners from the East and West working with us on the solutions that solve all current challenges.

You’ve spent your life and career change the age-old narrative. What are some the creative and innovative solutions you see happening already?

Those of us who grew up on the continent can tell you that we always saw creativity and innovation around us.

It was the pool table made completely out of wood and mud; the radio made out of spare parts; the bicycle that was able to transport an entire family to work and school.

We’re currently involved with a simple barcode hospital record filing system that has reduced wait times in clinics from an average of more than two hours to a mere 10 minutes. This solution boasts many innovations, using the elderly in the community to collect abandoned files, nine data points to uniquely identify patients (even if they show up with a different name or are fraudulently using another person’s insurance), to one-hour power sources in the event that  there is no electricity (ensuring new data is not lost and patient intake/checkout can still occur).

You’re speaking at the YOW! 2015 Conference in Australia. Why this event? What are you looking forward to most?

When it comes to technology — and in particular, software development — I’ve had several interactions with Australian conferences, technologists, consulates and businesses (especially in South Africa). Each has been so positive that I believe there is much opportunity to collaborate together in this space.

I am most looking forward to having conversations about what’s been happening in the Australian software development space within the last year, along with what’s been happening in Ghana. I hope we can do more together.

Who do you admire?

I admire my parents. My father was a pioneer in the Big Four Accounting and Advisory firms in Africa. But more importantly, he balanced his work with being a generous person. If I can have a quarter as much impact in my chosen field and in my extended family as he has, I will be in great company.

My mother is one of the most brilliant medical doctors I know and demonstrated her management skill in the African context as a hospital administrator in Ghana. She expanded the polyclinic for the largest health district into an award-winning hospital, accomplishing all of this while raising five children. 

In terms of well-known people, I point to Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina. Steve Jobs had tremendous success, but more importantly, marched to the beat of his own drum. That takes tremendous strength and character. Carly Fiorina did a stint at my high school and went on to be a prominent female CEO in technology. She takes on challenges with poise and competence.

Where can we find you online?

Find me on Twitter, @enyok, or Facebook.

Last, how do you drink your coffee?

I avoid caffeine — I get enough from life, I like to think — so no coffee or tea for me.

My favorite drink is water, but not just any water. Must be still not sparking. In a bottle, not a glass. Spring not distilled. Dress it up with some Crystal Light (especially Raspberry Lemonade) and watch me grin. :)

5 happiness hacks everyone should try — November 24, 2015

5 happiness hacks everyone should try

Happiness has become one the sexiest yet most elusive products of our time. You could read the Internet for the entire of your existence and still find another million searches on how to crack the happy matrix. Indeed, happiness is a multi-billion dollar industry.

But what if happiness was a little easier to hack than you’ve been lead to believe? Here are five easy ways you can increase your happiness and lower your stress levels.

Admit you compare yourself to the next person

Most of us are familiar with the term FOMO (the fear of missing out). We feel anxious because we feel like we’re missing out on something wonderful online. And it’s starting to lead us closer to depression and anxiety as a result.

But this is not a new concept, nor is it only a social media issue.

In 1954, social comparison theory suggested we measure our worth against others for the first time. We check the validity of our thoughts, feelings and ideas in relation to other people. And that we can use comparisons to drive us forward to achieve great things, or it can be a source of envy.

Biologically and psychologically, we’re designed to compare ourselves with our peers. And it’s OK to recognize this trait rather than deny it. It could be the first step you take to move beneath the cloud of FOMO.   

Use comparison to your advantage

It’s one thing to know you’ll fall into the comparison trap on occasion. It’s quite another to allow it to fuel you towards great things. Don’t get caught up on denying someone gets under your skin — use it to your advantage! 

Ask yourself 3 simple questions:

  1. What do they do better than me?
  2. What do I do better than them?
  3. What can I learn from their approach?

Turn your comparisons into intelligence gathering. Convert that envied enemy into a valued peer. Or use their impact on you to re-design a strategy that works for you.

Think about what excites you about the other person. Now ask yourself why you’re less excited by your own ideas and change it. Don’t copy them. Find out how you can zig to their zag.

If someone motivates you that much they live in your head, there is always some value you can derive from it.

Focus on accomplishment

We’re so often pre-occupied with what we have ‘to do’ that we forget the amazing things we’ve done.  Yet accomplishment is one of the best sources of happiness. 

So how do you focus on the great things you’ve done between major milestones?

Here are some ideas:

  • Capture what you’ve completed as a ‘done list’
  • Have a chalkboard that displays what you’ve done in a month, quarter or year
  • Save up the things you’ve ticked off your ‘to do’ list in a jar on a scrap of paper and watch it grow
  • Write a thank you note to the people who have given you another great week- and don’t forget yourself in that!

Whatever the mechanism, enjoy the difference that comes with seeing what you’ve achieved. Focus on progress. 

Step outside yourself

Our culture spends a lot of time focusing on what we can get out of life for ourselves. But we’re actually happier when we’re giving to others.

Happiness hacks everyone should try

Volunteering is good for us. It gives us the opportunity to step outside ourselves and think of others. Volunteering and giving doesn’t just give us the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing good. There’s even proof that helping others helps us sleep, make friends and generally feel fitter and stronger.

So if you want to increase your happiness, helping others is a wonderful way to do it.

Go back to the basics

Getting enough sleep, taking enough breaks and exercising all contribute to our happiness.

Working too hard impairs your thinking. We know we have to sleep to reset the clock. Time spent daydreaming and idling helps us with the creative processes. 

Stress also has a productivity cost. Thankfully, exercise is a great stress antidote. Several studies have shown exercising aids in the management of stress and mental health conditions.

There’s no point in squeezing extra hours in the day for work if the work isn’t the best quality.

So if you’re feeling under pressure, sleep, rest and movement can help. Don’t pack each minute with project work. 

The bottom line on happiness

You won’t find happiness at the bottom of a bag of diamonds or at the drinks at an expensive conference. But you can find it in the little things. Being kind to your body, mind and what you achieve is a big part of being happy. 

Give yourself a break and be happy to be you.

About our contributor // Rebekah Lambert is freelance content marketer, Unashamedly Creative. She founded Hacking Happiness to remind busy individuals stress has a productivity cost.

Featured job: Lead engineer at Visually (with a plane ticket to San Francisco!) — November 21, 2015

Featured job: Lead engineer at Visually (with a plane ticket to San Francisco!)

Visually is the leading marketplace for visual content, connecting the world’s best-known brands (including 42 of the Fortune 100) with the world’s best animators, designers, data visualization experts and more. The team is broadening its horizons and looking across the globe for great engineers interested in moving to San Francisco to join the Visually team.

Visually promises an exciting job at a great company where you’ll bring your engineering expertise and leadership to help them ship a great product faster. The team plans to have a welcome packet on your desk containing every suitable-for-work Aussie stereotype: a can of Fosters, gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse, a stuffed kangaroo or wallaby (can’t tell the difference), jar of Vegemite, map of local surf spots known to harbor Great Whites, and for the gentleman, some regular board shorts to replace your budgie smuggler (water’s cold around these parts).

What you’ll do

  • Build, test, deploy full-stack product features

  • Collaborate with product managers and designers on requirements and figuring out HOW features will be built

  • Make architectural decisions on new features

  • Collaborate with and lead a small team of remote developers

  • Perform code reviews

  • Participate in and drive daily scrum meetings

  • Address urgent issues

What you need to be successful

  • Love of coding

  • Extensive knowledge of PHP, Javascript, Linux, MySQL

  • Great understanding of how all layers of the stack interact

  • 7+ years of software development experience

  • Pride writing efficient code and following patterns, best practices, and internal standards.

  • Good knowledge of industry best practices for version control, testing, deployment, security, monitoring

  • Ability to own projects and tasks and to take them to completion with no supervision quickly and efficiently

  • Ability to organize and manage multiple priorities

  • Intrinsic curiosity about developments in the industry

  • Pragmatism to make proper trade-offs

  • Superior problem-solving ability

  • Great communication skills

  • Keen attention to detail

Why this job?

  • The team: Visually has a phenomenal team and plans to continue packing the walls with passionate, exceptional people that believe in the company vision and embody core values. You will work with people who were early contributors at successful companies such as oDesk, eBay, IAC, Optimizely, and Skype.

  • The 1200+ brands that Visually supports: These include some of the best-known agencies, consumer brands, and media companies in the world, including Spotify, The Huffington Post, Twitter, National Geographic, Salesforce, Verizon, Nike, Kayak, Visa, McKinsey, LinkedIn, Hired, etc.

  • Your work will be seen by millions of marketing, design and creative professionals every month.

More about Visually

Visually is the content creation platform that enables businesses to connect with their audiences through premium visual content — videos, infographics, ebooks, presentations, web interactives and more. With over 1000 certified creative professionals and an easy to use online collaboration platform, Visually works with clients to create cost-effective content that clicks, connects, and converts. Visually is backed by Crosslink Ventures, Softtech Venture Capital, 500 Startups and other leading investors.

Watch this video and learn more or browse the company’s amazing work portfolio. The lead engineer position is based in Visually’s San Francisco headquarters near Union Square.

If interested, please apply here: http://goo.gl/Si2jfJ

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