Silicon Valley can be a hard place to navigate. I moved here almost six years ago with a dream and a vision to start the next big tech company. One of the biggest struggles (besides rent) that I found was finding other like-minded individuals.
In looking for places to network with startup founders in Silicon Valley, there are numerous meetup groups and opportunities to get face time with others just like yourself to pick their brains, get advice, and learn from those that have been in similar shoes.
Here are 10 of the best places that I've found in Silicon Valley for networking with these founders:
1. The Cuckoo's Nest: Located in Menlo Park, this private member's social club is frequented by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. It's a great place to hang out in a relaxed social environment and enjoy food, drinks, interesting events and entertainment. Its charter and founding members come from some of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley and the world, giving you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and interact with these startup founders, entrepreneurs, and admired leaders.
2. 106 Miles: This network group is focused on entrepreneurial engineers, so if you are starting up a technical business or are a developer, then this group is for you. The group meets on the second Wednesday of each month in Sunnyvale from 7-9 p.m. and the fourth Wednesday of each month in San Francisco from 6-9 p.m. Typically, the meetings are very informal and held in a bar so the environment is relaxed and encourages those engineering types to socialize and meet other people.
3. Hackers and Founders: This group is all over the world with a significant presence in Silicon Valley. Based in Mountain View, this is an accelerator and founders' cooperative that offers an incredible list of services and assistance in exchange for a small equity stake in your company. The founders in this cooperative are very willing to meet those that are seeking this type of assistance to get their businesses launched. They have all types of meet-ups throughout Silicon Valley with an extensive list of upcoming networking events on their website so you can find one that fits your schedule.
4. Silicon Valley Incubation and Acceleration: Based in Santa Clara, this organization offers a wide range of entrepreneurship programs and access to startup founders through networking mixers, a co-founder community, toastmaster's club, and numerous educational and training programs. You will be able to access mentors, investors, and venture capitalists as well as you attend local events or participate in workshops, seminars, and programs. Their website offers numerous calendars of events so you can find an opportune time to network with startup founders throughout Silicon Valley.
5. Bootup World: Based in Menlo Park, this highly charged serial entrepreneurial co-working space is where founders can meet with other mostly serial entrepreneurial founders (most of which have had several startup successes in the past) to further their businesses. Their every other Friday cheese and wine bashes are a great elevation of the regular beer bashes you could normally have.
6. Igniters: This active community offers access to Stanford entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley startup founders. This group is very open and welcoming of new entrepreneurs, offering numerous events and social activities designed to encourage networking and mentoring. Industry experts and startup founders come to the scheduled events and make themselves accessible to conversations and Q&A sessions. Events are held regularly throughout Silicon Valley.
7. Startup Grind is another organization located in the bay area that has local monthly events. Though it's not a physical area it's one of the best networking events that I've ever had the opportunity to attend. I've met countless entrepreneurs and business owners with like minded goals.
8. Tech In Motion: This is a national event series that brings together local tech communities to meet, network, and learn from each other. It's an excellent opportunity to get in front of other technology startup founders to talk about your own business idea or to potentially be recruited for a new job. Events are regularly held in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, focusing on different aspects of the tech community.
9. SV In.Fusion: This organization is designed around knowledge development programs for entrepreneurs, including innovation, technology, and product design. They offer a Startup Boot Camp, which is an excellent place to meet other startup founders and gain valuable insights and knowledge about launching or expanding a business.
10. Founders Den: Located in San Francisco, this is somewhat of an exclusive club to get into but well worth the effort. It combines shared office space with a private club atmosphere with a focus on experienced entrepreneurs and accelerator program graduates. Founders Den is invite only and comes through referrals from other entrepreneurs that are club members. It's an excellent opportunity to get in front of some of the top business people from Silicon Valley.
Honorable Online Mention
Startup Digest is another great place to stay connected to where you can network with startup founders. This online newsletter provides extensive lists of upcoming events and information on who will be there and what type of topics will be covered. Beyond this list of 8 places, it's a good source to even find very niche-specific meet-ups to find those like-minded founders or business people.
What other events and startup locations have you found in Silicon Valley to network?