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Oct 25, 2017

Silicon Valley Study Tour | Eden Mair | Student Blog

Our trip to San Francisco was perhaps one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever been lucky enough to receive. We were fortunate enough to not only meet some amazing people and visit some incredible businesses, but we were privileged enough to spend a week in a beautiful, thriving city.

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Alcatraz, The Golden Gate Bridge, Union Square- just a few of the places we got to see, some up close and some from a distance. I never expected to receive such an authentic experience as a tourist in San Francisco. While I saw the sights and took many, many photos and lived the tourist life, I felt as though I was living and breathing the city. My personal favourite moments (excluding meeting all the amazing people and visiting incredible businesses) were walking through Little Italy- the buildings and art were phenomenal, and also standing on Alcatraz Island, looking at the city lit up in the dark. The illuminated Golden Gate Bridge feeding into the mass of buildings and lights is something I will never forget. I loved the entire trip and everything about vibrant San Francisco, I can’t wait to go back one day.


NURO is a team of engineers, designers and scientists who are dedicating their time to making advancements in the world of robotics and technology. Due to NURO being in the start-up stage of business they are still operating in stealth mode. They are publicly working on a completely hand-free self driving car, and that’s just the start. Although NURO is in stealth mode, Dave Fergusson- the co-founder of NURO was able to talk to us about starting a business and the general direction that technology is going in. One thing that NURO seems to be doing very right is hiring, and this is because NURO has cracked the code on how to get employees to take a risk and join the start up. Treating all NURO employees as valuable parts of the business has paid off and people are happy to take that risk, this is very impressive especially as the company does not spend a lot of time in the limelight and advertising for recruitment.


Claudia Batten is a kiwi entrepreneur based in the US. Already having founded two successful digital businesses she is now the regional director for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in North America. Claudia is not just a successful entrepreneur, she is a mentor and a role model to many. Her approach to life and way of talking shows clearly how much she values experiences and people. Experiences being the opportunity to move cities, start a new company or meeting a new, up and coming startup founder. These experiences are what Claudia calls ‘Light bulb’ moments. Following light bulb moments throughout her life is how she got where she is today, realising she needed to move on, and then doing it. Her move away from New Zealand was one of her light bulb moments. However the move was not her abandoning her country but rather her realising that she is currently more useful to New Zealand, living offshore. Claudia thinks critically about every situation, looking for the best solution to any problem, another reason so many people look up to her.


Renaissance Leadership is a company devoted to developing leaders. CEO’s and teams. This is through figuring out what the dream is, and working from there. Ben Anderson, one of the founders of Renaissance leadership talked us through some of the key traits of being a leader, and how to motivate and move a company along from startup, to booming in business. There are many things people can learn from Renaissance Leadership, some of the main ideas include: needing to put in the hard work to achieve a goal, relationships make the world go round and everyone has something that drives and motivates them. These are amongst many of the important pieces of knowledge that Renaissance Leadership teaches people.


A lot of what I took away from this trip, is the different ways we can improve New Zealand. No country is perfect but in terms of startup businesses and taking the initial leap of faith, New Zealand is far behind. I have come to realise that if you have the idea and the motivation and passion, you will make it work. We need to start reaching for the stars more instead of being content with mediocrity. Also, it’s not just our customers that need to be taken care of. As a founder or CEO of a small start up company, the employees that get you to corporate levels should be respected and treated as the valued member they are of the business. Something that San Francisco businesses seem to do incredibly well is make everything they can easier for their employees, be that having a convenient place to iron a shirt or providing meals so they don’t have to concern themselves with finding the time to make their own. This is how I plan to run any of my future businesses. First by taking the leap of faith and going with my gut on an idea, and treating my employees the way they really deserve to be treated.