On November 29 I ventured to San Francisco for 5 days. My time was great combination of work, fun, spending time with people I care about, eating great food, & exploring the city.
Tuesday I left Michigan for a brief layover in Las Vegas (my first time in Vegas & enough time to play my first slot machine). I arrived in San Fran after 9 pm Cali time & by the time I went to bed I had been awake for 23 hours straight!
I put $1 in the Red, White, & Blue slot machine at the Las Vegas Airport
I didn't win. Boo!
Wednesday morning I walked to the office of one of our portfolio companies, Giftly. It was a beautiful walk & a great way to start the day. Sunny, crisp air, & lots of activity downtown. Giftly’s offices are a great example of a fun & open workplace. Lots of windows. Open tables. A large conference room. Dogs. & Giftly spirit. Marc (RPM Partner) & I met with Giftly CEO Timothy Bentley, & we also got a chance to meet some of the Giftly team – Dan, Mills, Nish.
After meeting with Giftly Marc & I drove down to Redwood City for an Xtime board meeting. Going from meeting with Giftly, a company at a very early stage, to meeting with Xtime, a company that is at a much different stage, was really interesting. It was quite a contrast in looking at what the key areas of focus are, where time is being spent, & what the needs & concerns of the businesses are. The board meeting went long, a result of great discussion & lots to talk about. It was dark when we left to return to San Francisco, & I had planned to go explore the city that evening, but ended up falling asleep at my hotel as soon as my head hit the bed. The results of a long & full day!
Thursday morning I went for a run around the city. I stayed in the Chancellor Hotel on Powell Street in Union Square & for my run I decided to go to Lombard & make a big loop. That put me going straight uphill for the first part of my run. Great workout – definitely challenging!
After my morning run I got ready & headed out to walk to my first meeting of the day…a early stage company located on Townsend Street. It was between a 1 & 1.5 mile walk. I stopped at Bio (aka Crepe o Chocolat) on O’Farrell Street to pick up a morning snack. I got some soup (so I could drink it as I walked) & some chocolate. They had a lot of sweets to choose from, as well as juices & tea. I was not impressed by the service. In fact, it almost drove me away to stop by Starbucks or another cafe instead. *Note: I am a customer service snob.* I was in a hurry though, so I grabbed my food & was on my way. I enjoyed walking & seeing the city by foot. On my way I saw a billboard for Huddle. Billboards for tech companies…a sign of the times. The meeting went well – another example of an early stage company with a cool office vibe. Less open environment, like Giftly, but the team was friendly & there was a lot of windows. No dogs, that I saw.
After that meeting I took a cab to a board meeting near the Embarcadero. The cab driver that took me from point A to B was the first cab driver I have ever met that actually knew about venture capital. Only in San Francisco.
The board meeting for Mirror.me went well. I enjoy working with this company because it’s early & there’s still a lot to figure out. Lots of creation & lots of opportunity for my involvement. If you haven’t figured it out already, working with the portfolio is one of my favorite things about working at RPM.
After the board meeting, Tony (RPM Partner) & I headed to visit with a friend & entrepreneur at his office. Marc met us there, so it was like we were meeting back in Ann Arbor…except in San Francisco in a beautiful office with glass tables, lots of windows, well decorated, & great location. Drool. It was so great to catch up, meet the folks there, & then visit more across the street at Rickhouse.
That evening I went to dinner with two friends at Anchor & Hope on Minna Street. I honestly don’t remember what exactly I got to eat…I know I had a salad first & then a nice filet of fish served over sautéed brussel sprouts. Tasty!
Friday morning I went for a longer run through the city. It was one of those great mind-clearing, thinking type runs that I didn’t even listen to music during the run. I soaked up the San Francisco sun, thought about life, & breathed heavily going up hills! After my run I checked out of my hotel & headed to meet a friend for lunch. We went to Paladar, a Cuban restaurant on Kearny St. So tasty! My friend & I shared Mariquitas & Mojo (house made plantain chips with garlic dipping sauce). I got a Five Green Salad & Yuca Al Mojo (yuca with garlic, lime, & olive oil). My friend got Ensalada de Camarones (shrimp salad sandwich). After lunch I walked around a little bit & then parked at Starbucks for the afternoon to get some work done. I find that I am more productive working in coffee shops than I am in an office. Not sure why.
That evening I met a friend & fellow University of Michigan alum at Nook for Happy Hour, followed by an improv show at Un-scripted on Sutter St. We saw “A Tale of Two Genres”, a play on Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” & the genre they did it in was the movie “Cocoon” (a movie my friend & I have not seen). It was pretty good. Long-form. I prefer short-form (think SNL skits). Still a great time & great visiting with my friend!
Saturday morning I made my way to the Ferry Building (I walked from Hyde Street, so about 1.5 to 2 miles, with my suitcase & backpack. It was a trek, but such a great walk through Chinatown & the Financial District. Chinatown was pretty cool in the morning…so much activity! A huge contrast from the dead Financial District. Right before getting to the Ferry Building I encountered the Occupy San Francisco there. Huge! Biggest one I’ve seen yet.
The Farmer’s Market was happening at the Ferry Building. Incredible! So much fresh produce, locally made products, & unique California treats from walnuts to persimmons. I got an apple, some plums, some persimmons, a pomelo (looks like a big grapefruit), some dried fruit & California walnuts, & other treats. and of course I sampled all sorts of tasty treats!
I met a friend & fellow UofM alum & we explored the market & Ferry Building shops. Blue Bottle Coffee had long lines the entire morning! We grabbed lunch at Ferry Plaza Seafood. We split a dungeness crab (we asked for a small one, but check out the size of that sucker!) & a steamed artichoke (one of my must have’s when I go to California). The crab was so fresh – it came straight from the boat & didn’t even make it to a tank before our table.
Then I made my way to my second lunch at The Slanted Door with some friends. Still full from my first lunch I got a Grapefruit & Jicama salad with candied pecans. Pretty good. Fancy place. Glad I experienced it though.
The rest of the day I explored with a friend the Ferry Building & the Mission area. In the Mission we went to Bi-Rite Creamery, where I got chocolate coconut dairy-free ice cream & a strawberry pineapple popsicle. We also went to Tartine where I picked up some treats for my friends/hosts that night.
That night I went to dinner with some other friends at A16 on Chestnut St. in the Marina. Very tasty Italian food, but most importantly it was a great time visiting with friends!
Post-dinner I made my way to my friend’s apartment & we visited for awhile before going to bed. I called up an Uber in the morning & headed to the airport for a long day of travel. I was impressed with Uber. The cab promptly arrived & the service was great. And it was so convenient to pay via credit card before getting in the cab. The morning was beautiful making it even more challenging to leave “The Golden State”
Thanks to my friends & RPM for making my time in the Bay Area great!
I found a penny today (heads up), so if it is lucky maybe I will be in California again soon!
MEL aka Venture Gal