Dear Silicon Valley, Thank You

Dear Silicon Valley, Thank you for the hospitality. You've been great. This was really my first time here and you sure did deliver. I don't think I have ever been so astounded with a community and its people. Every single person I met (all people who never even heard of me before) extended a gracious hand to give me advice and help me as much as possible. It appeared that every body was connected and every body was friends. World - learn from this. This is a culture worth emulating. Sure, I occasionally felt the competitive nature between investors and the same between startup entrepreneurs, but alas that is the nature of business. All in all, it was a feeling of openness, friendliness, and free-lunchedness. Never heard a bad word about another person come out of another's mouth. It was all, "Oh I love him!" or "He's an awesome dude" and "What can I do to help?" This week has been surprisingly eye-opening and only made me fall more in love with the idea of living here. Honestly though, my heart was warmed to know that such a community exists in this world and that it is possible to develop a place like this., There were several people I met and talked to that really made this week worthwhile for me (skipped a few classes...) and instead of sending them all more thank you emails I will use this as my medium: PG of YC, thank you for grilling us and putting us through the most pressured interview we will ever encounter in our lives. And thank you for making us cry inside :). Now we are ready for everything, and have grown as a team. YC is ours next cycle. Jessica of YC, thank you for making us feel so comfortable as we walked into the interview, lowering our guards to the attack to come. And also thank you for making us feel so much better as we walked out :) You're the best. Harj of YC, thank you for being awesome. @YC_Y_U_NO loves you! Thanks for laughing with us during the interview, the lovely email afterwards, and just being an awesome guy. We hope to run into you and really get to meet in better circumstances. Kirsty of YC, thank you for being so kind about me forgetting to pick up our travel check :). And thanks for letting me stick around to use the Wi-fi. Ev of Mailgun, thank you for just being a great guy - helping us prep for the interview, being there for our interview, and sharing a couple awesome ideas with us. Definitely keep in touch and hope to be able to help you out as well in the future. Daniel of Accel, thanks first and foremost for introducing us to the greatest hot chocolate place in the world (I will keep the identity secret). Second, thanks for showing me around, brainstorming with me, and for some great intros! Chris of Like.fm and Matthew of Moki.tv, thanks for sharing advice with a fellow young YC hopeful. You guys did something right, and we are going to learn from it! Daniel of Twilio, thanks for showing me around the digs! The office is awesome, I can see how you fell in love with the company. Also thanks for the coffee, and sharing stories about your rise to startup greatness. Nirav and Sarah of Benchmark, thanks for sharing your wisdom to me. It really helped me figure things out a little better. And also thanks for calling Dave McClure with me :). Jack and Rob of Milo, thank you for meeting with a fellow Penn student! You guys are my inspiration and I really appreciate being able to talk to you both and learning from the best young entrepreneurs I know. Also, love the place down in San Jose but also wish it also closer to the city. Allan of YCR, thanks for the kind words and the willingness to help out as well! You're getting famous - enjoy it! Noah and Calvin of Minno, thanks for being super cool and smart guys. Congrats on YC and I know you guys are going to take it all the way. Love hanging with you both and I hope this is a start of a beautiful friendship. Gerry of Google, thanks for being so kind to a kid you met on the airplane. I really appreciate it, really :) Taylor of Mailgun, thanks for sitting with me in Mountain View to chat about ideas, markets, etc. Really helpful to be able to brainstorm with someone with that much experience. Rick of Comprehend Clinical and Michael of Carwoo, thanks for chatting with me at the Y Combinator offices. Definitely calmed my nerves. Also loved just meeting more YC guys - you are all so smart! Dave of 500 Startups, thanks for taking a call from a nobody like me and letting me drop by the office! I know we did not get too much time to talk, but it was super-cool meeting you and hope to catch up soon. Dave of TeachStreet, thanks for being the most helpful person I still have not ever met. Maybe it's a Seattle thing or maybe it's an sv thing, but you are an incredible man. Thanks for the advice and for all the referrals. I owe you one (or a million). Clint of Roblox, thanks for lunch again! And thanks for continuing to meet and mentor such a young guy. Always love chatting and hope you thought up some good stuff on that idea of ours... Adam of True Ventures, thanks for the tacos :). Thanks for introducing me to energetic founders and thanks for just being purely nice to someone that walks in to your office.. Mitch, Courtney, and Amadeus of Kiip/Eightbit, thanks for talking to me! WHAT?? Just met Kiip and Eightbit guys...so cool. I'm a very happy. Nathan of InternMatch, thanks for meeting with me at 8AM! So early! Glad you woke up to meet another Penn guy down in the valley. Also thanks for showing me around 500 startups. Christine of 500 Startups, thanks for chatting with a guy awkwardly sitting in your office and listening to our pitch :). Hopefully you liked us! Brendan of AngelList, thanks for giving us the advice on dealing with Angels and thanks for the super kind words! Very glad we got to meet. Hope to bump into you again real soon. Joshua and co of Venrock startup, thanks for meeting up with me while I'm down here and, as always, thanks for the encouraging words! Your guys' product is awesome, goodluck. Semil of Entrepreneurship..., thanks for getting coffee with me and helping me really think through our ideas. It was definitely really helpful and hope to stay in touch! Ryan of Dogpatch Labs, thanks for inviting me to the event! It was awesome getting tips on how to pitch. Also thanks for chatting with me for the few minutes you had free. Thomas of Nowmov, thanks for the cheesecake :) Mmmm. It was delicious. Thanks for also showing me around downtown and just talking startups with me. Most of all, thanks for showing me what I'm really passionate about :). Garry of Posterous, woah thanks for even looking in my general direction! Posterous, what?? You're an awesome and really chill guy so thank you for humoring me as I talked through my experience with YC and all our ideas. Hope to keep being able to bounce ideas off you and get some design tips. Joe of InboxQ, thanks for being so helpful! We only just met at Y Combinator, but you still did us a solid. We learned a lot from talking with you and will keep you updated. Jeff and Charles of SoftTech, thanks for taking a meeting with a nobody 18 year old. You guys are bosses. I really enjoyed meeting more legends of the valley and it was cool just getting your time of day. Hope to hear from you guys soon :) Ashley of SoftTech, thanks for chatting with me before the meeting! You are awesome and hope you are having a great time here in the valley. The weather definitely beats the PNW. YC_Y_U_NO, thanks buddy!!! TROLOLOL. You helped us do most of this. To all I may have missed: thank you thank you thank you for just helping me fall in love with the valley and this pro-entrepreneur community!

Learning by helping

Woops, almost forgot to post tonight - it's 7AM who can blame me? Thanks to the wonders of the iPhone WordPress app I can write this short and sweet blurb as I drift asleep in the comfort of my bed.

Today I was reminded of a very valuable life lesson - you get just as much out of helping someone as they get by being helped. I'm sure there are plenty of studies or philosophers out there that can point to how or why being a teacher actually helps you learn a subject better but here's a little anecdote from my life earlier today (er yesterday).

I got a tweet two nights ago saying the site wasn't working for them. I stayed in touch trying to figure out what was wrong. Unfortunately I had to leave the situation to get a precious 3 hrs of sleep before an exam I had to take. But after I woke up I continued to work on this persons case (@thesraid whose twitter handle is escaping me right now).

I looked, couldn't find his name on the database, then looked and couldn't find his oauth id. He told me maybe it was because his name had an apostrophe in it. I thought I had taken care of that problem with my mysql_escape_string calls but I looked at where the problem could lie.

Turns out there was one function (which believe it or not was the crucial function of registering a user) that did not call this. So I added it (also apologies to everyone else that suffered because of my mistake) and thought nice done. Good to go.

Wrong. More problems. Now his page wasn't loading. Looked through the source, and realized he was making it into the database now but when getting his named called to the page it broke the JavaScript because of his apostrophe again. So I called addSlashes and things worked like a charm. After things got fixed he thanked me and told me about how one time an envelope was addressed to him (John O Undefined Character String vs John O'Riordan insert funny name here later when I can remember).

Basically, I could have spent some previous hours preparing for either of my Midterms or sleeping but I knew it would be valuable to help out a user with a mistake I made. Turned out I learned something and got another user successfully registered!

I am a firm believer in help out as much as you can and you wont be disappointed. Glad I won't have to flip flop on that anytime soon.