Interview with Mr. SergeySamusev, Co-Founder of Startup Embassy
1. Thank you very much for your time and contributing to Startup Community in Silicon Valley, please tell about your background.
My name is Sergey, and I’m a co-founder of Startup Embassy. I’ve studied economics and business at university, and have worked in digital advertising and business operations at Google for past 7.5 years, both in Europe and in Silicon Valley. I’ve also had some startup projects of my own, they were my best lessons so far. My co-founder, Carlos, was a telecommunications engineer in Spain, and later became a tech entrepreneur and moved to Silicon Valley. We both met at Startup Embassy, which was at that time also his own office and home.
2. Please explain your project and how did you started Startup Embassay?
It started with a failure, like many things in Silicon Valley. In 2011, my co-founder came to Silicon Valley from Spain to run his startup. To save on rent, he started sharing the house with other entrepreneurs. His startup failed a year later, but his house was full of entrepreneurs following their dreams. This is how he found himself running a ‘Hacker House’, which he named Startup Embassy. A couple years later, after hundreds of guests went through the house, Carlos started to notice that some founders started to get good business traction. That’s when he realized that what he was doing something bigger than just running a house with 4 bedrooms.
3. What is unique about your Startup Embassy?
I like to think it’s the culture inside. You’re always surrounded by like-minded motivated entrepreneurs who are willing to help and inspire each other. This matters a lot to people who’re here to build their companies. And we do everything to support them and to make sure they feel at home. Most people remain good friends long after they leave the place.
4. What kind of entrepreneurs live there?
We’re open to any entrepreneurs working on innovative and unique ideas. There’s a range of entrepreneurs we host – some are just playing with their first idea, some had past success and now building their next thing. Most of them are of course tech based, since this is Silicon Valley. Our guests come from variety of countries and have very diverse backgrounds and experience. This helps to ensure that everyone can learn something new and useful from each other.
5. Why Palo Alto?
You shouldn’t be asking this question you know 😉 Ok, within 10 mins walk you have people who founded and leading Facebook, Apple, Google, as well as founders and investors of the hottest startups out there. Stanford campus is 20 mins walk. San Francisco has even more startups, but we’re just a 1 hour away by train, and weather in Palo Alto is much better 🙂 I recommend Steve Blank’s guide to get a better sense of different parts of Silicon Valley: https://steveblank.com/visitors-guide.
6. How do you get so many entrepreneurs from around the world? Whats the ambassador system?
Most founders who stay once come back, and they also help to spread the word. But of course new founders also find us through social media, search, press, and things like that.
We review every application and only accept people working on startups or something very venture in nature. After our guests leave, they become our alumni (we call them ‘ambassadors’) and continue having access to the community. Since we’re still not very big, most ambassadors we know personally and we’re always happy to see them and and introduce people to each other whenever we can. Our ambassadors also keep in touch and help each other back in their home cities.
7. How do you make money?
Today we charge our guests per night for their stay. Our prices are much cheaper than any hotels in the area, since our guests sleep in shared bedrooms. But the benefit is that they have a fully equipped kitchen, office space and living room, laundry – all open 24/7. Our WiFi works everywhere too and you can walk to most places in Palo Alto in minutes. But our model is still evolving and we’re experimenting with a number of new ideas and services in the future. Our goal is to always stay affordable for early stage founders and provide value to startup community.
8. How do you help startups?
Besides providing them with a place that feels like home and has the right culture, we don’t promise anything else. But people who are doing the right thing here can get so much more. First, our guests and broader community support each other. You can always ask person sitting next to you or just message people in a slack channel, and you’ll have someone reaching out to you. Our team also spends time with all our guests, and if we see a way to help them with feedback, ideas or connections in the valley, we always do. And sometimes stories like this happen: https://vimeo.com/240656341.
Blockchain meetup at night at Startup Embassy
9. What’s your vision?
We’re building a 2nd home for entrepreneurs with HQ in Silicon Valley, that involves both specific physical environment and community inside. We’re only in Palo Alto today, but I think in the future this is something that can scale to every large startup ecosystem out there.
10. Please write a message to your potential strategic partners in Silicon Valley or another cities around the world.
If your mission is to support entrepreneurs in your country and help founders get on a global stage, we’d love to hear from you and see you visit us in Palo Alto.
Let me us a quote from late Stephen Hawking, whose life and work are a huge inspiration for me personally and many entrepreneurs I know:
Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.
Startup Embassy on Social Media