It is the home of big companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple: Silicon Valley.

It is an area in the US the size of the Randstad, where investments in start-ups are 45 times higher than in the Netherlands as a whole.

What makes this region near San Francisco so attractive to entrepreneurs, and what can other start-ups learn from it?

Entrepreneur Wibe Wagemans and journalist Eva Schram have both worked in the region for years and were looking for answers for their book

The Secret of Silicon Valley


In recent years, Schram has interviewed many entrepreneurs in the area.

What did she notice?

"The way people network here is much more accessible. People are approachable for a cup of coffee and help each other. In the Netherlands, the idea is that as soon as you have an inspiration, you should protect it."

"In the Netherlands, everyone stays on their own island and you learn little from each other."

Eva Schram

Wagemans also recognizes this openness, and even sees competitors in Silicon Valley discussing new ideas with each other.

"Everything to improve it, because in the end it is the execution that makes the difference."

It may sound a bit illogical, but Schram explains that ideas for a new company are so early in the beginning that sharing cannot hurt.

"As soon as you work it out more, you give less of course. But in the Netherlands everyone stays on their own island and you learn little from each other."

It is related to the extreme concentration of talent in the region.

Schram puts it as follows: "There is always someone smarter than you, you have to take advantage of that."

Advice in exchange for a share in your company

According to American custom, anyone who does not yet dare to share their idea with the competitor could do well to appoint a so-called Advisory Board.

"You give a few percent of the shares to a group of experts and they help you work out your plan in return. You don't pay anything now, but as your company grows, the profits of these advisers grow," explains Schram. .

This method of payment in the long term is in line with the Silicon Valley method, where people help each other without immediately getting anything in return.

"Instead of '

pay back

' you work via the principle of '

pay forward

'", Wagemans explains.

You help someone in your network by introducing people to each other, and the next time someone else thinks of you again.

"You don't see that as much with European start-ups."

Scandals and lack of social safety net in San Francisco

Yet not everything is cake and egg in Silicon Valley, as evidenced by the large number of scandals at companies in the region.

"In our book, we are not afraid to address the downside of Silicon Valley, such as the lack of diversity and the power of companies such as Google and Facebook. But one thing does not rule out the other: you can take over the good things from the Valley without import the bad, ‚ÄĚsays Schram.

What's more, there's more at stake in the San Francisco area: the cost of living is so high that it's not uncommon for people who lose their jobs to soon lose their rent.

"The social safety net in the Netherlands, which you can fall back on if your company fails, is completely lacking here," Schram explains.

At the same time Wagemans suggests that this actually increases the will to succeed.

"There is a certain hunger here to be successful."