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Future Worlds

Future Worlds 23: Plugging into the Silicon Valley spirit

Future Worlds Silicon
The Plug and Play office in Palo Alto, CA

It’s day three of UKTN‘s coverage of the Future Worlds accelerator 2023 cohort’s trip across San Francisco. On Wednesday, the founders visited a true landmark of Silicon Valley, the Plug and Play office in Palo Alto.

The story behind the now-legendary accelerator and investor in many ways reflects the area’s spirit of turning lofty ideas into even loftier realities. The company started out as a rug shop in the 1990s, then founder Saeed Amidi started renting out office space to local startups.

When the fledging companies, including Google and PayPal, had trouble paying the rent, Amidi took equity, taking a chance that these companies would grow.

Fast forward to now and Plug and Play is one of the biggest names in the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem, backed by major corporate sponsors. The organisation exists to bring tech to industry, and industry to tech.

In many ways, the work done at Plug and Play is very similar to the Future Worlds team in Southampton, but on an enormous scale.

Touring Plug and Play

The Future World 2023 founders took their vision to the team at Plug and Play, eager to show they could stand tall among the US tech giants – including more than 30 unicorns – that have passed through the programme.

The cohort heard from the horse’s mouth what people in Silicon Valley want to see in a pitch. They learned about being an entrepreneur rather just an inventor. They learned what strengths to share loudly, and what goes into the all-important ‘it factor’ that makes and breaks startups in the Bay.

With the Valley mindset effectively imprinted on them, the founders delivered practice pitches to the Plug and Play staff. While pitching is something the cohort was more than used to doing, there was a special significance in delivering their presentations on such hallowed ground.

“When you come into the space, you see all these companies on the wall. Some of them are huge companies, most of them are huge companies,” said Til Jordan, founder of LZero Analytics, a platform to address performance and security issues in blockchain networks.

While any young founder might be nervous pitching their startup in the Palo Alto office, for Jordan and the rest of the cohort, the confidence projected by entrepreneurs in the region had rubbed off on them.

“Although we’re from Southampton and we’re still early stage, our pitches were really good, we presented actual problems and we have actual solutions for them.”

The Future Worlds accelerator, part of the University of Southampton, arranged for a UKTN reporter to follow its 2023 cohort on its trip through Silicon Valley.

The trip included founders from Amara Automotive, Asterium, evtonomy, Journally, LZero and MicroVita.