Welcome to the first installment of our “My … America” web special. For our inaugural post, we’re talking with Khun Worawisut Pinyoyang of Shift Ventures who, last year, spent approximately 5 months in the U.S. touring the country’s tech capital Silicon Valley in San Francisco, California, which is home to world’s tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.
Why San Francisco?
I wanted to see the birthplace of many technology giants. It is also where startups are happening. The startup scene in Thailand is coming, so I wanted to go get the latest updates about the industry, as most of them all started in Silicon Valley.
What did you do during your trip?
I got a chance to also attend many of the top technology conferences such as TechCrunch Disrupt, Lean Startup Conference, Growth Marketing, Angel Launch, Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship Forum and many more. At these conferences, I was able to hear leaders in the field talk about their experience and share their knowledge in addition to having an “offline” chat with the speakers at the press center afterwards. Although I was able to attend some of these chats since I was a member of the Thai media ,writing for aday magazine at the time, I wasn’t able to attend them all. However, as a member of the press, I was able to save 35,000 baht to attend the TechCrunch event.
I also got the chance to meet with lots of Thai people who work as software engineers for Silicon Valley companies like Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Salesforce. All of them went to the States to study and were then hired by these companies after graduation.
What were you most impressed with while you were in the U.S.?
I was really impressed with the Thai food in San Francisco because they make it the best! It’s really good and I ate a lot of Thai food while I was there since I don’t like Western food very much. I was also in awe of how technologically advanced the city is. It’s already a tech city so technology exists in almost every aspect of everyday life. Uber use is very common, as well as Airbnb. Everything from food delivery and parking, can be managed with an app.
What was your takeaway from this trip?
There are a lot of startup insights about the new tools and methods out there that I can apply to my life.. Also, I learned some new perspectives from my meetings and from listening to people at the conferences, which I think had the same atmosphere as a college class. I got to hear opinions and thoughts from people from different countries. People there are also very talkative! I went to a workshop and I couldn’t even keep up. They were very opinionated and wanted to ask questions all the time, especially during the conferences. The host had to tell people to stop asking questions. Americans are very vocal, but that’s normal.
Do you have any tips for other travelers about the U.S.?
Their laws are very strict, especially traffic laws. Over there you have to stop at every stop sign, while we might be used to ignoring them. I also accidentally ran a red light once because I was looking at the wrong traffic light. A traffic camera captured my license plate and it was sent to where I was staying, and the fine was hefty. In Thailand, when we see a yellow light, we usually speed up.
People are also very friendly. It’s not dangerous, but there are of course shady areas like in any city. At night it can get pretty scary, so I would usually walk faster, but nothing happened.
Also, if you’re in the U.S. for a longer period of time, the best way to save money is to cook your own food. Food there is very expensive. For example a bowl of Thai noodles costs US$10! But, the portion lasts you the whole day.
Anything you wish you could have done?
I feel really bummed that I couldn’t go to Disney World in Orlando. Florida. I wanted to go but it was time to go home. I’m definitely going back to do everything I wanted to do that I didn’t get to.
Khun Worawisut Pinyoyang is the founder of Shift Ventures. He also writes a regular column “IT Trade” about the startup industry in GM Biz magazine. He can be found on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.