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Vlad Voskresensky about the life of Silicon Valley: "Cocoa does not flow from a hose here"

Photo ain.ua

In the Ukrainian IT market, Vlad Voskresensky is known primarily for the fact that in chaotic times he ventured to switch from outsourcing to the grocery business. In the Silicon Valley, the Resurrection has been living since 2005 of the year. What is it really like - Silicon Valley, can you call it a Mecca of startups and are there really so expensive that even IT professionals sometimes have to live in a trailer?

About life between Kiev and the Valley

- Today half of the time I live in the Valley, and half - in Kiev: there is a toothbrush both there and there, - says Vlad in an interview. AIN.UA... - There is no one to sell the product in Ukraine - for this you need to be in the United States. So I had to first fly there on business trips, and eventually move.

Feeling at home in the Valley came to 2007-2008 year, when I had spent enough time here (from 2005 year) and began to understand basic household things: how to get numbers for a car, how to go to the hospital, and so on.

I live in now Bay area. Here we rent corporate housing. Colleagues from Ukraine often come to us for all sorts of exhibitions, meetings, and when we considered how much money we spend on hotels, we realized that it is cheaper to rent a house. For us, it works as a base, as an office, and corny here you can just lay down your things.

I have no desire to buy my own housing and settle down. In America, it is comfortable to work and achieve something, and I feel at home here. But if I look far ahead, then ultimately I would like to return to Ukraine. Just because this is my home.

Photo facebook.com/vlad.voskresensky

About visa and taxes

At first, when I flew on business trips, I had a business visa. But over time, these trips became longer and longer. Finally, I realized that this could not continue any longer - you need to get the correct status, because it was already on the verge of a violation.

Now I have an L-visa, the so-called Intercompany transfer for companies that have offices both in America and outside. It allows you to easily transport your employees as needed from other countries to the USA. So for the people that we needed here, we made L-visas so that they moved to the USA.

I know many people who abuse business visas. They use the fact that the Americans give them a six-month stamp, and live with it. But it's not right.

At one point, you will either be taken away from your business status or will not renew your visa. I would recommend to treat the visa issue very carefully and study everything carefully.

Also, do not play with taxes in the United States. In Ukraine, for some reason, it is fashionable to assume that not paying taxes is cool. But in America they are being watched and, if anything, severely punished. Therefore, the issue of taxes is also recommended to study: a banal stay here for a certain time at some point may lead to the need to file tax reports and pay local taxes.

Photo ain.ua

About the advantages and disadvantages of the Valley for life and work

Do not confuse tourism with emigration. Cocoa from a hose does not flow here. There is no such thing that you have arrived, and investors are already hunting for you at the airport, by the evening you are ready to buy, and tomorrow you are a unicorn.

The valley is a place where it is necessary to work hard and for a long time, and it is really difficult. But it is beautiful because here, on a rather small area, the maximum number of people who can be useful to you is concentrated. Investors, entrepreneurs, techies, visionaries. When you start to boil it, it spurs you.

Girls in Manhattan ask a guy what car he has, and girls in the Valley what a startup he has.

The saying is old, but it has a lot of meaning. When you get here and try to integrate into this ecosystem, you tune in to the same wave, and soon you get completely different ideas. From this point of view, the Valley is, of course, Mecca.

Yes, you have to go here, you have to be here. You must first understand and accept this atmosphere, and then try to work at this speed and also treat innovations. But there is no panacea here. There is no such thing that you came - and everything worked out right away. There are a lot of companies and startups that are successful outside the Valley.

And frankly, looking at the price of the issue - staying here, hiring people, etc. - you shouldn’t rush to go to the Valley to build a startup. These times are over. A startup needs to be built somewhere else, and go to the Valley to scale. When it has already started to turn out, but you want to grow faster and make global expansion. Because here the experience in such matters is off scale.

How comfortable it is to live in the Valley

America is generally a very comfortable country. I lived in different countries of Europe - Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany - and I personally feel more comfortable than in the States, except for Ukraine, was not anywhere.

Although at first the States simply shook me in a negative sense - after Switzerland and Germany, the contrast was not in favor of the United States. I expected that it would be even cooler, but in the end I saw that there were dirty places in places, unkempt people, unkempt flowerbeds ... But I accepted it and got used to it, for me there is a certain degree of freedom in it.

In my second week in the States, I ended up at a party. There an American approached me and asked where I was from. I began to tell him that I came from Kiev to work, but he could not understand where it was. Then he asked: "Listen, where do you live now?". I replied: "I rented an apartment in San Mateo." And then he said: "Well, everything, then you are from San Mateo."

America is a country of immigrants, here the attitude towards them is very even and neutral - when you immediately own it, it is very captivating.

If in your brain you turn off the fad that you are a stranger, then on the second day here you become your own, and this is really cool. In no other country have I felt that way.

Free time in the Valley

I prefer to be in the Valley than in Kiev, both in terms of work and free time. In Kiev, I have a working schedule shifted under America: I come to the office for the 12-13 of the day and until midnight I am there. It turns out a crumpled day, you miss all the evenings and in the morning you also don’t have time to do a lot of things.

Here I wake up at 6-7 in the morning for calls from Europe, then the East Coast, West Coast, to 12, I end all telephone conversations, and then you can go to meetings. It is better not to go to meetings in the Valley before 11, so as not to get stuck in traffic in the morning. I smile when I hear complaints about traffic jams from Kiev residents: who wants to know what real traffic jams are - “we caress the Sun in the Sleeping Valley”! From 7 to 9 and from 16 to 18, it's better not to stick out on the roads. Otherwise, you just stand and grow old on these highways.

My free time comes from three to four in the evening. Sometimes I take a laptop, go to the ocean, put a folding chair there and work. This is very productive, especially if you turn off the Internet.

In addition to the work options to spend time also weight. The nature in California is beautiful, so the bike, surfing, just a beach holiday - all this is and is available. I know a lot of people who trudge from concerts that are constantly held here, parties, etc. I myself am far from this - this is not something that drives me. My method of shutting off the brain is sport. I'm play soccer.

The valley is interesting because here work with life is intertwined very closely. You come in the evening at Starbucks: someone drinks coffee and talks, and someone with a laptop agrees with India because she has already woken up. This is precisely the part of the Valley culture when you see that people around are constantly doing something. And you think, and why am I worse? And you also start doing something.

Photo ain.ua

About the cost of living in the Valley

Here, insanely expensive housing and services, although food and clothing prices are about the same as everywhere in America, and even in Kiev. In Kiev, clothes are more expensive, but food is cheaper. In America, the opposite.

A month at least $ 3000 will go to life in the Valley, and that is if you live in some kind of coliving. If you rent your house - $ 5000 minimum.

Last week I heard from someone that the poverty line in San Francisco now is $ 105 000 per year of income per family.

I do not keep personal accounting, but let's try to count. Renting our house with all utility bills and minimal household expenses, such as the Internet, toilet paper and lawn mowing, costs about $ 5600 per month. The rest is who overclock.

Food - highly dependent on where and how. If you eat only from the supermarket, then I think $ 500- $ 800 a month will be enough for your head. But this does not work for me, since there are many meetings in public places - from Starbucks to Steak House, and there, depending on the situation, sometimes you not only pay your bills, but also clients / partners.

Gasoline is cheaper here than in Ukraine, but the distances are further, and you are constantly in the car. Therefore, given that we are always going somewhere, it turns out about $ 300-400 at a minimum of petrol. Do not forget about parking - the usual approach in Kiev to park on pavements and flower beds in the civilized world causes surprise and towing. Valley parking is very different - from free to $ 25-30 per hour in downtown San Francisco. Paid bridges are on the order of $ 5. Cell phone with mobile internet - $ 50 per month.

Probably, this is the whole "minimum consumer basket". Clothes I do not think this is a personal matter. Entertainment is similar. I note only that they are not cheap here. Concert Coldplay this week, from $ 100, a ski pass to the most popular resorts in Tahoe - $ 150 per day, and so on.

But the most important summary is that it does not depend on costs, but on results. From goals and whether they can be achieved. The height of the madness (which I, alas, often see) is to come to the Valley, and instead of living here the local life, stumble upon laptops and start working from home. The schedule is shifted (they also need to communicate with people when they are in the office, and in the Valley at this time of the night), there is neither time nor energy for local events. And you look - the person came to come, but continues to live and work, as he did in Kiev (or where he came from). This is of course the “brilliant” efficiency.

High prices in the Valley, in my opinion, create more problems for people who are not from IT: I frankly do not understand how a person survives who works at the checkout in a supermarket or a taxi driver. But they are also necessary and important for the local community. Therefore, as far as I know, San Francisco has a rather negative attitude towards IT people - the city is trying to push them out. If this is a big company - okay, but now it’s impossible to get a license for coliving or coworking - then go to the Valley.

As one of my investors says: there are no expensive things in life - there are inefficient ones. Therefore, you need to understand why you are going here. And if you come - learn to get the maximum value from the time spent here. Here, these are meetings, connections, feedback, investments, pitching, attracting first customers, etc. - there is no sense in going to the Valley for everything else. You can wonderfully sit in Kiev or Texas, make a startup - and everything will be fine.

Photo ain.ua

On the influence of Valley culture on lifestyle

I am an optimist in life, but here people are even more open to new ideas. Previously, the situation in Ukraine was this: you tell someone, they say, there is an idea - I will do a startup, and they look at you as if you are crazy - go and find a normal job. Although now it has changed for the better.

In the Valley, when you come up with an idea, there will never be a negative reaction to it. The worst thing you can hear is: “Sorry, this is not my area at all, I don’t even know who to introduce you to.” But usually the reaction is: “Oh, cool, I know a guy to whom this can be useful, let me introduce you.”

There is a huge number of venture investors who can listen to you and give you feedback. In essence, this is free consulting - something people pay a lot of money for. Here you can constantly rotate around the crowd of people who drive the industry forward. And it is not entrepreneurs who drive it, but venture funds. Because they decide who to give money to.

Now everything goes to AI and machine learning is not because entrepreneurs have run there, they just started giving money there - so they ran.

This is a very big value of the Valley: the density of venture capital investors per square meter is high, they are of different caliber - from angels who earned on shares Facebook, up super Private Equity Fundsthat invest a lot of millions in a huge scale. Even if you do not have a goal to raise money now, it is definitely necessary to communicate with them, because when such a goal appears it will be too late to start.

Of course, there is a queue for them, so they are very selective in who to devote the minutes of their time. More chance to chat with associate partnersThis is also very useful. Best of all is a personal intro.

About people in the Valley and their differences from Kiev

After moving to the Valley, I completely stopped rushing to other people, and learned how to let them forward in a queue or in traffic. You understand that this costs you nothing, in principle. Need to hurry in business, not at the checkout. You are missed in return, you are smiling - all this creates the right emotional background, your mood improves. In the Valley, I began to behave differently with strangers around me — openness is captivating, and you quickly become the same. Talking to a neighbor in the elevator, discussing how the day goes, paying for the purchase is not just in the order of things, but almost a necessary ritual. I remember earlier in Kiev it was very often that if you smiled for no reason at all to that person, he looked at you with disbelief and expected a trick. In the States it is completely different, and I am glad that in Kiev now it is changing for the better. At least from what I see around me when I come.

The most important difference between the inhabitants of the Valley from the people of Kiev: optimism about the future and openness to change.

I can understand the tram driver in Kiev, which is really difficult. But I absolutely can’t understand IT people who skate like butter and complain about how bad they live in Ukraine.

Those salaries that they receive, those small taxes that they pay, and those life bones that exist in Ukraine, leave them so much that the average citizen can only dream of such. There is a good phrase on this subject: “what matters is not how much you get, but how much you have left.”

And it annoys me when I come to Ukraine and hear from them that life is not a cake, the foiegra is no longer so tasty and they are not allowed to go on holiday in Bali for three weeks. To go nuts. In the Valley, people go on vacation on 15 days a year and that is rare, because it is not accepted here. And no one complains about anything: everyone is brainstorming about how tomorrow will be better than today, and begin to build it. Here is a mindset. In Kiev, a little bit different. I hope - bye.

There are many household differences: rudeness on the roads, parking chaos, when people don’t think about others at all and don’t remember that as soon as they get out of the car they will turn into pedestrians on the same sidewalks. I'm a big fan Revolutionary Persons, but I think that “in the land of many people, people left the park as yak assholes”.

Once we hired a very expensive American specialist, she was the first VP of Sales in Siebel (software maker, company in 2006 year swallowed Oracle for $ 5,8 billion - ed.), has already earned everything in her life, she wanted just a fan from work. And now she came to Kiev for the first time, we walked along Sophia Square, we were actively discussing something, suddenly she stopped, walked a couple of meters back, picked up a piece of paper, brought it to the nearest bin and threw it away.

I was not surprised, because by that moment I already understood how the Americans treat such things. I simply presented in its place a Ukrainian who achieved something in life. And for some reason, such people here immediately begin to consider themselves the navel of the earth - before they throw a piece of paper into the ballot box, they will not “go down”. We do not have the understanding that you live in society and somehow owe it to us.

Fortunately for the last 10 years that I live between Kiev and the Valley, Kiev has changed a lot. If you had to look for people with whom you have the desire to communicate, and to pretend that the inhospitable and boorish world does not exist around you, now, arriving in Kiev, I see normal cultural people who don’t push or gnaw after you walk past them in the crowd. Three years ago, this was not, and it makes me very happy.

Photo ain.ua

About returning to Ukraine

I never planned to move to the Valley for good. Otherwise, I would have long focused on getting a green card and declared myself an American. I love America, but I love Ukraine even more and I am not going to leave it forever.

Fortunately, we live in a globalized world, where there are no problems with living anywhere and feeling at home. This is not the 90s, when you lived in isolation from the news, suffered from a lack of food - the same as in your homeland, etc. Now, if I want black bread with lard and vodka, I will go to the Ukrainian store in the Valley and buy it all. Fortunately, I don't suffer so much without these things, so everything is ok.

Read also on ForumDaily:

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Miscellanea Our people Silicon Valley Ukrainian startup life in the USA
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