‘Rev’ing’ it up with Facebook
After a national competition, RunMyErrand was one of 25 companies invited to be part of Facebook’s fbFund Rev 2009 incubator program this summer in Palo Alto, CA. The program will last 10 weeks, and RunMyErrand team members from the engineering and business realm will be participating. We arrived into SFO late the night of Tuesday, June 16, drove to Palo Alto Wednesday morning, and, still on East coast time, eagerly waited outside the Facebook office on Hamilton Avenue for the 1:30 p.m. kickoff event.
I was over dressed in my typical east coast business attire, but quickly settled into the casual and creative style of the other attendees. The event started with an inspiring, off-the-cuff speech by Dave Morin, senior platform manager at Facebook. This is the first year Facebook has run the Rev incubator program. So, he explained, the 25 companies involved are the founding members, and using our feedback and suggestions, Facebook plans to mold the effort into something very special. Dave was genuinely humbled looking at the companies in the room, thinking back to a time when Facebook staffers thought they might have a few thousand developers loosely creating on the platform. Here he was standing before us, looking at all our exciting business models, standing on our own two feet, with the central point of our focus being Facebook. Pretty cool.
Just as a summer camp might start, we also began with a fun icebreaker, called, “Two truths and a lie.” It was fun getting to know the other people and companies in the room, and the goal of the game was to guess which was the lie out of three statements a person made. Mine went something like 1) I am a marketing professional, 2) My favorite food is sushi, and 3) My favorite mode of transportation is a little green Vespa. Can you guess my lie? They could not, although here’s a hint: I was a math and computer science major in college.
On more of a business note, part of the program includes having access to mentors assigned to each company. RunMyErrand received four mentors, and I had the pleasure of meeting one of them during the week—Rob Fan. Rob is the CTO of 750 Industries and hugely impressive. After an intense 45-minute power session, I am absolutely a fan (pun intended). Having access to seasoned entrepreneurs and investors who understand and are excited about this social space is fantastic.
The office space Facebook provided is pretty neat, too. It’s three stories (plus a roof deck) right in the heart of downtown Palo Alto. It is the original Facebook office; the company had just moved out a mere three weeks before we arrived, and impressions of the original group linger in wall graffiti like hieroglyphics written on cave walls, not to mention the whips of Ethernet and power cords descending from the ceiling. We’re told everything is within walking distance, including all the major VC firms on the West Coast. We were also told to be careful of what we said in public, as we never knew who would be listening, or if we would be pitching the same people the following week. Wow, what a mind shift, as I wondered how many people before me suffered through a “foot in my mouth” moment. The energy and buzz in the downtown area is intoxicating and inspiring. It feels like a melting pot of creativity, intensity, and hard work, with a splash of genius.
Besides the amazing space, the mentoring program, and the all access we have to the Facebook team, the most exciting part of the time here is being able to meet, live, and breathe with the 24 other companies participating in the program. I am so impressed by the other teams, and know that we can learn a lot from each of them. There are engineers, designers, artists, and business minds, and what joins us all is the passion we share for what we do, and a vision for taking it to the next level. For me, getting to meet these other incubatees, and hearing about their experiences, trials, and tribulations, is truly inspiring. From iPhone Apps to pure Facebook Platform plays, the variety of companies taking part in the program is impressive. Teams range from one-man-bands to many members, but under the fbFund umbrella we can all act as resources for each other.
Who knows what the summer will hold? There will be engineering help, marketing professionals, and business minds at our disposal. What’s clear is the program is structured with the flexibility to ensure that each team gains the most possible value from being here. The people who put this together are so smart. For us, we are most looking forward to developing our Facebook Connect roadmap and strategy, while continuing to focus on scaling our business of service networking. The West Coast location is exciting for us, and fits in well with our big picture goals. We are absolutely thrilled being here, and this kick-off week has been amazing.