The streets of San Francisco are paved in code

In November the Dublin City University 2nd year Executive MBA participants took a break from the formalities of lectures and assignments and embarked on a week-long study trip to visit global corporations and innovative start ups in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco city area. A key highlight of the Executive MBA progamme.

On the first day we launched our busy schedule at Rocketspace – a hot house for cultivating entrepreneurs. This was a place where you plant your seed capital, solve problems through teamwork, trust and collaboration.

Next up was Cloudfare – radically frugal – two million customers – 5% of all internet traffic use their product. Business valued at $5 billion! When asked about “opportunity” the CEO suggested if you’re offered a seat on a rocket, you don’t refuse and you don’t ask where you’re sitting and what’s the view like! He also suggested that “boredom is where bad things happen!”. When probed about some of the characteristics of entrepreneurship he mentioned left handed, being a bit of an outsider and a maybe a non-believer and you may be half way there! He also mentioned empathy – it’s vital!

Salesforce spoke about “speed is the currency of business and everything is connected” and remember “growth solves all problems!”

Next up, an Irish man, spoke of his company and product “Coin”. He wants to take a leap in technology with a single card like device that will store all your credit cards – the itunes for charge cards. An incredible idea that attracted us all.

An Innovator at Oracle summed it up “Failure is a gift – opportunity is everywhere – the challenge is finding it”.

Johnson & Johnson aiming to get some of this innovation, have four innovation centres worldwide to bring in external innovation and possibly new products to Johnson & Johnson.

At WePay a typical entrepreneur suggested that having significant venture capital probably makes success easier. His story illustrated just how much time, effort and personal sacrifice is required to be an entrepreneur- to take an idea and give it wings! His closing advice was “be stubborn to give things enough time but not too much stubbornness”.

Then off to visit the infamous Google HQ to discuss Google’s Marketing approach.

A visit to Stanford University and a talk by Dr. Burton Lee, Lecturer on European Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford School of Engineering compared the state of innovation in Europe & Ireland vs USA which highlighted some challenges but also planted seeds for thought and possibly opportunity.

In case you’re thinking it was all work and no play we took some time out to explore some of cultural components of San Francisco; Nappa Valley, Alcatraz and shopping!

I think I can state that our Executive MBA group felt enlightened and inspired by this experience, the businesses we visited, the people we met, their welcome and most notably their attitude to challenge, explore and resolve problems. Nothing is impossible here. One notable thing about all the start-ups – no fancy offices, no fancy canteen but we all left wanting to work in places like these. The energy and enthusiasm was contagious. San Francisco is fab and if you happen to come up with a Eureka! idea and bring it over there don’t forget to bring it back home.

The trip facilitated a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about each other, their views and opinions and strengthen relationships that I have no doubt will extend the term of the MBA programme.

A big thanks to Cathal Daly, 2nd Year DCU Executive MBA Participant, who wrote this post. 

If you would like more information about the DCU Executive MBA, please contact


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