D-Code Bootcamp Silicon Valley - City Hall, Nathan Gold and Torsten Kolind

By Yihang Ho

The 3rd of December started with a morning walk with the other D-Coders and John to the City Hall to attend a conference specially prepared for us by the Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation (MOCI). The City Hall is the architectural pride of the City of San Francisco - it consists of a dome that is bigger than the Capitol and decorated with gold. We were given a short tour around the City Hall by one of the members of MOCI.

The conference held by MOCI was mainly about the city government's effort in encouraging and helping innovation in the city. One of the policies that really impressed me was the Open Data initiative. Under this initiative, all agencies, departments and offices of the city government are required by city legislation to publish and release all data that they have. This data is starting to be published in http://data.sfgov.org. Also, their Open Law initiative is very interesting. Under this initiative, the city government published all the state laws online on GitHub, allowing the citizens and residents to refer and monitor the changes that happened to all the state legislation. The city government has also set up what is now called Living Innovation Zones (LIZ). Innovators are now able to use public spaces designated as LIZ to test out their ideas. The very first LIZ was along Market Street and it has attracted tonnes of tourists, effectively transformed a boring sidewalk into an exciting spot to visit.

The conference struck me so deeply because an entity as small as a city government is willing and able to transform itself from a "traditional" government to an open government. Also, its willingness to embrace technology, like the use of GitHub, is really impressive.

The following activities of the day happened in the office of YouNoodle. After enjoying the delicious sourdough pizza, we met Nathan Gold, a very successful coach in helping others crafting an effective pitch and presentation. Nathan gave us some very valuable advice, like S2AME and story matrix. At the end of the workshop, each team was given the opportunity to pitch in front of other D-Coders and Noodlers with Nathan leading the pack brainstorming ways to improve each pitch.

Finally, the CEO and co-founder of YouNoodle, Torsten Kolind gave us an introduction on how the startup ecosystem in San Francisco works, and his story of beginning with a startup in Denmark to founding YouNoodle with Rebecca Hwang. Torsten demystified and explained some of the startup terminologies like angel, venture capital and ramen profitability. In my opinion, the most important advice that Torsten gave was to offer help before asking for help.