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How to break into Silicon Valley as a foreigner – TechCrunch

Domm Holland, co-founder and CEO of e-commerce start-up Fast, seems to be living a founder’s dream.

His big idea came from a little moment in his real life. Holland watched his wife’s grandmother try to order groceries, but she forgot her password and couldn’t complete the transaction.

“I just remember thinking it was absurd,” Holland said. “It challenged the belief that an arbitrary text string was a barrier to trade.”

So he built a prototype passwordless authentication system in which users would fill in their information once and never need to do it again. In 24 hours, tens of thousands of people used it.

Nothing beats building human networks. This is how you are going to achieve it in terms of fundraising.

Buyers weren’t the only ones with this idea. In less than two years, Holland has raised $ 124 million in three rounds of fundraising, using partners like Index Ventures and Stripe.

While the success of Fast’s one-click payment product has been rapid, it has not been effortless.

For one thing, Holland is Australian, which means it started out as a Silicon Valley outsider. When he arrived in the United States in the summer of 2019, he had exactly one Bay Area contact on his phone. He built his network from scratch, a strategic process that he attributes to one thing: hard work.

In an episode of the “How I Raised It” podcast, Holland discusses how he built his network, why it’s important – not just for fundraising, but for building the whole business – and how to avoid the mistakes he makes. he sees new founders doing it.

Reach out with relevance

Holland’s main strategy for networking seems obvious: reaching out to those affected.

“When I first came to the US I wanted to network,” said Holland, “but I didn’t really know anyone here in the Bay Area. So I spent a lot of time reaching out to the right people – people working in payments, people working in tech, people working in identity authentication – just really relevant people in the space working in. Big Tech who were building large-scale networks. “

One of the people Holland connected with was Allison Barr Allen, then head of global product operations at Uber. Barr Allen ran his own angel investment fund, but Holland wasn’t really looking for money when he contacted her. He was much more interested in his prospect as the head of a huge financial services operation.

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