Mattan Griffel: San Francisco

What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
As someone working on a startup, I love San Francisco – it’s like a tech Mecca. But I ended up in NYC after graduating from New York University and getting a job at a startup in the city. The only reason I didn’t make the move to SF was that I felt that the startup community in NYC was smaller and had more potential to grow.

When I quit my job to start my first startup in October 2011, I went to SF for a month to learn how to code. That experience really opened my eyes to what I could do with technology.
That experience also inspired the creation of One Month Rails (onemonthrails.com), which quickly became one of the most successful online Ruby on Rails classes ever. Last month I was accepted into Y Combinator to figure out how to get more people to learn how to code. So I moved to the SF about a week ago and I’ll be here until the end of August.


Describe your experience in NYC.
I started working in startups because I studied finance and graduated during the financial crisis, so I wasn’t able to find a job. A friend told me about a startup called appssavvy. When I interviewed there for the role of marketing coordinator, they were all 20-year olds in the heart of SoHo, who sat on beanbag chairs and had a keg in the office on Fridays, and I thought, “I have to work here.”

It’s been amazing to see what’s happened to the startup scene in New York in the last few years since then. What started off as just a handful of companies has turned into almost 1300.
Besides that, I love New York because it’s a hot mess. I lived there for 7 years and every day is distinctly different. It can be hot & muggy one day and cold & rainy the next. There’s always something going on. I’ll definitely move back after Y Combinator is over.

What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to SF?
There wasn’t too much that was challenging about moving from NY to SF. I took over a friend’s lease and most of his furniture. I did have to buy lots of things again – from chairs to toothpaste – which was kind of fun. It’s like starting with a blank slate and getting to decide what’s really important.

The weather is also very different. Moving here almost feels like moving to a paradise.
Then again, like I mentioned before, I feel like a little fish in a big sea of startups. So that’s frightening.

How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
I find that NYC and SF are still surprisingly disconnected. People in NYC don’t know much about what’s really going on in SF, and vice versa. This newsletter certainly helps. Maybe there should be some sort of exchange program.

Favorite SF secret spot
I don’t know of too many secret spots in SF yet, but my favorite place so far has been the Alameda Point Antique Faire. I’m sort of in love with that place. If you go, bring cash, sunscreen, and show up early. My friends woke me up at 6:00am on a Sunday to go and it was well worth it.

Favorite NYC secret spot
One of my favorite NYC secret spots is the abandoned City Hall subway station that you can only see by staying on the 6 line past the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge. There’s a Quora post on New York’s best kept secrets that I sometimes refer to when I want to experience something new.

If you were not at GrowHack, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t doing One Month Rails, I would be finishing my book. I’ve got a 250-page draft of Growth Hacking: Lean Marketing for Startups that I haven’t been able to finish with all of the craziness these last few weeks.

Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
I’ve been watching Arrested Development (Season 4) and House of Cards. I’ve been listening to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Macklemore’s The Heist. In my down time I read the front page of Reddit.

From the 2905 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + SAN FRANCISCO

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