Spicy Chai Latte Made in Belgium, or Startup Life on The Old Continent

Notice the Made In Belgium logo on the left?

We are sitting close together, oddly perched on the high bar stools in the boardroom, when Julie mouths the question “Do you want to blog on Silicon Valley Tales?” Joy rises to my cheeks. I temporarily fade out of the meeting. The tall wooden table we’re sitting around is basking in the bright winter light coming from the windows, where the medieval surroundings of our inner European city office clash hard with the SaaS platform for tablets we’re all working on.

Magical land of technology
I get this warm fuzzy feeling inside, like pride and excitement and wonder all mixed together. I’m proud of all the people around me who are building , I’m so happy to work for a startup, and now I get to contribute to a blog that has Silicon Valley in the title. The magical land of technology, that mythological place where the future is being shaped by clever people with Pixies t-shirts and/or beards…

This place doesn’t actually exist as I imagine it. I’m not even interested in what it’s really like. I believe in the idea of Silicon Valley, in people giving it their best shot to develop technology that has an impact on life. I’ve never even been there, but that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have visited Mekka to understand what it’s about. I’m not even sure I’d want to go, not to break the bubble of wonder – just kidding.

Hormones and football
in my case, this blog is more about surviving the concept of Silicon Valley. Which, believe you me, is potentially more powerful than the real place. As for the part that this blog is written by women, I’ll be short about that. I’m in complete denial about what gender has to do with anything. My life is not that different from that of my beloved, except perhaps for my roller coaster hormone rides and his particular love of football.

Startup life
So, is startup life different in Belgium than it is in the US? I can’t really say, because I only know startup life in the US from reading and hearing about it. I’m sure people don’t really run around drinking spinach smoothies and munching on raw cocoa husks all day. I also don’t think people in Silicon Valley have this unquestionable belief in success all the time. And I’d be surprised if every coffee shop is full of entrepreneurs.

Grumpy Europeans
Now you know the clichés as we get them here. I wonder what the clichés about European startup life are like in he US. Maybe that nobody wants you to succeed here. That we’re a bunch of grumpy skeptics. Or that it’s always raining, and that we eat pork sausages with garlic for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Let me know in the comments.

Chai latte and spinach
If you want to come over and taste European startup life, you might have to be quick though. Because there’s a tin of chai latte, that quintessential ingredient of a good San Francisco workday as far as I can tell from here, sitting on my kitchen shelf, with “made in Belgium” printed on it. We’ll have spinach smoothies next…