The story: from prototype to acquisition by GoDaddy in 10 months

I came to Silicon Valley with my co-founder just 10 months ago with a prototype and a goal to succeed. In this short timeframe, we’ve been rejected in an Y Combinator interview, then raised from angels and venture capitalists after 6 months of trying and launched the product.

We got acquired in month 10.

This is what we learned:

1. Consider joining an accelerator

Consider joining an accelerator, such as Blackbox*, which is specially tailored towards foreigners. It can provide a much softer landing. But when the program of any accelerator ends, don’t leave, you must stay in Silicon Valley, or return back as soon as possible. Nothing can be done in a few weeks.

2. Being a foreigner might be a feature, not a bug

The important fact to realize is that being a foreigner with no connections can be a benefit, not a disadvantage.

Many, or close to half of the successful software companies were started by immigrants. The desire to succeed is larger when you go to a different country and spend all your savings, because a failure is not an option (or much more more disastrous). And that higher desire can be a key to succeed.

In fact one of our investors told us that he likes to invest in immigrants just for this reason. So make it your argument why you’ll succeed.

3. Be open and coachable

You should really get out of your comfort zone and start asking strangers.

When in a new environment, one needs to build a network and trust. Especially in Silicon Valley, where most business is made based on reputability. Expose yourself, meet people, send hundreds of cold contact e-mails, go to all possible meet-ups and parties. Keep asking questions, keep collecting feedback and learn non-stop.

4. Pretending you’re fine and you know enough is the ultimate disaster

Be humble and truthful. Nobody likes assholes or strong attitudes.

Americans are especially more sensible and just generally much better in social interaction. Learn their way of interaction immediately, be positive and always humble when building your network.

If you’re fucked and you have no money, admit and tell you’re fucked and you need help. It’s much more likely that people will help you if you’re honest and can admit a failure.

5. STAY in Silicon Valley

3 weeks in Silicon Valley is not enough, and 3 months is not enough either.

This is your new home, building a network takes a long time and a lot of effort. If your visa expires, fly away and find a way how to keep coming back.

If you need advice on visa and immigration, ask other founders who’ve gone through the immigration process, it’s simpler than it might initially look like. Don’t let the immigration issue overcome you, it is solvable, there are much bigger problems to solve when trying to succeed anyway.

6. Be prepared to fail with your idea and prototype

Be prepared to change it. You might not like the feedback you will hear, but note it down and make new decisions.

7. After a while, things start moving

People will be naturally introducing you to investors if they like you and your product. And with investors, you will obtain advice and a get access to a completely new network.

After reaching 7, you’re already as good (actually better!) as a local-born entrepreneur and have a clearer road ahead. Investors will help connecting you and mentor you from there.

(ed.: Blackbox’ Julia K Szopa is a contributor at Whiteboard, but Whiteboard is not affiliated in any way with Blackbox.)

[Photo: Marcin Whichary, Flickr]

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About the author

Dominik Balogh

Dominik is the co-founder and CEO of, a company which he started in the summer of 2012 after moving from Slovakia to Silicon Valley. was recently acquired by GoDaddy after 10 months. You can follow Dominik on Twitter.

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