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Part 1 – Emerging trend: Check

We were looking for an emerging trend in the food field. As we stopped by for a coffee break at a cafe with a wifi connection, there we discovered it seems to became a trend to order your coffee and your cookie online and then just pass by to take it. Bags with the orders were ready in a shelf, waiting for the customer who ordered it. It was a little bit like in a library.

Posters and ads across the city – especially in the bart stations – are attracting customers to order meals and food online. So it is a service to avoid queuing when you are in a hurry. Orders can easily be made while commuting to the working place and picked up just at the right time.

There is a high chance that this model will also be adapted in Switzerland soon: the technical devices needed are all there (everyone has his smartphone), restaurants, cafés and take aways have just to set in place a tight workflow to handle the orderings and to create a place where food is placed to be picked up – with a certain control that the right person is picking up the right thing – and that food is paid in advance when placing the order.

Finally: everybody hates queuing, so if there is a way to avoid it, we should propose this service to the clients.


Part 2 – Try different food: Check

Floating Boat Restaurant

As we are close to Chinatown, we decided to discover this district and the typical atmosphere. We spend time in the shops where we found typical Chinese stuff. It amazing to see how you can switch from San Francisco to a China city within a few second, only by crossing a road. It is like a county in the country.

It was lunch time ! We found a typical Chinese restaurant with plenty different menu. Finally we go for the day menu that was composed of a curry and rice bowl with a famous miso soup, which was by the way excellent. Even for the drink we tried something new, a lychee lemonade with strange bowl on in, which seems to be called buba guy (we are still not sure what it really was).

It’s now time to continue the challenge. We had a very nice lunch break all three together.


Part 3 – How is work life in SFO: Check

School Bus Driver

Working in San Francisco doesn’t mean to live in San Francisco. Like Filipe who is working in a Hilton Hotel as a Laundry worker. For the rents are way too expensive, he is making a one-hour trip to go to work. That is quite a common thing. Keisha, a school bus driver, can’t afford a place to live downtown. She told us though, that her work allowed her to spend time with her little boy Douglas. Long trip, time consuming, might be the price to be paid. Entering in a FedEx office, we got to meet Kevin. This young boy is one of the exception. For a 9 on 9 feet room he spend 900$ a month. These three people work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day.

As Swiss people, how much can we relate to them? Do we drive that much to save money and tend to « survive »? Or do we make such distances only for good money?


Part 4 – Swissness in the USA: Check

On that part we tried to understand how swissness is perceive in the USA and especially in California. Chocolate, watches and swiss army knife are the most common word people think when we ask them what swiss product they know. Swiss products are mainly perceive as high quality product which last long but the consequence is that the products are expensive or at least are perceive as such.

When we talk about innovation, swiss made is not what comes out of the discussions. Switzerland in perceive as a traditional country with hand made and quality manufacturing but not as an innovating country.

If we sum up, swiss products are high quality, made with precision and will last longer than products, which are common in the USA.

People are proud to have and show off that they have Swiss product…


Part 5 – Find innovative entrepreneur: Check

« Find entrepreneurs and ask them what innovation is in their perception ». What an easy task. How come can we even guess who can they be? Especially in a city like San Francisco where the following statement rules:  » do not trust appearances. « . We should not only look for people wearing a suit and drinking their starbucks coffee. Therefore, we decided to call them, hopping one would answer.  A Cardboard a pen and here is a tool to look for them « Innovative Entrepreneurs? » talk to us! The first lady that stopped by, got curious on our way of doing. We chatted for a little, but her lunch break was getting to an end. Have  a look at the video: Find innovative entrepreneurs.

Terris, but call him « little » even though he is very tall, was the second person we talked to. He was an entrepreneur, back in days. He opened a place to eat chicken and fries. That man for sure loves Chicken by the way. After a few words on his life he summarized entrepreneurship as trying and falling, and trying and falling…

We asked him how he perceives innovation. « Innovation is change.  » He gives us the example of a smartphone, where he got to change his whole way of doing thing to gain a new habit. There we thought that the same example is definitely the one that explains disruptive innovation all around the world. After some good talk (and good laugh) with Small (yes we got quite intimate after a few minutes), we continue our way.

When suddenly, out of nowhere, those three Spanish guys jump in front of Christian. « You look for entrepreneurs? » Those three guys studying aboard for a month told us about their company. They got to create a platform to help student relate to each others. Check out their website: igloobilbao.com.

Woman, men, students, young or less young, everyone can be an innovative entrepreneur: you just should need to be passionated.


Part 6 – Discover the Coworking spaces: Check

Coworking space at sandboxsuites

Coworking spaces: The first we wanted to visit we could not find. We were at the correct address, but no indication showed us the existence, even the doorman knew anything about. It seems to have been a trend to open up coworking spaces and not all of them succeeded. Fortunately later we had a very warm welcome at Sandbox Coworking at 567 Sutter Street. Have a look at the sandbox suites website: www.sandboxsuites.com

If you are once looking for a coworking space in San Francisco – or else where – check out this: wiki.coworking.org


Part 7 – Historical side of the city: Check

Palace of fine arts

Taking bus N° 30 to Johnson Loop took us to the Palace of fine Arts, a beautiful sight with a neo classical pantheon and a small lake. We definitely found there a place to relax. Also residents who live next to this place benefit from the calm this place emits.

The small lake is called «lagoon» and was once part of a slough on a tidal wetland which was on the north side of the land where San Francisco is standing on. Salt water from the Bay and freshwater from a spring were daily mixing up in this area.

For the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the slough became an inland lake, and should originally be filled up – but fortunately the architect of the Palace (Bernard Maybeck) prevented it from being filled. So today you can hardly imagine, why this lake should disappear: many different birds are living, so it became also a «green» spots of San Francisco with an unique urban ecosystem. This fits well into one of the images San Francisco wishes to have: being «alternatively green».