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Aussies Of The Bay – Matt Holden

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Matt Holden, Founder, Black Opal, Sea Cliff

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

We arrived in 2013 when I brought my startup www.MavSocial.com from Australia. MavSocial is a social media marketing platform and we worked with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so San Francisco was the natural choice for us. I sold MavSocial last year and now have a new startup that is focussing on Chatbot Marketing Platform

Hardest thing about moving here?

The most obvious is leaving family and friends behind but having said that there is not a lot of joy that I see in Sydney given the high cost of living there.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

I got some great seats to AT&T Park and watched the Giants baseball. First time was great but then you realize baseball needs a ‘Big Bash’ moment to speed it up.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

My posting before San Francisco was Singapore and you’ll find many Australian expats who are always well regarded. Australians are always well regarded in the United States and Americans still love our Aussie accent!

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

I was at a Social Media conference in San Diego and Candace Payne was interviewed. She is the Texan who became ‘Chewbacca Mom’ and racked up 170 million Facebook views with her viral video and since then has built a multimillion-dollar business – as they say “only in America”

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Given the strong economy, I urge others to come to America now. The time is right and opportunity abounds. I do caution that if you have school-age kids life is tricky and expensive given schooling and housing.

Anything else?

I’m now advising lots of startups as a mentor. For technology companies getting that investment is critical and there are many Australian founders moving here so I really enjoy hearing pitches from them and how I can help.

 

Aussies of The Bay – Gareth Pan

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Gareth Pan, living in San Francisco, Sales Operations/Strategy at LinkedIn,

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

I first landed in Feb 24, 2016 after doing a table-flip of sorts, where I severed my lease, quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to SF. After realising that I actually needed a return ticket to enter the country (thanks US Customs!), I spent the next 11 weeks looking for work. I stayed on a mate’s couch for a while before moving to the cheapest single-room Airbnb I could find – it was about 9′ x 9′ and in the middle of Chinatown, but hey rent was expensive and the US dollar was sky-high, so it worked for me!

After getting an offer at LinkedIn in May, I went back to Sydney to sort out visas, say goodbye to friends & family and returned to SF in June 2016, where I have been since.

Hardest thing about moving here?

I have a 16 yo cat (his name is Theodore, but we call him Teddy!) that I had to leave behind with my mother. Was devastating for me but the bastard is probably ecstatic – after 16 years, I’m still not convinced he actually liked me. Aside from that, the usual conversion difficulties – celsius to fahrenheit, km’s to miles, kg’s to pounds etc.

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

I remember about 2 hours after I landed in SF, I needed to buy a towel and some bed sheets. I was stressing about how and where I’d get all that stuff from until my friend pulled out his phone and was like “watch this!” and tapped a few buttons. 2 hours later everything arrived at our door. I’d later learn that it was Amazon Prime Now and it was ridiculous and embodied everything that makes the Bay Area what it is.

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

Being Australian here is great and I completely agree with everyone else’s comments – it’s so much easier to start a conversation with anyone by virtue of the accent alone! At work, even 2 years on I still get the joke “I wonder if you’d still have a job if you didn’t sound like that”.

Dating here has been… interesting. I definitely think all’s well that ends well though as I’ve since found an amazing local girl (shout out to Linda!). Looking back, I feel the interesting dating dynamic here goes back to the fact that a lot of Bay Area residents are transplants from all across the world and thus dating seems a little more transient.

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

Fantasy Football. I’d describe it like an office Melbourne Cup sweepstakes, but every week for 16 weeks. The amount of office banter that goes on during football season is out of control – the winner gets some money and a year’s worth of boasting + the loser has to carry a wooden spoon around the office for a month, which is priceless.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Absolutely do it, I promise you will not regret it. If you’re gonna look for work whilst you’re here (i.e. not coming over with an employer), make sure you have your story buttoned up. Most employers here don’t know anything about your uni, your background, any Australian companies or the E3 Visa. Think introspectively and craft a coherent story on exactly why you came here with 2 suitcases and a dream. 🙂

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m actually going full ‘Murican and going to NYC to do an MBA this fall, so @Christian if you know a G’Day NY equivalent newsletter – hook me up because G’Day SF is an amazing resource!

[Editor note: http://americajosh.com/ does a good newsletter out of NYC]

 

Aussies of the Bay – Ankit Talwar

Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in

Ankit Talwar, Senior Accountant, Living in Mission Bay, San Francisco. Founder of discwallets.com

When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?

First came to the Bay in Feb 2017, one year anniversary coming up this week! Working and living in San Francisco, USA has always been a dream of mine after university, after many years in Australia and spending last 7 years working and venturing across UK/Europe, my timing for the next challenge was perfect, I took the plunge and came over to the West Coast with dreams of learnings and greater successes.

Hardest thing about moving here?

The hardest thing about moving to SF has been finding a role and getting the E3 visa processed in time. Roles were ample when I arrived, explaining the E3 visa to employers was like pitching to a VC (it worked!) [Note by Chris, this infographic may help]

Favorite Bay Area memory to date?

My favourite bay area moment is actually everytime someone comes and visits me so I can explore the whole city with them, best moments are looking at the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach and the trail hike in Presideo (trust me it is magical).

What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?

Being an Australian is the best conversation starter I have ever non-intentionally experienced. Introductions are as easy as 1-2-3 being an aussie here.

The dating scene has being interesting to say the least, tried the app route with good success in meeting great people but feels more disconnected rather than simply meeting someone in person (watch Hang The DJ – Black Mirror episode and that is pretty much the SF dating scene here).

At work as an Australian I always have great banter with my co-workers, talks about travels, beers, life of living in Australia comes up every week.

Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?

The most American thing I have experienced is going to sports bars in SF, the passionate fans, the clothing (shoe collection is apparently a big thing) and chatters about stats make me feel like I am truly in USA.

Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?

Best advice for anyone coming to SF is to come here with a purpose and an open mind of experiencing new cultures, new eateries, new exploring opportunities and bring the hustle of working in startups.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I leave this interview with a final note: Live, Learn, Explore, Remember You Only Have One Life To Make It Happen. So Don’t Wait.