It’s been said that Silicon Valley, consisting of office parks from San Francisco through San Jose, has no “there, there.” MyTesla Tours begs to differ.
(1 of 2)
(2 of 2)
Few things are more iconic to Silicon Valley than a Tesla Model X, unless you’re aboard one while touring the area’s most significant landmarks—Facebook, Apple, Google, Stanford. MyTesla Tours offers one-day excursions to business executives and investors from Latin America, other emerging regions or anyone else looking for an introduction to the area.
Founder Miguel Casillas hails from Mexico, where he taught innovation and business courses at IPADE, a prestigious business school with three campuses, including one in Mexico City. Landing in Silicon Valley in 2006 as a fund-raiser and entrepreneur in the startup world, he quickly became aware of an untapped opportunity.
“I noticed that the Latin American community and Latino community were not well-represented in the innovative ecosystem of Silicon Valley,” says Casillas. Thus, his Silicon Valley Links (svlinks.org), which connects C-suite executives and investors from Mexico with incubator and accelerator programs in Silicon Valley while teaching them how to navigate the area’s business culture, was born. (SV Links has since attracted nearly 2,000 people from 21 countries, who, according to the organization, have invested more than $60 million in new ventures since its 2009 launch.)
MyTesla Tours became a natural offshoot of SV Links, which shares its fleet of four Teslas (two Model Xs, one Model S and one Model 3) with the touring company. When visitors don’t have time to commit to SV Links’ weeklong programs, which run $4,000 to $6,000, they can now opt for a luxury lay of the land at $700 to $1,000 a day (with lunch at Santana Row included). “The experience as a whole was completely enjoyable,” says Santiago Campos Cervera of Koga, an incubator based in Paraguay. “Every aspect of the tour was designed and facilitated by the SV Links team, even the conversation in the car.”
Local students and entrepreneurs are hired to guide the customized tours, which stop at places like HP Garage (Hewlett Packard), Apple Vistor Center, Intel Museum, Googleplex and, of course, Tesla Headquarters. “There are not a lot of Teslas in Latin America,” says Casillas, “so when our clients get into one, it’s like, ‘Wow, this is cool.’ The car pretty much represents the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley. It’s like Silicon Valley in a car.”
Originally published in the March issue of Silicon Valley