Fancy VIS­IT­ING a breed­ing ground for UNI­CORNS? Visit CAL­I­FOR­NIA – and take your START-UP to the NEXT level.


Col­lec­tive Hub founder, Lisa Mes­sen­ger, re­cently hit San Fran­cisco and shares all her fave haunts and go-tos

As an en­tre­pre­neur, it’s ex­tra­or­di­nary that, un­til re­cently, one of the places that I’d not yet vis­ited in all of my glo­be­trot­ting was San Fran­cisco. And hav­ing re­cently re­turned, I can’t imag­ine for the life of me just why it took so long. In 2017, at a piv­otal time for Col­lec­tive Hub (see my Ed’s let­ter!) I flew to Sil­i­con Val­ley to at­tend the Dream­force con­fer­ence, a global gath­er­ing of trail­blaz­ers held by Sales­force, on a work­ing hol­i­day (thanks Air New Zealand and Visit Cal­i­for­nia!).

For the long­est time peo­ple have asked me, ‘Would you move state­side?’ and my an­swer has al­ways been no. But San Fran­cisco had a dif­fer­ent ef­fect on my part­ner and I while we were there. On day three we looked at each other and said, “We could def­i­nitely live here…”

The en­ergy was elec­tric – prob­a­bly height­ened by the Dream­force con­fer­ence (guests like Michelle Obama and Ash­ton Kutcher will do that!). Every­where we went there were con­ver­sa­tions buzzing around in­no­va­tion and dis­rup­tion. But there’s far more to the sur­round­ing area than Google’s shiny head­quar­ters. Here were my fave haunts and top picks:


A legacy in sus­tain­able tourism, Sonoma wine coun­try was one of the high­lights of my trip (even as a non-drinker!). It has more than 425 winer­ies, miles of rugged coast­line, and na­tional parks. We stayed at the Farm­house Inn, an in­cred­i­ble lo­ca­tion cre­ated by si­b­lings and fifth-gen­er­a­tion lo­cals Joe and Cather­ine Bar­tolomei.

In need of an in­spir­ing place to work? I took my lap­top to Shed in Healds­burg, a unique mar­ket, café and com­mu­nity gath­er­ing space on a farm, de­signed to bring us closer to the way we grow, pre­pare and share food.

Need bizspi­ra­tion? In 2018, Gund­lach Bund­schu, Cal­i­for­nia’s old­est fam­i­ly­owned and op­er­ated win­ery, cel­e­brates its 160th year of busi­ness. Dur­ing our visit, more than 7000 build­ings in Cal­i­for­nia had been af­fected by wild­fires, but the lo­cals’ hope and op­ti­mism was in­cred­i­ble. Visit sono­maval­ for more info.


There are sto­ries of founders meet­ing their fu­ture in­vestors in the chang­ing rooms of SoulCy­cle. While I’m not able to guar­an­tee a chance en­counter, from my first class I was com­pletely hooked on the un­be­liev­able fit­ness fix. With nine lo­ca­tions around North­ern Cal­i­for­nia alone, in­clud­ing Palo Alto, ev­ery­thing about their stu­dios is in­spir­ing, from the dé­cor to the in­struc­tors and par­tic­i­pants.

Last year at SoulCy­cle in San Ma­teo, fe­male Sil­i­con Val­ley-based founders and work­ers took part in a spe­cial class to bring aware­ness to gen­der in­equal­ity and sex­ual ha­rass­ment. Put to­gether by ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tim Draper, the women wore su­per­hero cos­tumes as they spun.

Want per­sonal coach­ing? Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal chat­ter, San Fran­cisco’s hottest fit­ness gu­rus are Pol­ish cou­ple Jerzy and Aniela Gre­gorek – world-record-hold­ing weightlifters whose clients in­clude an­gel in­vestor Naval Ravikant, Adobe ex­ec­u­tive Tay­lor Barada, and author Tim Fer­riss (dis­claimer: they’re not easy to bag an ap­point­ment with).

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