Becoming a Founder

The Founders’ Guide to San Francisco

Get the most out of San Francisco while building your business and networking with other local founders.

Blog Author - Sasha Butkovich
Sasha Butkovich
Jun 26, 20245 minutes
Blog Author - Sasha Butkovich
Sasha Butkovich

Sasha Butkovich is a freelance writer at Justworks, and was previously the Content & Editorial Manager at Justworks. With a background in B2B content marketing, Sasha specializes in bringing brands to life through content and storytelling.

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The Founder's Guide to San Francisco - Image

As a founder in San Francisco, you're likely always on the go. There's no other city quite like it when it comes to the energy and culture around founders, startups, and new businesses. But when you're a busy founder working on a business plan, building a product, and raising funding, you sometimes need a little help finding the things you need. 

In the spirit of optimizing your time and outsourcing tasks, we've rounded up a quick guide to San Francisco to help founders tick some of the essential boxes. Explore our suggestions below.

A quick note: Much like the tech industry that dominates the city, San Francisco is always evolving. With this in mind, you may find that some of these resources might disappear like the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog. When possible, check with the business or location to confirm whether they're still available. 

Best Places to Network (That Aren’t Boring/Ticketed Mixers)

San Francisco is a networker's paradise. With so many startups and VCs in the Bay Area, there's an event nearly every day of the week. Since the landscape is so varied, it can be helpful to explore different sites to find the best networking events for you based on your industry or your goals. Whether you're trying to find funding, looking for a co-founder, or just aiming to connect with fellow entrepreneurs, here are a few ideas for where to start.

  • It might be obvious, but it's a classic for a reason: LinkedIn should be one of your go-to ways to find networking events in San Francisco. Join LinkedIn groups like Founders Network, Bay Area Founders Club, or Founders Village, which often host events and webinars or share info about other local networking opportunities.

  • Explore Meetup for a variety of networking events and activities for founders — you can find everything from online networking events to in-person brunches to founders running clubs. 

  • Founders You Should Know is an event series that showcases startup founders and connects them with talent, particularly in engineering (they require an application to attend).

Best Cheap Spots for Eating on a Pre-Seed Budget 

When you're running from meeting to meeting in SoMa all day, you need to stay fueled up. If you'd rather invest your cash in your growing business than spend it on a pricey meal, here are just a few options for food that won't blow your budget.

  • Coffee: If you're in SoMa, odds are you're within a few blocks of a Blue Bottle Coffee location — always a solid option for when you want a pastry with your caffeine fix. Stop by the Equator Coffee in the lobby of 222 2nd St., which has plenty of room to sit and relax, or even take a call if you need to. For something unique, visit Delah Coffee for Yemeni-style coffee with cardamom and ginger. They also have free wifi and are open late, so keep it in mind when you're having one of those days.

  • Lunch: Garaje has a menu you won't get bored by, featuring a wide variety of burgers, sandwiches, and tacos. If you're a chicken sandwich fan, you need to go to The Bird. Head to ​​Tú Lan for cheap and tasty Vietnamese options like phở and imperial rolls. Sometimes you just need a big sandwich, and for that, you should try AK Subs or Deli Board (a slightly pricier option).

  • Later: When that pizza craving hits, Montesacro has you covered with oval-shaped Roman-style pies. Try Azúcar Lounge for Mexican — this is really more of an all-day place, since they also offer brunch options like breakfast tacos.

Places to Take a Call When You're on The Go

So you don't have an office yet. No problem! There are plenty of great places you can take phone or Zoom calls when you're out and about in San Francisco. From coworking spaces to green spaces to cafes, there's something for everyone.

  • The Capital One Café near Union Square is tailor-made for the office-less worker. It has free wifi, plenty of workspaces and power outlets, and (crucially) coffee. Plus, it's open to everyone, not just Capital One customers.

  • If you like to take your calls in the fresh air, Salesforce Park is a great place to grab a bench (though you may want to steer clear of the playground area to cut down on background noise).

  • They come with a fee, but coworking spaces are also a great option. WeWork is the classic choice, and there are several locations in the city where you can book space to take your calls (On Demand day passes start at $29). There are plenty of other coworking spots in San Francisco at a variety of price points — explore which coworking spaces might be the best fit for you.

Happy Hours with Actual Deals 

At the end of the day, it's always a good idea to have a couple go-to happy hour places in your back pocket. They can be great for a casual meeting, with the added bonus of being budget-conscious. They can also come in handy when you need to wind down with friends — you can (and should) maintain a social life, too! 

  • Check out Eater's guide to the best happy hours in San Francisco. A SoMa highlight for the post-work crowd: The Harlequin's classic happy hour menu with $2 oysters, $8 wines, and $11 cocktails. 

  • The Infatuation has you covered with even more happy hour suggestions. Peruvian spot La Mar on the Embarcadero is tough to beat with $10-11 cocktails, $5 empanadas, and bay views from the patio. 

  • The San Francisco Standard's happy hour guide is a great resource. If you're looking for a happy hour with filling food, creative cocktails, or best brews, they've got the perfect spot.

Free/Cheap Ways to Relax on Your One Day Off 

Not only is San Francisco a great city to build and grow a company, it's also a great place to be on your days off (even if they are few and far between). There's so much to do, from world-class parks and museums, to countless cultural events, to easy day trips. Here are a few ideas to help  you play as hard as you work.

  • You may know this already, but here's a reminder anyway: the city's parks are some of the best places to relax and unwind, period. You can keep it low-key and bring a picnic blanket and a spikeball set to the Presidio. If you want to up the activity level, head to Golden Gate Park's disc golf course or the Skatin' Place (which becomes a roller disco on Sunday afternoons). Or, if you're ready to tackle something more challenging, check out the trails and hikes at hillier parks like Twin Peaks, Lands End, or Mt. Davidson.

  • Walking tours can be a relaxing way to get outside and explore a new neighborhood. San Francisco City Guides offers several walking tours every day at various locations, and there's something for everyone. They're free, but donations are strongly encouraged. 

  • If you like your days off to feel a little more epic, you'll probably love the Crosstown Trail. This nearly 17-mile route starts at Candlestick Point and leads all the way to Lands End, so it's a great way to get to know the city. Choose your own adventure: you can hike it or bike it, start early and finish the whole thing in a day, or pick a shorter section to explore.

  • Many of the city's museums and attractions offer free admission on certain days of the month. If your days off line up, why not take advantage and soak up some culture? You can find free museum days for spots like the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Zoo, the Bay Area Discovery Museum, and more. 

  • If it's baseball season, there's no better downtime activity than going to a Giants game. While this isn't a free option, depending on the game, it's possible to get cheap tickets to join the excitement at Oracle Park.

  • What's more relaxing than a boat ride on the bay? The ferry is a convenient and fun way to explore the Bay Area, and tickets are typically less than $10 when you pay with your Clipper card. There are great day trips to be had at spots like Alameda, Sausalito, Angel Island, or Larkspur, so check that ferry schedule and start planning.

  • Bookmark event calendars like SFFunCheap, San Francisco Recreation & Parks, and San Francisco Parks Alliance to check on the latest updates for free and cheap events like outdoor movies, live performances, and more.

We hope some of these suggestions help you to discover more about San Francisco, make connections, and grow your new business. For even more resources for founders, explore our Becoming a Founder content, the MWBE Resources page, and the For Founders, By Founders experience. And if you're ready to bring on a solution that will help you run your business with confidence, get started with Justworks today!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Sasha Butkovich
Sasha Butkovich
Jun 26, 20245 minutes

Sasha Butkovich is a freelance writer at Justworks, and was previously the Content & Editorial Manager at Justworks. With a background in B2B content marketing, Sasha specializes in bringing brands to life through content and storytelling.

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