August 29, 2012
The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
Tech Cocktail asked: “Why is your city a startup’s paradise?” Their answers are below.
1. Startup in the New Sin City
The era of sin is over.
Las Vegas is now focused on startups, sustainability, spirituality, and social change. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has played a tremendous role in downtown Las Vegas’s startup culture, pledging $350 million of his own money to fund downtown businesses.
Las Vegas’s real startup success is just as important its Jellies – discipline-specific coworking sessions for entrepreneurs and community leaders in such areas as tech, food, green living, and health and wellness. These are launching successful businesses and community projects such as The Reset Project, Build a Greener Block, and Las Vegas’s own Startup Weekend.
Finally, with our generous tax structure, we are not only growing our own startups, but also seeing startups from across the country relocate here.
2. Music City Is An Entrepreneurial Hub
Nashville may be a bit new to the startup game, but it’s growing quickly. Having been known for primarily launching music or health care companies, it’s now growing tech companies, consumer products, and entertainment ideas.
Kudos go to organizations like Nashville’s new Entrepreneur Center, working hard under the leadership of Michael Burcham to provide incubation, knowledge, and pathways to funding for people with a great idea. Chapters like the local Social Enterprise Alliance are also helping to network and support entrepreneurs with a desire to make a profit while making a difference.
Top-notch schools like Vanderbilt and Belmont pump young talent into the local economy. Belmont offers a major in entrepreneurship too. Wonderful climate and affordable living are icing on the cake!
3. The City of Angels Flies
Los Angeles may be known for being one of the biggest entertainment hubs in the world, but it is also beginning to attract startups for a couple of reasons.
There are more colleges and universities in Los Angeles than almost any other city in the US, making it easy to find people to test your product and provide feedback when you’re just starting out. There are other startups in the LA area, but not so many that weekday parties and competition down the street becomes distracting and a constant fear. It’s good to be a little bit secluded, but still connect with others in the area. So your team needs a break or just a change of scenery? You can easily drive twenty minutes to the beach and start a quick game of frisbee or set up a beach work station!
4. Don’t Count Chicago Out
Aside from the incredibly friendly and supportive culture of the Midwest, Chicago is a paradise for B2B startups because we have the largest concentration of the Fortune 500 companies in the US.
When you start to add in that the cost of living, salaries, and office space are 40-60 percent less than the coasts, it means that startups here only need to raise a fraction of the venture capital needed elsewhere. In addition, it makes the viability of bootstrapping much more realistic. Finally, with nearly 9.5 million people, the talent pool is enormous, especially for sales and marketing talent.
5. NYC Will Never Sleep
I’m so proud that Poshly.com is headquartered in New York City.
First, our industry – beauty – is primarily based here; it makes meetings very easy when the industry you are serving is in your locale. Second, New York City has incredible diversity in looks and ideas – that means that inspiration abounds. Third, the pace of New York City appeals to the entrepreneur lifestyle. You’re never the only night owl in this town – this is the city of dreamers and over-achievers!
6. Take to Tel Aviv
Israel is known as the Startup Nation around the world, and Tel Aviv is proof of that.
There are entrepreneurs working on startups in every corner of the city. Having a huge, vibrant community makes it an amazing place. There are dozens of startup events per week. Everyone wants to network and help each other out. Almost every entrepreneur in Israel has gone through required military service, making these people very responsible, quick thinking, and overall brilliant founders.
7. Don’t Forget DC!
DC is a great place for startups!
We have as much diversity that rivals any other city in America, which allows a free flow of ideas to be passed around. Being the most powerful city in the world, we’re still small enough that you won’t get lost in the crowd. Making connections is fairly easy. Everyone knows everyone around here! DC has become the hub of the East Coast. So many people travel through and stop in DC that it has become the meeting place for entrepreneurs all over the world.
8. Columbia Spotlights Middle America
What’s so special about Columbia? Hopefully, you’ve heard of the Mizzou Tigers, but this isn’t just a college town.
Columbia is fostering fantastic entrepreneurial ventures with qualified advisers, investors, affordable (sometimes free) co-working space, incubators, and inspiring events like Startup Weekend, TEDxMU and True/False. Book’d is here because it’s so much easier to build and test in this market, given the low cost of operation, lack of ego and community support. The culture is a mix of Midwest values and collegiate lifestyle (“Cocktails and Dodgeball” just last week!), but with the intelligence and drive to create actual value in what we’re building. We’re not playing around – AdVentures was #28 on the 2011 INC 500, Zapier is now YC ombinator-backed, and more is building.
9. Boulder Breeds Founders
If you’re looking for startup paradise, look no further. Boulder definitely wins first place.
Besides its breathtaking beauty, Boulder has 200 miles of public hiking and biking trails, 43,000 acres of open space, and 300 days of sunshine a year to use it. Second, Boulder’s home to lots of happy, smart people. People live here because they want to, not because they have to. Boulder was named the “#1 Happiest, Healthiest Place in America” by a 2011 Gallup Poll, “Foodiest” by Bon Appetit magazine, and “Beertown USA” by Draft Magazine. If this doesn’t make for a startup paradise, I don’t know what does. Let me know when you’re ready to move.
10. Orlando Has Startup Magic
Orlando is one of the cheapest places in the nation to launch a business. When we opened our doors in late 2009, we got things up and running without a huge investment of capital. We bought our 4,000-square-foot warehouse at a 50 percent discount, and all of our expenditures were bought at a discount.
Local leaders and organizations here embrace entrepreneurship in a big way. We are lucky to have Orlando Inc., which provides a strong support system and has helped us gain momentum quickly. The Rollins Business Accelerator and the UCF Business Incubation Program are also top notch and have helped tremendously with creating buzz, establishing partnerships, and connecting with mentors. UCF, the second-largest university, is nearby, so we have snagged some of the area’s top talent.
11. Berkeley Has Everything Necessary
Berkeley is an incredible place to launch a business. The UC Berkeley campus is right in the middle of the city, providing amazing resources of engineering talent and student interns, not to mention classes and professors. The community has a growing startup population, too, which means that all of the amenities are readily available. Office space is plentiful, as are incubators. The city government has experience dealing with setting up new businesses. And there are plenty of advisers to be found from already-existing businesses. Importantly, within the thriving Berkeley community there are plenty of customers. There are individuals across all demographic lines. And, of course, there are plenty of businesses across industry and scale if you are building a business-to-business product.
12. Silicon Valley Still Rules
All of the investors are here: whether you’re looking to join an incubator, raise an angel round of funding, or close your Series A, Silicon Valley has every type of investor in every type of industry you can think of. It’s still home to the best engineers: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Microsoft are all headquartered in Silicon Valley. These companies hire the best engineering talents. If you have the right pitch, the right vision, and get lucky, then it’s possible to get top talent to leave their comfortable corporate job and to join your startup. While the startup culture is emerging in many cities, startups are a tradition in Silicon Valley. The majority of people you meet here are founders, work at startups, or plan to leave their job soon to start their own company.
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