March 12, 2015
Believe it or not, just 30 miles south of Salt Lake City lies one of the most innovative and hot spots of the tech startup industry, cleverly nicknamed “Silicon Slopes.” Furthermore, Utah has been ranked the “most small business-friendly state in the U.S” as well No. 8 on the list of largest share of funding from venture capitalists. Major companies have planted their roots, including Vivint, Qualtrics, and Domo. Basically, the future is becoming very bright in the Beehive State. So bright that it may rival Silicon Valley sooner than you think.
So, how did this small and mostly overlooked area become this successful? What makes Utah so great for tech startups?
For starters, Utah’s economy has never been better. Cheap cost of living, cheap real estate and tax breaks helps many businesses get off the ground and running without the financial burdens of larger cities. In the previous years, Utah has been named 1st in economic dynamism in the Kauffman Foundation New Economy Index, best state for business and 2nd for business climate, according to Silicon Slopes website. Because of this, Utah houses a growing economic atmosphere that is ideal for tech startups wanting to make a name for themselves.
In addition, Utah has a great employee feeder system thanks to innovative programs and schools at local universities, mainly Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. Both schools have top MBA as well as competitive computer science programs—which can directly translate to the tech startup industry in sales or web help desk. Plus, recruiting is plentiful thanks to the qualified and eager graduates both schools continually pump out. The kicker isn’t just access to great employees, but rather, many like to keep their roots in Utah.
Customer service is another big factor with the success of Utah Valley. These small businesses know how to appeal to their employees, valuing a work/life balance, specifically catering to families and family time. Companies are also “scrappy” when it comes to landing clients. Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics explained that “We were bootstrapped for ten years, basically. What we killed is what we could eat. You’ve got to be extremely scrappy. Some of the most innovative times at Qualtrics have been when our back was up against the wall and we had to make payroll. And every employee had to count and contribute to the bottom line.”
All and all, startups, no matter the industry need to be placed in an environment that is well-established, talent locally accessible, and in an economy that can support and expand a business. As you can see, Utah is becoming that, as one of the most economical choices for new startups.
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