Startups: Try SD, not SF

Why San Diego can give you better data on your idea’s potential

San Diego’s skyline (courtesy of Flickr user peasap).

Let’s get this out of the way: I grew up in San Diego. I’m biased.

Now that we’re past that, I’m going to expand on why I think San Diego is where new startups should be launching and testing their idea.

San Diego is an epicenter of diversity.

It’s well-documented that San Diego County has one of the more diverse populations in America. And diversity is pretty important. If your company can test its product on different population groups and different cultures, it will help give you measurable data on how universal the appeal of your product is. If you only test your product in a few (predominantly white) neighborhoods in San Francisco, that’s not going to tell you much about how well your product will do in different markets.

San Diego is an optimal population size.

The population of the city of San Diego is 1.35 million-that’s big enough to provide great data, but small enough that a startup doesn’t have to scale too big, too fast, in order to meet demand from its first city. San Francisco has a smaller population size, and thus less potential data to mine.

San Diego is less expensive.

The median office lease per square foot is $288 in the city of San Diego, compared with $685 in San Francisco. That’s a little less that half the cost — and it could allow you to run longer on your seed money (and we all know how fast that goes).

And hey, it has better weather

Many startups have tried their idea in San Francisco, and then gone on to utterly fail in other markets. San Francisco has become the tech bubble; new ideas might seem perfect inside its technological utopia, but they won’t succeed elsewhere. (Just take a look at, and read how many say “we didn’t build something people wanted”.)

San Diego offers a unique blend of other cities —and consistently glorious temperatures— that just might give your startup the data it needs to learn to grow and scale successfully.

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