Buh bye, Silicon Valley
Ideas, passion and talent come from everywhere, not just the bubble that is The Valley. So, if you are starting a company and you are stuck on geography, you need to stop the insanity. Right now.
If we could all hop inside Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine and travel back to the ’80s, a.k.a. the decade of dial-up, Silicon Valley would be the perfect place for a tech-savvy, startup-loving entrepreneur.
Programmers galore, lots of Commodore 64s, a new invention called Microsoft Word, the revolutionary 2400-baud modem, and the Apple Macintosh.
We would be in geek heaven.
But since this is the year 2016, and our WiFi works just fine, thank you very much, it’s time to pass, because there is no need to base your startup in The Valley, or any major city for that matter.
Sound crazy? It is not.
Think about it — one of the main reasons why people start their own companies is freedom. As entrepreneurs, we crave the freedom to start something historically awesome; the freedom to our own bosses; and the freedom to make a difference. So, why would we chain ourselves to one geographic location when there are smart, fervently self-motivated people, full of diverse perspectives, within a moment’s reach, located across the globe?
Technology has come a long way since 1985, baby. So, get with it.
We have Skype, Google for Work, Slack, Blue Jeans, Hip Chat, Trello and Asana. We can hold video conferences via our Apple iPhone or Android while walking down the the street. So — unless you are just straight-up crazy, or have a very unique and valid reason — the only time you should think geographically is when launching a brick and mortar business, like a coffee shop. And even then, I say, you need to go virtual to expand your reach (but let’s save that for another article).
Need funding? In addition to great communication and team-collaboration tools, there are also lots of new types of funding options available for startups now, too. So, skip the traditional, Silicon Valley venture capital route, if funding is your thing, and go virtual with crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and online networks, like Angel List, Circle Up, EquityNet and Peerbackers.
By taking advantage of today’s tech, startups that are mostly, or even 100%, virtual (such as Buffer, Upworthy, Basecamp and my company, Vult Lab) can save money on office space, equipment, insurance and other fixed costs. And, since studies show that employees given the freedom to choose where they live and work are happier and more productive, startups that don’t focus on geography will become more efficient, too. Extra bonus: Less commuting time means less burden on Mother Nature.
According to Microsoft, the 10 biggest perks of working from home, from the employee perspective, are:
- Increased work-life balance (60%)
- Save gas (55%)
- Avoid traffic (47%)
- Increased productivity (45%)
Now, I’m not going to lie. Being inside the tech mecca might be cool for a hot minute, because what tech-savvy entrepreneur doesn’t want to live in Steve Jobs’ historic ‘hood? But, when you think about the fierce competition for talent, high office rents, bigger salaries to pay and long commute times, you’ll soon realize that — in most cases — being a bootstrapping founder with a startup in San Francisco is not worth it.
Even the San Fran Girl Scouts had to hike their cookie prices to pay the rent.
If you are basing a company that could be virtual in Silicon Valley, or any other major U.S. city for that matter, you’ll be stressed, distracted, forced to charge more than you should, and hurting for funds when what you should really be doing is focusing on your company’s mission, developing your product, building an incredible team and expanding your reach.
We are fortunate to live during an incredible time in history. We cannot time travel (yet), but we can travel digitally. And, for bootstrapping startups, that’s the best superpower yet.
So, instead of rubbing elbows with the tech-scene’s 1%, work to pull the best talent from around the globe. In the long run, continually expanding your reach through a diverse team located around the world will make you stronger.
As long as you have proper Internet access and a talented, passionate team, you can build something amazing. From anywhere.