Why I Moved Our Company From The Valley to The Triangle
This article may hit some millennials in the tech industry with the “West-Coast-or-bust” mentality as more than slightly incendiary. The following opinions are expressly my own, and I do not propose that The Triangle be empirically better than any other metro region in the US for technology. In this post I simply choose to express the benefits we’ve seen since moving to the region from The Valley, and why we chose to stay for the long-run and build our startup business here.
To start off, I too was one of those millennials just a couple years back. I graduated from college on the East Coast after having lived most of my life in Ohio, and wanted to find greener pastures — a place I could commit to living in for an extended period of time. To make a long story short, I became dissatisfied after the honeymoon period nearly everywhere I went. In San Francisco, I fell in love with the beauty of the area, but became quickly disenchanted with the cost of living, neglect of what seemed like rapidly increasing numbers of inhumanely treated homeless folks, and the mega-monoculture (of technology) that was breeding in the area since the cold war era. At the time, I had just begun my current startup and was not interested in talking to every single homeless person, grocery clerk, and hostel roommate about the latest startup trends — “tech talk” was impossible to avoid everywhere I went. I couldn’t catch a break. I had had enough.
I needed to ultimately pick a place that could work well for living as well as working — it had to be a large, metro region so that we could effectively hire the best people. It had to be an area with a low cost of living so that we could extend our runway for our bootstrapped company. It also had to be a place I would enjoy living — in short, a place that would feel like home. I ended up picking a number of places to live in for up to a month at a time, in search of the perfect location for me and my business. I tried Portland, Denver, Bozeman (yes, Montana), Austin, Nashville, Richmond — I just wasn’t happy in any of these places.
The final place I would end up trying became the unlikely hero of the story — Raleigh/Durham, NC. As a millennial, I would sign my first long-term lease in the region and rent office space for our growing startup business — two very difficult things for a millennial to do at this day and age. Here’s why I did it:
#1 Cost and Quality of Living
This first one is going to be obvious, but for starters, rental prices for housing are more than 70% cheaper in The Triangle area than they are in the The Valley. On the same side of that coin, numbeo.com ranked The Triangle area (Raleigh/Durham) as having the 2nd highest quality of life index in the world — an incredible 217.92 (this index takes into account the cost of living, safety of the area, purchasing power of consumer goods, traffic commuting time, as well as climate and property price:income ratio).
The area does have 4 distinct seasons, but its winters are exceedingly mild with a staggering 14 days above 70 degrees in 2017 during the coldest month of the year, February. On top of this, Raleigh is home to the largest beer garden in the world, The Raleigh Beer Garden, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. And although The Triangle region is now larger than the New Orleans metro area (at more than 1.3 million people), if you need to get away you’re just a 2.5 hour drive from the breath-taking Blue Ridge Mountains or Outer Banks, a 200-mile stretch of gorgeous, sub-tropical barrier islands.
#2 Access to Quality, Inexpensive Talent
According to the 2017 US News & World Report, Duke University ranks as the 8th best university in America (better than some Ivy League institutions), and UNC Chapel Hill is the 5th best public university in the country. These two universities as well as NC State and Wake Forest are all inside of The Triangle region. There is an overwhelming amount of young, professional workers in the region, and with an incredibly low cost of living businesses are able to make fair offers to employees at more than 50% less than what they would need to pay the same employee in the Bay Area or New York/Boston (to live at the same standard). The other great thing about the schools in the region is that you can get any type of talent you are looking for. Need an AI expert? Probably Duke. Need a gritty, talented salesperson? You’re probably looking for someone from NC State. Looking for a great writer? Wake Forest or UNC will definitely have some good prospects for you.
#3 Quick Access to Venture Capital & Free Workspaces
On the business end of things, there’s rapidly expanding action in The Triangle region. There are an estimated 1,500 well-established startups (>5 employees) in the area on crunchbase.com alone. Durham (inside the Triangle), is ranked as № 4 in the country in VC funding per capita (behind only San Jose, San Francisco, and Boston). This means although the area doesn’t have as much capital as The Valley, it is still one of the most entrepreneurial regions in the country — betting larger on its denizen entrepreneurs than almost anywhere else. In addition, there are some great early-stage Venture Funds, such as Cofounders Capital in Cary, who are deploying capital at light-speed.
In the past few years, co-working spaces have taken off and there are over 12 different spaces holding more than a few hundred people each in the area at the time of writing this. If you move your business to The Triangle, you can also take advantage of The Frontier, a 100% free co-working space (free Wi-Fi, tables, meeting rooms, etc.) for entrepreneurs to use during weekdays in the heart of the region. Oh, and The Triangle is also one of the first metro areas in the country to get Google Fiber.
Ultimately, I think the single most attractive part of The Triangle region is more intangible. By just being in the area you can hear and see that it’s not far behind recently emerged tech cities like Austin and Boulder. There’s an energy buzzing around similar to the one I felt during my time spent in The Valley, and everyone is genuinely excited to help you out (although that may just be the Southern hospitality)!
In conclusion, if you’re among the 40% of people living in the Bay Area and hoping to leave, you need to take a serious look at The Triangle.
Welcome y’all :)
Disclosure: If you happen to be in The Triangle region yourself (or open to relocating after reading the post), our team @mapmycustomers is looking to hire you! Have a peek at our open positions: https://angel.co/map-my-customers/jobs