San Diego isn’t Silicon Valley. And that’s fine by me.

I just read a post on Mashable:

“Can San Diego Compete With Silicon Valley? Depends on Its Next Mayor.”

I’m sick and tired of people comparing San Diego to San Francisco. I normally don’t read Mashable, TechCrunch, etc. but the title lured me in.

I don’t know about your city, but my city is constantly trying to be like San Francisco. If you ask anyone at an SD tech event what San Diego needs, you would hear responses like:

“We need more local investors.”
“We need support from the city.”
“We need better speakers.”
“The city is too spread out to be a good tech hub.”
“We need more incubators.”
“We need more talent.”

Bullshit. These are excuses from people who like the idea of startups, but want everything handed to them.

In the past few months, we’ve gotten to know some amazing San Diegans, and are surrounded by innovation and awesome products where we’re living (Little Italy/Downtown). In fact, I’m at a coffee shop right now, and I‘m surrounded by three others with Sublime Text open on their screens.

The Talent

Drew Wilson is in San Diego.
Michael Sacca + Tiny Factory are in San Diego.
Digital Telepathy is in San Diego.

And I’ll tell you what, those are people/companies that I admire and constantly learn from. They are building products they love. They are bootstrapping. They have lives outside of work. They are setting a good example. I can’t say the same about many SF companies.

As long as SD is chasing after SF, we’ll always be inferior. We’ll always be attracting sleazy investors and annoying recruiters to events rather than real artists. And others will constantly doubt our city because of crap articles like the one Mashable published yesterday.

I haven’t been to a San Diego tech event for about a year now. When you’re surrounded by a lack of actionable advice from speakers and more investors, recruiters, and wantrepreneurs than actual product builders…you end up with mediocre pitch contests and similar events. These events accomplish nothing but making product builders feel inadequate.

I’ve seen one too many pitch contests in which the best question the “judges” can muster is, “What’s your target market,” or “Is the market big enough,” or “What are your growth projections?”

It gets worse…you now have to pay to participate in these events!

Pay to pitch to other startups? No thanks. I’ll focus on customers.

Joelle and I hang out in a HipChat with some other bootstrappers on a daily basis — and the value delivered on an hourly basis is off the damn charts in comparison to local events.

What San Diego should Strive for…

If you were to ask me what some cool tech hubs were, I’d mention Virginia and Philadelphia.

In Virginia, you’d find folks like Brennan Dunn, Andrew Culver, Michael Buckbee and others sitting around a table talking about pricing lessons they’ve learned from their SaaS products.

In Philadelphia, you’d find Amy Hoy, Thomas Fuchs, and Alex Hillman doing a great job of teaching others about SaaS — and building the perfect place to call home.

What makes San Diego a great location for startups?

The people who are building and charging for real products. The people that are building real businesses and not riding a lottery ticket. The only problem San Diego faces is: these people are too quiet.

They’re here, but they aren’t known — and they need to be. Because together, we can build San Diego into a Virginia or a Philly: a place to be inspired by other smart people who are building sustainable lifestyles, profitable products, and happy families. That’s where I want to live.

Michael Sacca, Joelle, and I are organizing a Bottlecraft night for local product people. Tweet @SDMattG if you’d be into that.