How to Start a Company Outside of Silicon Valley

In Episode 6.4 of The Startup Show, Joe Procopio (Automated Insights, ExitEvent), Jon Colgan (Veeto, Cellbreaker), and Andy Roth (RocketBolt) are kind of done with all the thinkpieces coming down from on high that plead with every startup ecosystem that isn’t Silicon Valley to stop trying to be like Silicon Valley. Trust us. We’re not. But we do need to focus on all the ways in which we’re different and how to play to our strengths.

Look. We get it. West coast investors don’t invest in places outside of Silicon Valley because there’s so much money and opportunity falling out of pockets on Sand Hill Road.
See Episode 5.1: Why West Coast VCs Won’t Fund Your Business.

The thing about startup is that it doesn’t work well unless there’s a community built around it. Techstars’ Brad Feld likes to say that building a startup community is a 20-year proposition that needs to be led by the entrepreneurs.

But can that 20-year window shortened if we start leaning on technology, like video conferencing, teleworking, and freelance marketplaces? Shouldn’t we be able to connect and bring the physical hubs closer together with digital hubs (like with, say, Teaching Startup)?

It depends.

And do we all have the same definition of startup ecosystem? This is a very good question and the answer is probably not. And we probably shouldn’t.

West Coast money does trickle here, and make no mistake, that’s a good thing. It comes here for ideas and teams that are just a little bit better than the ones out there.

But is the crown jewel of an ecosystem a bunch of multi-million dollar rounds and unicorn valuations? Does it need to be marked by several massive exits? What about customer-first startups? What about medium-sized exits? What about huge, profitable startups with lots of customers? What about revenue, jobs, and economic development?

Again. It depends.

What makes a bigger splash? Five startups that each pass $500K in revenue or one startup that raises $25M. People focus on the latter because it’s sexier, especially people who aren’t entrepreneurs. But the odds say that the $500K revenue startups probably make more of an impact on the community around them for a longer time.

That focus on the greater impact is what we’re trying to change with Teaching Startup and The Startup Show. Let us know how we’re doing.