This is a followup to a post from GeekWire, entitled "How do we make the Seattle startup ecosystem stronger?"
First, let me tell you why I care. I moved to Seattle about 10 months ago to work on my own startup. No, I didn't just quit Microsoft and I didn't have a trust fund, I just really wanted to build a startup, took all the little savings that I had, moved and haven't regretted it. I love Seattle, it's a beautiful city with absolutely amazing people. Seattle isn't Silicon Valley and for many reasons that makes it sometimes charming and sometimes repelling.
Over the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about Seattle lacking the "right" entrepreneurial environment, and what steps need to be taken in order for this city to be just as hot as the Valley. I find these talks very frustrating and damaging to the ecosystem because Seattle now comes across like a sore loser in comparison to the Valley. Hey, even Boulder sounds better than Seattle and I bet most people didn't even know where Boulder was, five years ago! Let me tell you a story and with this example show you what actually needs to get done.
In high-school, and yes, I am still young enough to remember, I was a co-captain of our cross-country team. We didn't have all the fastest runners, we didn't have the coolest gear or came from the preppiest town in the district, but somehow we always won. We didn't just win during my Senior year, we also won the year before, and the one before and before ... for very many years in a row our team was kicking ass.
The secret to success was very simple. No matter what day it was, there was one simple rule - there was alway a practice. If it rained, there was a practice, if it snowed, there was a practice, if we had to run knee deep in mud, there was a practice, and at 8am on Saturday, there was still a practice. You get the point, no matter what happened, there was always a practice! Our team was strong because it consisted of runners who were capable of running no matter what. Our runners were mentally strong and could persevere, when others cried and wimped like little babies.
How does all of this apply to startups, you ask? It's quite simple. There is a group of people in Seattle that is comparing this city to the Valley and then looks for all sorts of excuses why it's so much harder to build a startup here, rather than the valley. Are they right? Of course they are right. Funding is dry in Seattle, talent is scarce, there is no central hub to host all the aspiring entrepreneurs, and TechStars is the only accelerator that somewhat resembles the pace of the Valley. So yes, these folks are absolutely right, it is harder to build a startup in Seattle, but it's not impossible.
Tell me, would you rather build a company and know that everyone in your shoes could have done it, or would you rather overcome the impossible and show everyone else what your 'cajones' are made of?
Seattle doesn't need more discussion, Seattle doesn't need more events that attract service providers and wanna-be-but-never-be-entrepreneurs. Seattle just needs people who are going to start something, work hard, sleep for 4 hours a night, and then do it again and again until their startup is worth talking about.
There are many people like this in Seattle. There are great small companies, filled with brilliant and hardworking guys and gals who are working around the clock to make their dent in the ecosystem, who have a vision of a greater tomorrow and they are willing to suck it up and eat ramen until that vision in realized. You might not see these folks at most of the events, they are too busy working all the time. When it comes to mentors, there are also amazing people here too and they are willing and ready to help. They know who they are, and I am very thankful for their involvement.
We don't have it all here in Seattle, but we have more than enough. Unlike the GeekWire article suggest, NO we don't need to hop on a party bus and go to the other cities and tell them how good we are. What we do need, is to go and build some fucking startups!
Updated: This article was also published as a guest post on GeekWire. Please go here to check out more comments.