Nowhere on Earth are there so many investors, companies, money and hustle per square foot as there are in the Silicon Valley. But does it mean you have to run your company in the Valley?
Having gone through YCombinator and have spent time around founders from New York, Seattle, Toronto, San Francisco, Orlando, Missoula, Cincinnati and many other corners of the world, I am convinced the location no longer makes a difference, your network does.
A location in itself is a set of factors such as weather, food and rent prices, proximity to entertainment, and a bunch of other things that overall simply mean "comfort." All of these factors can help you as a person, but they won't help your company.
Countless times, however, have I found help and support and answers to tough questions by reaching out to my network. In literally a matter of minutes I was able to help my company grow and overcome challenges because smart people were there to give me advice. Whether that was a group of YCombinator alums in San Francisco, mentors in Seattle, or just entrepreneur friends around the globe - the network made a huge difference.
Instead of choosing a city to start your new company, think about the network.
If you live somewhere super rural and there is nobody in town who can talk to you about startup activities, then you should probably move to a better place. But it doesn't have to be San Francisco. Cost of living in SF is so high, it wouldn't do you any good to be there, if you can only afford to work for three months until the money runs out. Why not instead move to Portland, and live off the same amount of money for 12 months?
When I first moved to Seattle, I was able to live there for over a year on savings from a year-long internship. It wasn't lavish, but it was enough. Meanwhile, in SF that would've not lasted me even six month. For me, being able to spend more time focusing on startup work without having to earn money was a huge win. Consider it.
That said, each network consists of really smart people, and the ones on the other side of the curve. Surround yourself with the doers, and not the talkers. People who only talk about doing a company but never actually do one, they will waste your time.
Connect with the doers; find smart and driven people with high energy who are involved. Together, you will move each other forward.
The name of the city that you live in does not make a substantial difference to your company, but the people you know and what you can accomplish together, that makes a world of difference.
Forget "the best city", and find the right city for you.
If you'd like to join the discussion, it's currently happening on Hacker News - right here.
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