Entrepreneurial success is less and less a matter of location
November 21, 2011
While Silicon Valley will go down in history as a crucial bulwark of tech innovation and entrepreneurship, the San Francisco bay area is no longer viewed as a must for startups and emerging enterprises.
Experts point to a number of reasons for this shift in attitude. For one, the California business landscape is very different than it is in, say, Texas or Virginia. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who created the social media giant in his Harvard University dorm, recently declared that had he known what he does now he would have kept Facebook in Boston.
"There's a culture out here where people don't commit to doing things," he said in an interview at the Y Combinator Startup School.
"If I were starting now, I'd do it very differently - but I knew nothing back then," he added, according to Inc. magazine. "You get this feeling when you're out here that you kind of have to be in Silicon Valley. There's all these great engineers out here, there's great universities, there's a lot of great VCs, you can get people to help you set up a company well … all this stuff."
Aside from the region's business climate, new technologies are allowing for increasingly decentralized workforces. Cloud computing, social media and mobile technology have allowed startups to source talent from around the country and manage an entirely remote staff.
Donna Harris, the managing director of startup regions for the Startup America Partnership - an organization devoted to inspiring entrepreneurship - has committed the organization to several ambitious goals. But to encourage entrepreneurial activity on a nationwide level, Harris acknowledges the need to rethink the idea of where startups establish themselves.
"We're definitely challenging that assumption that you need to move out to San Francisco [to start a business]," she told Inc. "You don't have to be physically face-to-face with your employees or customer base anymore. Many of these companies are global from day one. It's a completely different world for starting an enterprise than it used to be."
While it's important to locate one's operations around the talent, capital and other industry needs, Silicon Valley is not the only hub of such activity, Harris adds. Entrepreneurs should consider their immediate locations and weigh the benefits of relocating against those of staying.