Starting-up: Community not just location

There’s no doubt that location is an extremely important factor for startups. But what if you’re not based in one of the great startup tech hubs e.g. Silicon Valley or Boston – do you move to one or make the most of where you are? The benefit of any location is the local supporting community and locality of your target customers. To be a success focus on the nearest and best resources to your location.This even applies being in the greatest startup hubs. There are no guarantees of success!!

Paul Graham said, when referring to great startup locations:

“…that’s where the experts are. Standards are higher; people are more sympathetic to what you’re doing; the kind of people you want to hire want to live there; supporting industries are there; the people you run into in chance meetings are in the same business.”

No matter where your startup is, you  are competing on a global playing field. Your product has to be world-class to survive! This means startups can start anywhere, if you are committed to competing with the best. However startups aren’t easy and they need lots of friendly help and support. This can be derived from a good location, strong local support and a willingness to travel.

Two friends of mine – Adam Bird (CTO, co-founder of Esendex) & Andy McLoughlin (Strategy Director, co-founder of Huddle) recently packed their bags for Silicon Valley. Their two successful companies are proof that tech companies can make it outside the valley. But why are they heading for the USA? The US is a very big market and customers there expect a local presents, preferably a founder and The Valley is the centre of tech in the US. Esendex and Huddle made the most of their local community eco-system and local customers before branching out to the States.

At this years SXSW Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson, the founders of crowdSPRING based in Chicago said if you want to succeed as a startup outside the existing ecosystems in Silicon Valley, etc., then you have to invest in your local ecosystem.” Both Adam and Andy have made significant efforts and impact on their local communities. Andy/Ali setup DrinkTank and Adam started Nott Tuesday. They were focused on their local startup eco-system. These guys have also been very supportive to other startups, like ours.

Just because you are located in a startup hub like Silicon Valley or Boston it does not mean your startup will be successful. What really matters is attitude, just look at Skype from Luxembourg,  MySQL from Helsinki and Bebo from London. Startups have to make things happen wherever they are and they need to help create a support network around them – this is what really matters.

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3 Responses to “Starting-up: Community not just location”

  1. Joel Gascoigne Says:

    I agree completely Nick, great point well put.

    This is precisely why I started http://startupmill.com, and you’ve just convinced me to work on it further. I had events running regularly in Sheffield until I moved to Birmingham, and I’ve been caught up with things here but I agree that you really do have to generate your own community and that it helps a lot.

    I am very happy you say “No matter where your startup is, you are competing on a global playing field”. Can’t agree more with that.

    It’s all about the support network around you, and I think Twitter helps a lot too.

  2. Nick Barker Says:

    Thanks Joel!

    The Startupmill sounds great – keep going!! I don’t think its easy running a startup and events at the same time but I believe the value is there (eventually).

    Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc are extremely helpful growing and staying in-touch with your local and international support network. The world is a smaller place because of these new tools. In many ways it is now easier to understand the “global playing field” i.e. your competitors, the latest trends, etc

  3. Nick Barker Says:

    Tweet from @rosskimbarovsky

    “Good read for startups worried about where they’re based: Starting-up: Community not just location”

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