So during the last couple of months, the amount of times I’ve heard “we need to be based in the valley” from startups has increased – a lot.
Yesterday I found a blog post about the “European ecosystem” for startups – I think the article has a lot of great points, but I want to add my own more-action-filled 2 cents.
Should all startups move to Silicon Valley? I don’t want to move there and here’s why: I want to be at my own personal silicon mousehole called Elsinore, Denmark. Because it’s cool here and it’s where my kid goes to school. See, we are possibly 3 companies up here working with the internet. It’s not even Copenhagen. I don’t see a decentralized tech scene as something bad, I see it as something remarkably “glocal” and an opportunity to tell a different story than yet another startup-out-of-the-valley. I think what we need to aim at, is the “clusters” in the different cities, making sure that companies within the same field work together to ensure further growth.
We have a technical ecosystem that makes sure that we can work on projects from anywhere in the world with video and cms/crm/project management systems located somewhere on the internet. And basically being based in the same city makes me not prioritize meeting people here, because I could meet them at any time. I think there’s a huge psychological thing attached to geographical locations that isn’t taken into consideration when talking about “the whole tech scene needs to be in the valley” and the “competitive advantages of valley startups”.
So how do I make sure that people in the tech scene know about this little blonde tornado (aka. me)?
I often do tours of Europe to be present at the gatherings that are made in and for the European tech scene, it’s important to me because I get a grasp of what’s happening amongst the first-movers of the internet, it makes me connect to people, that are easier to connect with here than if they where in the valley. Oh and sometimes I even meet people at a different conference again – and they remember me.
Think about it. If you want to pitch/sell/get to know some hot shot person (maybe the coolest person in the world) it’s probably better to meet him when he’s out of his context when he’s in Paris or London or Copenhagen for a week and don’t really have anything else to do there than to speak at conferences and attend meetings. If he’s in the valley he’s within his own context and wouldn’t prioritize meeting you as much as he would if he was in Europe and had time on his hands.
So I definitely see that you need to be present physically in the tech scene, you need to meet people where they are (physically as well as on the internet). But I would rather stay put in my small town and fly out to meet the tech scene physically every second month (Europe, Asia, US ) instead of being present all the time, backing it up with skype calls and tweets and Facebook likes and what have you. Get a proactive and strategic approach to the tech community would create so much more for you as a startup than to be present in the valley at all times.
Live from my personal silicon mousehole