While the San Francisco Bay Area — including Silicon Valley — has become an unofficial mecca for all things tech, S.F. isn’t the only place where startups thrive. Several other American cities are rising to compete with the Bay, offering budding companies room to play outside the shadows of giants like Google, Apple and Facebook, and at lower (read: lifestyle-friendly) prices.
Below, we’ve curated a list for you of surprising and not-so-surprising locales where you might consider putting down startup roots. Our method? Looking at city tax breaks for small businesses, government programs, talent pools, culture, and more.
If you happen to live in one of these cities already, you should be good to go. If not, then you might consider making the move. Even if you’re not a founder in the making, you couldn’t ask for a more vibrant, inspiring scene than the startup world. (Although we might be biased.)
Without further ado:
1. San Francisco. Let’s just get this one out of the way. Why? Because if it didn’t make the cut, people would question the rest of the list. As home to Silicon Valley forerunners Stanford Research Park, Hewlett-Packard, and Xerox PARC, the Bay Area gets the legacy win here. The culture couldn’t be more fertile for startups.
Today, Google, Apple and Facebook employees wait on corners all over the city to have shuttles take them an hour south to work. And unsurprisingly, a healthy number of San Francisco-based startups claim one or more former Googlers as founders, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and so many more — most of which settled in the Bay Area. Given the prominence of tech in the local zeitgeist, it’s nearly impossible to sit in a bar in the city and not overhear a conversation about so-and-so’s startup or startup idea.
Also, while San Francisco’s legendary pricey-ness seems like it would deter burgeoning, young entrepreneurs, its proximity to the epicenter of the venture capital universe is beyond compare. About 30 miles south, Palo Alto’s Sand Hill Road is lined with VC firms that are constantly on the lookout for the “next big thing.” Being able to take a meeting in the middle of the day is invaluable when a seed round or first round of funding is on the line, making SF and the Peninsula just south of it a no-brainer choice for most startup world denizens.
2. Los Angeles. Not that many people think of startups in a city dominated by the entertainment business. It makes sense, though, that a large metro area brimming with creative professionals (28.8% of Santa Monicans identify this way) would support some innovative companies. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to live in any number of neighborhoods and suburbs ringing LA than in the Bay. Across the board, the cost of living is lower…
Read more: Venture Beat