Many aspiring entrepreneurs pack their bags and with a dream in hand, move to Silicon Valley. Wooed by media coverage of success stories like Facebook, these entrepreneurs seem to firmly believe that the phrase “Location! Location! Location!” applies to a 5-mile radius around Palo Alto.
Increasingly, however, entrepreneurs are finding success in starting companies closer to home. As more cities invest in their entrepreneurial ecosystems, the number of reasons to start a company in your own backyard continues to grow.
Here are just a few arguments for why your home town is a great place to start a business:
Real Estate Some entrepreneurs argue they need to be located in Silicon Valley to be close to potential investors but a “have pitch deck, will travel attitude” creates opportunities to seek funding in less crowded waters while still being just a flight away from west coast investors. A plane ticket may see pricey but not in comparison to the price of office space in Silicon Valley, which is often more than two times the national average.
From the Lehigh Valley, you can reach the major hubs of Philadelphia and New York in less than two hours and be close to vast customer networks in Northeast. Many affordable options exist for commercial real estate and co-working spaces like Velocity, Hive 4A and SoBeCo Works all reduce the barrier to move your business out of your garage.
Talent Silicon Valley has a large pool of talented workers but demand far outpaces supply.
Additionally, competition for top talent between fledgling startups and larger players such as Google and Facebook has driven up salaries, especially for technical talent.
Fortunately, as more schools are encouraging students to consider careers in entrepreneurship, recent graduates across the country are now more likely to seek opportunities to build a business. The Lehigh Valley has a particular rich talent pool from institutions like Cedar Crest, DeSales, Lafayette, Lehigh, Moravian, Muhlenberg and Penn State Lehigh Valley. In addition to great talent, programs like Penn State’s Lehigh Valley Launch Box are providing grants and other resources to the broader community.
Relationships Relationships are, arguably, one of the most important resources for any entrepreneur. Starting your business closer to home allows you to make use of the connections you already have rather than starting over in a new environment.
Locating in a smaller market also helps you grow deeper relationships with customers, investors and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in your community. Surprisingly, many entrepreneurs find it also helps them build stronger relationships with those outside of their community. Because they may only get a little bit of face time with a west coast entrepreneur, they use that time thoughtfully to continue to advance the relationship and hopefully get the check needed to continue to grow.
Before you pack your bags for the west coast, why not think about a different valley to be home to your new business. Not only will you save money on real estate and salaries, but you can leverage a vast network of resources that the Lehigh Valley has to offer entrepreneurs.