Memphis St. Louis Startups

Just Fucking Stop Comparing Every City To Silicon Valley And New York

Every City In America Started With Some Kind Of Entrepreneurship.

Everywhereelse-1 Just Fucking Stop Comparing Every City To Silicon Valley And New York

Since 2011 Nibletz has been the “voice of startups everywhere else” when Cameron Wright, Nick Tippmann and I set out on this journey we wanted to tell the stories of startups everywhere, besides New York and Silicon Valley. Both coastal hubs had plenty of media outlets reporting on what they were doing. TechCrunch, All Things D (now re/code), Business Insider, EnGadget, The Verge, you name it there were the startups from Silicon Valley and New York.

There’s nothing wrong with startups in Silicon Valley and New York. But take a look around the internet these days. We’re in the thick of conference and Startup Week season. Conferences, conventions, festivals and week long celebrations are in full swing, across the country. The season pretty much runs from March until November.

What you’ll notice though, is that every story on every outlet written about all of these amazing events features some version of the line “While XXX isn’t Silicon Valley or New York” in the opening paragraph.

Fuck That.

Entrepreneurship exists in every city in America, period. If there wasn’t some form of entrepreneurship in that city, there simply would be no city.

The ethos of Nibletz is “start where u are”. We travel to over 100 startup and entrepreneurial events per year, many in smaller cities in America. We constantly hear the same thing “we aren’t Silicon Valley”. Well what made your city. Why is your city even here. Usually you can trace the roots of your cities largest, or longest running company to people still living and taking part in your community today.

rsz_mckelvey Just Fucking Stop Comparing Every City To Silicon Valley And New York

St. Louis based founder of Square, Jim McElvu Speaks at Everywhere Else Conference in Memphis

One of the biggest examples of that is St. Louis Missouri. Of course the city is known worldwide for beer, but many second and third generations entrepreneurs in St. Louis have invested into the St. Louis startup ecosystem. Cultivation Capital can trace roots to the Busch family, as well as direct connections to Boeing Defense, Enterprise Rentacar and Scottrade.

Cruise over to Baltimore Maryland, where there ever-growing startup community continues to add more and more startups, accelerators and hubs. The angel group driving Baltimore innovation can trace it’s roots to Domino Sugar, Phillips Seafood and even more recently, Under Armour.

Take a look at this list of longest running companies in the United States from Wikipedia. You have to dive 32 companies in before you get to one that started in New York City. You have to go well into 100 to find one found in Silicon Valley.

If you’re really in the know about startups and entrepreneurship then you’ve probably head of a company called Fairchild Semiconductor. That is the “silicon valley” based company that Intel spawned out of. Fairchild is often believed to be the company credited with the name “Silicon Valley” because of the silicon found in the microchips and semiconductors. But did you know that Fairchild Semiconductor actually spawned out of Fairchild Camera and Instrument and Fairchild Aviation, both founded in Farmingdale New York.

This is not about Silicon Valley hatred it’s about starting where you are and trying to stop the madness of thinking “I have to get to Silicon Valley”. It’s about encouraging other jouranlists who cover startups outside the valley to stop comparing anytown USA to Silicon Valley.

Just recently one of my favorite writers, who happens to be a comedian too, Conor Crawley, gave a great expose on New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week. That event has gone from your typical week long celebration of startups, to a full blown festival that may one day rival South By Southwest Interactive. By some accounts there was more true entrepreneurship and startups in New Orleans the week after South By Southwest then down in Austin.

The opening sentence in the piece is: “While tech hubs like San Francisco and New York boast some of the most innovative companies in the world, the value of local ecosystems cannot be understated, particularly when it comes to promoting diversity in tech.”  Again, with the need to compare New Orleans, a town that’s been rich in entrepreneurship dating back decades before Fairchild moved into the bay area.

After identifying entrepreneurs and startups in your area, the biggest challenge will be attracting local investors to inject the capital needed into growing the community. That starts with reminding them, at some point, down their generational line, someone local helped fund their dreams.

Until then, identify the strengths in your own city and celebrate them.