It’s been said that three most important considerations in real estate are “location, location, location.” Location can also have a huge impact on whether or not startup businesses succeed or fail.  Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin and North Carolina’s Research Triangle spawned some of the most successful companies in the world, but recently a number of other U.S. cities have created startup friendly environments that make them worth considering.

Cincinnati, Ohio

In Cincinnati, non-profit Cintrifuse provides office space and networking opportunities for startup companies. CincyTech, a non-profit venture capital firm focuses on helping startups get the funding they need to get their ideas off the ground, and The Brandery provides mentoring and support for entrepreneurs.

Procter & Gamble Vice President of Global Business Development Jeff Weedman has taken a two-year leave of absence from his responsibilities at P&G to head up Cintrifuse. Weedman says, “We don’t need to compete with Silicon Valley, Austin or Boston. We’re trying to build out this ecosystem so that 10 years from now, if our kids want to build a startup, they don’t have to move away.”

It’s a strategy that’s bearing fruit.  Although the majority of The Brandery’s graduates are originally from outside the Cincinnati area, 60 percent have remained there after launching.

Lisnr is one such startup. The company, which markets a mobile app that “allows audio to passively trigger fan interactions using a mobile device during the listening experience”, uses Cintrifuse’s office space. Lisnr CEO Rodney Williams says, “There isn’t a startup in this world that wouldn’t want to walk down the hall and talk to the world’s largest advertiser, P&G, on a daily basis.”

Nashville, Tennessee

In Nashville, the Entrepreneur Center provides fundraising opportunities, meeting space and networking activities for startups and associations like the GrowNashville technology entrepreneur group. Nashville is also becoming a Mecca of venture capital investment. So far this year, investors in the city have infused $72 million into 21 Nashville companies. Nashville-based venture capitalist Joe Maxwell says, “You’d be surprised how much money startups raise.” Maxwell meets with aspiring entrepreneurs just about every week and funds about 20 percent of them.

Although Vaco CEO Jerry Bostelman was initially reluctant to launch his administrative staffing firm in Nashville, he has become an ardent supporter of the city and its pro-business climate. “You come here kicking and screaming,” said Bostelman, “then you realize your house is 30% larger, the commute is cut in half and relationships matter in the business community.”

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder has also become a magnet for startups. The city is home to TechStars which has been ranked as one of the best mentoring and networking programs in the country. TechStars has been instrumental in raising $115 million for 65 startups; approximately 75 percent of which have stayed on in Boulder.

In addition to lower wages, and access to the University of Colorado’s research resources, TechStar graduates say they benefit from the communal atmosphere that the city offers.


Jose Pagilery    “The next generation of startup cities”  CNNMoney  11/27/2012

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