4 Ways to Maximize Your Startup's Hometown Advantage
Entrepreneur is on the road with startup platform Rise of the Rest. Check out Startup Anywhere for stories from the October road trip as well as for insights from thought leaders and community leaders showing there’s an entrepreneurial world outside Silicon Valley.
The lion’s share of all venture funding in the United States goes just to three states California, New York and Massachusetts. Experts in the entrepreneurial world and VCs often state these major startup hubs eat up to 75 percent of the funding, leaving the remaining 47 states left to scrap over the last dollars available.
Chances are you know this statistic. It’s well-known in startup circles and was referenced often Monday at the Nebraska stop of Rise of the Rest, a startup celebration of American entrepreneurship. Throughout a day’s worth of programming in both Omaha and Lincoln, founders, investors and community leaders alike repeatedly acknowledged that despite great successes, startups outside Silicon Valley still had steep mountains to climb.
It was a warning. Being innovative or original isn’t good enough. They need to execute. They need to win -- and keep winning. “This is no time to get complacent,” said Steve Case, AOL co-founder and brainchild of the Rise of the Rest tours.
So if being great isn’t good enough, what more is there to do? Our experts from the tour’s first day have some suggestions.
Take a look -- and make the most of your hustling.
1.Stop being humble.
When you have a success, you need to tell people. When your community has a success, you need to tell people. In fact, the rallying cry for Omaha startups Monday was “Bang the Drum,” a reminder to tell the world about what’s going well and what only you can do.
For a humble midwest sensibility, this could be a challenge -- but it’s one to be conquered, says Case. “Humility is positive, but it gets in the way of promoting the successes of these cities.”
If you have trouble touting your own accomplishments, talk about someone else. Consider being a booster for your team or the great partners and startups around you. As Case reminds us, one startup’s success and visibility can put an entire city on the map, helping others rise up and drawing both investors and talent. “Then the rest truly will rise,” Case says.
2. Study your idols.
Ask yourself: Who’s doing it right? Is there a hot shot local company you admire? Maybe this company mastered social media or snagged impressive funding or has proved to be staggeringly talented. Don’t be afraid to reach out, says David Hall, a partner at Revolution Ventures. Most people are happy to meet for coffee and with any luck you’ll forge a connection that works for you both -- one where each side can provide a source for advice, referrals, gut checks and tips on navigating a city you both share.
3. Lure (former) locals.
If you can’t find the talent you need, consider friends and colleagues who might have once lived in your city but moved away for other opportunities, says Case. Update these ex-pats on why you live and build in that city -- and what excites you about it.
Conversions might not come quickly, but the time you invest could pay off. With some luck and persuasion, you might snag proven people who know you and your market.
4. Give back.
If you are a startup outside Silicon Valley that’s won success, remember, you have some responsibilities. You brought visibility to your city and your efforts can help others. Case stressed this at a visit to the headquarters for Hudl, a breakout company that provides tools to teams of all sizes to improve athletic performance. Hudl turned heads last year for snagging $87.5 million in funding. “You have a responsibility,” he said, to help the others rise.