The bay area, envied the world over for its industry of innovation, grabbed about 48% of the nation’s venture capital investment in Q1 2011. It does so consistently. What is it about the bay area that makes it a hub for startups???
It just has the right kind of vibe, attracting a special kind of talent, the younger scientists, programmers, and creatives who drive innovation.??
The bay area has everything they want:
• Authentic personality, young-feeling, but not new.
• Smart people, still tethered to their universities.
• An environment that tolerates oddness in which they feel they can be themselves.
• Neighborhoods which are grubby, fun, and near the subway.
This kind of talent doesn’t like to work in dreary office buildings in the suburbs that are a wasteland when the sun goes down. They like to head out for dinner then take the subway back to the office or lab to get some real work done, instead of going home to watch television.
When their startups grow into big companies, and move to the suburbs, they still keep an r&d center near the Red Line. Otherwise they’d loose the younger talent. Even investors have begun moving their offices from the suburbs to the Red Line.
What is also unique about the bay area is the support system in such areas as finance, law, accounting, headhunting, and marketing, tuned to help ventures form and grow. You just hop on the Red Line to go see anyone.
As John says about the Red Line on Yelp: “I would have a difficult time functioning without it.” But Sarah cautions: “The seats are SO much more comfortable on the BART than on the T. :)” Jeffrey disagrees: “Reupholster the seats. They’re gross.” Helen sums up how most nerds feel: “I LIKE the gross aspects of public transit.“
Startups trying to operate outside the bay area certainly succeed. But who would be willing to claim that a venture elsewhere wouldn’t benefit from moving to the bay area?
Our advice to startups? Get a place on the Red Line.
The Venture Development Center is Boston’s leading startup incubator for technology and life science companies.