Is your startup shopping for a city to call home? Here are a few things to consider.
While residents of New York and San Francisco ceaselessly squabble over which city’s cost of living is more astronomical, new and vibrant entrepreneurial communities are popping up around the country. Here are seven important factors for startups to consider before settling down in a new locale:
A vibrant, forward-thinking community is essential to amplifying opportunities and promoting new ideas. Does the city you’re considering foster both remote and interpersonal connections? Is the existing populus diverse and inclusive? Focus your search on cities that are receptive to change rather than those resistant to an influx of new people, ideas, and lifestyles.
2. Fast and Free Wi-Fi
Speaking of connections, “High-speed fiber-optic Internet is among the ‘vital inputs’ startups need to grow,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s report on a 2015 study by CITIE. As entrepreneurs and their staff tend to work increasingly on the move, high-quality public Wi-Fi is not only convenient, it’s essential. Even Hillary Clinton agrees!
Two words: free WiFi.
In train stations, airports and other public spaces. https://t.co/6CJVBl9j7e
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 29, 2016
According to Inc.,“If your startup is…seeking a large user base, wanting every opportunity to scale, and needing an investment environment that isn’t risk averse — you might consider a move to Silicon Valley, New York, or Boston,” or other cities that have earned a positive reputation for startup investment.
Your startup may be turning a profit, but if your office space is running you $75 per square foot, you’ll be forking over an absurd percentage of your earnings simply to keep a roof over your employees’ heads. Even if the cost of living (and working) is high in your city of choice, allow yourself ample time to research particular neighborhoods or suburban areas where you might be able to set up shop at a lower cost.
5. A Flourishing Ecosystem
“Finding a city with a specific industry focus, such as manufacturing or health care, can be a critical issue when picking the right ecosystem for your startup,” says Inc. How quickly are you planning to scale? Will you need a deep pool of talent with a very specific skill set? The city you select should be able to fulfill your company’s niche requirements.
6. Skilled Workforce
Along the same lines, it’s important to find out what the pool of talent looks like in whichever cities you’re considering. Is there a healthy community of engineers? Is there a steady incoming flow of recent college graduates? While you may only have a handful of employees working for you now, it’s impossible to predict your future staffing requirements. A location’s proximity to universities, training centers, and large corporations with tech and engineering staff is well worth considering.
In that same vein, does the location you’re considering appeal and cater to young people? Bargain prices might not be worth it to your startup if young talent won’t thrive in the city you’ve selected. Things to investigate: a population’s reported levels of happiness, proximity to cultural institutions, climate, accessible outdoor recreational activities, and the number of singles and young families who call the city home.