For many startup founders, it's Silicon Valley or bust. The Valley is believed to provide the best access to funding, talent and networks.
But not everyone drinks the Silicon Valley Kool-Aid. Other regions and cities have been emerging as startup hubs and centers for innovation.
Take Chicago, for example. It boasts a fast-growing and robust startup community. Some say it's the "get-shit-done, no-nonsense" culture of leadership. Others point to the diversity of industries and pool of top talent. Now here's another reason why founders might consider putting roots down in the Windy City: The chances for profitability are far higher.
This fact comes from a recently released report from Hyde Park Angels, the largest and most active angel investing group in the Midwest. HPA gathered data from Pitchbook, the U.S. Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Illinois Venture Capital Association to analyze the ecosystem of venture capital in Midwestern states. Here are a few other key insights from the report.
Investors are seeing huge returns
Chicago is more than a thriving city for startup founders. Many startup investors are making bank, too. Based on how the data has been trending over the past five years, it's wise to invest in Chicago-based companies. Because this city tends to generate big returns. Successful exits have included Chicago unicorns Grubhub, Gogo, Extenet, Cleversafe and Fieldglass.
The report included data from last year's PitchBook analysis, which looked at successful exits in cities around the country for companies with $500,00 or more in venture capital funding. When compared side-by-side with the number of exits companies in New York, the Bay Area and others, Chicago companies produced the most exits that generated 10x return on investment.
Chicago startups are 1.5x more likely to generate a 10x return for investors than any other city in the United States.
Chicago vs. other cities
The report compared the combined total of several city's top 10 exits over the last five years. In Chicago, the top exits totaled $10.7 billion. Seattle's top 10 generated $8.4 billion. Boston was $8.5 billion. Los Angeles was $9.3 billion.
Chicago came out nearly neck-and-neck with New York City, whose top 10 exits have totaled $10.8. Even though the population in New York City is far greater, Chicago exits were about the same.
Runway stretches further
Overhead can be the ultimate profitability killer. Payroll and rent are big expenses no matter where you operate. Those operating costs are far more expensive in most major cities than they in Chicago. It costs 21 percent more to operate in Boston and 25 percent more in New York, CBRE data found.
In New York, it'll cost you a whopping 42 percent more to operate. To stretch your runway further, it's in your best interest to do your startup in a more affordable city.
Does data like this mean Silicon Valley is losing its edge? Not necessarily. It's still a wildly profitable place. But this data does prove that entrepreneurs need not plant their startups in the Bay Area to be successful. If more founders continue to establish ventures in other cities -- and if those ventures continue to do well -- the potential to knock Silicon Valley down a few pegs will only grow.