Once the road sign informing you you're leaving Santa Clara County, California, recedes from your rearview mirror, the landscape for entrepreneurs resembles America in the pages of Stephen King's The Stand:
Too many hungry people competing for too few resources.
Here are a few exceptional resources outside of Silicon Valley that provide founders with capital (that's right: cold hard cash), mentoring, and other resources that can help startups outside of the Bay Area beat the odds.
The Secure Erie Accelerator is in its second year, and it targets startups in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the defense and security sectors. The program provides up to $150,000 through partnerships with other funding organizations, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the state's prestigious and long-running startup investment fund.
"Our initial class was incredibly impressive," said Erie Innovation District CEO Karl Sanchack. "One of the companies from that cohort was named one of the nation's most exciting startups by a major business publication. A few of our startups went on to participate in top programs like YCombinator, Techstars, and Quake LA--and we are excited about an even stronger class of applicants in our second year."
Founded in 2008, ITEN provides resources and educational programming targeted at tech product startups that have typically been in business for less than five years. Their programming includes educational resources and events, mentoring, corporate engagement opportunities, proof of concept validation tools and investor readiness training - providing a wide range of benefits. ITEN has been an early and important driving force in St. Louis' entrepreneur eco-system, which has been named one of the most supportive cities for startups.
"We focus on developing the technical and business knowledge of the entrepreneurs who become members," said Executive Director May Louise Helbig. "We get companies--and people--at all stages and in a variety of industries. Because of that, we want their experience to be uniquely beneficial for each founder and startup, in order to support the launch of commercially successful new businesses in the St. Louis region."
MultiPass Los Angeles
Host Organization: MultiPass
Location: Los Angeles, California
Application Deadline: Rolling
MultiPass accepts founders in the Los Angeles area who are creating a scalable company and have been in business for less than a year. Participants receive hands-on mentorship from experienced founders and successful investors. Participants also receive $120,000 in cloud infrastructure credits provided by IBM, along with technical consultation and the opportunity to pitch their startup to MultiPass' venture capital fund.
"We started this organization in St. Louis, and then brought it to Los Angeles," said founder Christian Johnson. "Being able to bring a program from the Midwest to the Coast is something we are incredibly proud of, but the reality is that founders in Los Angeles face the same sort of challenges: A lack of seed money, a lack of mentors, and a general lack of resources."
The moral of the story?
There could always be more, but founders outside of Silicon Valley still have resources at their disposal. It may require those founders to pack up their idea and bring it to Erie, St. Louis--or even (gasp!) Los Angeles.
But it could be worse.
The characters in The Stand had to pack up and head to (even bigger gasp!) Las Vegas.
And there was no seed money, mentorship, or educational resources at the end of that journey.