Maybe it's just me, but I've always found Silicon Valley (with the exception of San Francisco) to be rather depressing. Culturally, it reminds me of the boring parts of Los Angeles: dull offices, tract homes, strip malls, chain restaurants and gas stations. Yuck.
Despite the area's stultifying blandness, housing and office space alike have astronomical costs and there's a demand for talented labor that far outstrips the pool of available and educated workers.
"The Valley is victim of its own success, an expensive, crowded, hyper-competitive place that no longer works for all entrepreneurs," says Tim Sprinkle, author of the new book Screw the Valley: A Coast-to-Coast Tour of America's New Tech Startup Culture.
In his book, Sprinkle explains how to get your start-up started in seven cities where there's plenty of entrepreneurial action, lots of educated workers and where living is little bit less (organic) white bread. Here's some highlights:
Why Here: A deep base of been-there-done-that mentors who've worked for IBM, Texas Instruments and high tech firms that have been in the area for decades.
What's Hot: The Capital Factory downtown hosts an active coworking and incubator community.
Bonus Feature: Because it's located in a central U.S. location, it's a relatively short flight from both coasts and an even shorter one from the Chicago and other great lake cities.
Why Here: It's got a compact, tight-knit downtown where new and established entrepreneurs run into each other on a regular basis, sharing ideas and making deals.
What's Hot: Brad Feld, the founder of now-national tech incubator TechStars, is right in the middle of all this with his venture capital firm, Foundry Group.
Bonus Feature: 300 days of sunshine a year, winter temperatures that seldom drop below freezing, gorgeous scenery, and housing is 60% less than the Valley. What's not to love?
Why Here: Although located in a highly conservative part of the country, it's attracted and cultivated a population of highly educated, free thinking people.
What's Hot: Research Triangle Park has over 50 years of bringing research and development into the area.
Bonus Feature: Three major research universities within 30 minutes of each other--UNC, Duke and NC State--provides a steady stream of new talent.
Why Here: Entrepreneurs who grew up in the area and consider it home are committed to a renaissance of the city and see technology startups as a big part of the solution.
What's Hot: Detroit homeboy Dan Gilbert (chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans) is putting his money where his heart is.
Bonus Feature: Contagious optimism and the feeling of being part of something bigger than just starting a company.
5. New York City
Why Here: While it's get started, there's plenty of money in the city and east coast investors are becoming savvy about investing in the technology space.
What's Hot: It's New York City. 'Nuff said.
Bonus Feature: It is one of the largest B2C and B2B markets in the world, so it's the perfect springboard for globalizing your product. Remember: "if you can make it there..."
6. Kansas City
Why Here: Because of its long history as a railroad hub, Kansas City is the epicenter of the U.S. telecommunications network, home to Sprint PCS, among others.
What's Hot: A "startup village" area near downtown gives the community a place to congregate for events and office space.
Bonus Feature: A very low cost of living, which makes it easier for entrepreneurs to get off the ground with minimal investment.
7. Las Vegas
Why Here: There's lots of funding available for entrepreneurs willing to locate in the downtown core.
What's Hot: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is the driving force behind the area's recent tech buildup, but there's also a tight-knit and very involved entrepreneurial culture.
Bonus Feature: Cost of living and office space is low in the downtown area. And, since it's Las Vegas, you'll seldom hear "no" when ask a customer to visit your headquarters.