"Go west, young company" is becoming a tired routine. Startup culture, which has been inexorably linked to specific borders, is finding new and exciting footholds in places as far away from Silicon Valley.
Young entrepreneurs are starting to question the feasibility of entering the world's most crowded tech marketplace and are instead pioneering new ideas and altering the geographic lexicon to go with it. People with good ideas are no longer boxed into a zip code that starts with a "9." And they're happier for it.
If you're on the fence about where to house your startup consider these three factors:
1. Blazing new trails
There is no denying the fact that there are resources in Silicon Valley. There are cool warehouse spaces, loads of talent, networking, and workshops galore. The problem with a flooded community is competition for resources and mind share.
If you set out to own your backyard first, you will not only have a proud group of local cheerleaders, you won't be fighting for mind share. Phoenix, Arizona is a growing tech hub that some are coining the Silicon Desert.
There are numerous groups here that have rallied around supporting local entrepreneurs. Groups like #yesphx, AZ Technology Council and Invest Southwest, have all created programs and mentoring that are similar to programs that you'd find in Silicon Valley.
It's also important to point out that if you are in an area that isn't moving as fast, you have a huge opportunity to lay the foundation. You could very well be the pioneer known for jumpstarting a local ecosystem that supports your entrepreneurial community.
2. The talent struggle is real
There are two arguments to finding good talent in any tech community. You either struggle to find good talent or can't afford good talent. For hiring reasons alone, many will tell you to pack up and head west. Not taking into account the extreme cost of living, can you afford what it takes to hire in the Valley?
According to Glassdoor, the cost to hire a senior engineer in California is almost 20 percent higher than the national average. This cost can go even higher when you start competing for talent in the same regional area with giants like Google and Apple.
So where do you find it? The best and brightest from up-and-coming places like Phoenix, Colorado and Portland have chosen to build hubs from the ground up. With the lean startup mentality, founders aren't simply throwing money at a problem. They are getting their hands dirty and sometimes becoming the talent they need.
"I had to be extremely resourceful because investments don't flow in Phoenix like they do in other places like Silicon Valley," said Aly Saxe, founder of IrisPR. "Way before I raised my seed round I had to validate my product, get customers, and get those customers to pay. I was way outside of my comfort zone, but I learned. The unforeseen benefit was that when I did raise money, I had a very clear path of what to do with it, and how to hit milestones."
3. What about the money?
Yes, there is a lot of capital up for grabs in Silicon Valley. Anyone telling you different is wrong. However, it isn't the only place to raise money.
A recent article listed the best cities to launch a startup outside of Silicon Valley. Within each of these cities you'll find a theme: affordability, success of early stage companies, a community of entrepreneurs and availability of capital.
These are the types of things you should be evaluating in your own community. Dig in and find out what resources you have available to you. Connect with other entrepreneurs. Get to know your local influencers. If Silicon Valley is still the best fit for you, great. If not, put down that Ghirardelli chocolate, step away from Pier 39 and become your local success story.