There's no arguing that Silicon Valley is ground zero for startups and the natural location for founders hoping to grow massive companies with the help of VC cash. It's also true that the Bay Area is both unbelievably expensive and culturally distinct in a way that isn't to everyone's taste. It's also quite possibly across the country from your family, friends, and existing life.

So what should you do if you have big ambitions for your startup, but the idea of paying San Francisco rents or living in the Silicon Valley tech bubble is more horrifying than exhilarating? Investment intel startup Mattermark is here to help.

For a recent blog post, Mattermark crunched through its data on more than 6,700 investments in nearly 5,000 companies across the country over the past four years. The aim? Uncover "the best of the rest," to answer the question: "Where are the best cities outside of Silicon Valley to start or invest in startups?"

Two clear front runners emerged. "Let's say one wanted to be in a city that has an average of $250 million or more annual investment in early-stage companies, has general upward momentum in deal-making activity over the past few years, and has had a particularly high rate of investment activity in 2015," writes Jason D. Rowley in the post. In that case, you should head to these two metro areas:

  • Seattle
  • Denver/Boulder

Not a fan of rain or the Rockies? Then Mattermark has a few other suggestions for you as well, though Rowley notes these runner-up hubs all lack one of the markers of startup activity listed above. Still, Rowley is willing to add these hubs to the list of "the most exciting cities outside of San Francisco for 2016″:

  • Austin
  • Nashville
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Salt Lake City

Check out the complete post for much more detail on Mattermark's methodology, as well as fine distinctions among the cities (some have sustained growth as startup hubs; others are showing a current spike in interest and activity). However, before you start packing your suitcase, it might also be worth checking out this research that shows the best place to start a business just might be your hometown.

Published on: Feb 1, 2016