How does the startup scene in Seattle compare to Silicon Valley? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
I think both places are great homes for a new startup. But they are very different. Here are some important differences in key aspects to consider when starting a company:
- Talent: Both places attract highly talented people. Clearly the supply of technical talent is larger in Silicon Valley, but the competition for talent is less fierce in Seattle, so, on average, I think Seattle wins on this front. Although Seattle has world class talent, including folks trained at places like Microsoft and Amazon, Seattle has many fewer folks who have worked at multiple startups; such experience can be really important when building a company.
- VC funding: Seattle is home to some great VC firms, including Madrona, Vulcan and Ignition Partners; these firms are excellent and super supportive. The Bay Area is home to a huge number of highly successful and influential firms. It's hard to build a startup in Seattle without heading to the Bay Area to fundraise. And, it is easier to raise money if your startup is headquartered in the Bay Area (it's natural ... it's easier for a VC to fund a company they can visit any time). That said, it's possible to raise money from great firms from Seattle. Dato raised $26.75M from Madrona, NEA, Vulcan, and Opus Capital.
- Ecosystem: The Bay Area has presence from pretty much every successful major company, so it's possible to connect with a large number of people, but there is a huge number of startups in the region, so it's harder to stand out. The Seattle scene is smaller, but, especially in the Cloud and data areas we engage in, Seattle is home to the highest quality companies, and these folks are extremely friendly and supportive. It's a great place to do what we do.
- Cost: The quality of life is awesome in both places; I've enjoyed my time living in the Bay Area and Seattle. However, the cost of living in the Bay Area has gotten out of hand. This impacts people not in tech, people in tech, and the cost of running a startup: salaries are lower in Seattle, there is no start tax in Washington(!), and all other costs are lower (e.g., space costs us about $4K per year per employee in Seattle ... these costs are 3x higher or more in the Bay Area).
I've lived in Seattle since 2012, and the entrepreneurial vibe and startup scene has been growing tremendously since then. And, pretty much every major company is opening an office in Seattle. So, I expect everything to evolve rapidly!
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