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Startup math: Boston > SF

Posted by Chad O'Connor  November 8, 2012 11:00 AM

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I'm going to get some nasty emails from my friends in SF for this post, but Boston has it. To me, SF is a colossal blob of entrepreneurs and disjointed efforts (this doesn’t mean that I am not still interested in moving to SF someday) while Boston's startup community is still navigable.

After being here for more than a month, repeatedly I’ve been urged to talk to the same handful of folks by just about everyone I've connected with here. At first this may be disconcerting—there is a lack of human capital in the space. But let’s be honest, we have heaps of human capital in Boston. What these conferring referrals tell me is that the systems in place are functional and that new initiatives are building on previous efforts instead of competing.

For a young startup, this organized community is vital. Beyond having competent entrepreneurs, there are two main reasons why startups fail:

1. Lack of resources and direction
2. An abundance of opinions and being pushed in varied directions.

Boston’s resources for startups are growing and the community is becoming more connected instead of less—a problem SF had as it grew. From a startup’s point of view this means that you don’t have to have 5 different conversations with people that are tangentially related to your project. Rather, you need only have at most 2 to become directly connected to the people that are going to directly influence the success of your startup.

This is critical. People make startups happen and if you are not talking to the right people or if you’re struggling to navigate the community, it’s going to be hard to succeed.

I’ll end with these three points.

1. Community is organized in Boston: you’ll spend your most valuable resource, time, talking to the right people.

2. You'll save money: rent is 20% lower in Boston and the public transportation is extremely functional.

3. Talent in Boston is hungry: you can find lots of smart, competent co-founders or next hires.

While SF has all the glamour around it, if you’re a young startup looking to move to the best place—come to Boston.

Andrew Foote is Program Manager of Village Capital/VentureWell. Village Capital has run programs for impact focused startups all over the world and is launching its first program in Boston focusing on cleantech and mobile IT.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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