San Francisco as a startup hub
Generally speaking, I think all kinds of hubs are important. They gather like-minded people and offer a platform that is optimized to exchange best practice, share experience, find partners and mentoring. It is similar to having a real-life forum on the internet; people understand your situation, share your pain points and give great advice.
As an example, if you like music, acting or doing stand-up, your chance to improve at a fast scale is likely to be in a city like Los Angeles. Here are some reasons why:
People from all over the world fly to Los Angeles to give it a try and get noticed. While this can be perceived as more challenging, it is also a chance to keep up with your peers. It motivates you to work harder and try new approaches. I think “competitors” can also become good friends and help each other, which is easier when meeting in person rather than during a skype call.
Sticking to that analogy, a singer may need a guitarist to form a band. While there are great guitarists in all countries, the chances are high that you may find a professional guitarist looking for a band in a music hub like LA, London, NY, Berlin, … There are also plenty of events with the sole goal of connecting different parties, almost like speed-dating.
Events and experience sharing
A lot of experienced people are based in those hubs and many feel the need of giving back to the community, which is amazing. You can listen to their advice during regular meetups, as a jury member in a competition or if you’re lucky, during a meeting in person. There are also plenty of other events that help you improve towards that goal. In my case, there are over 200 meetups for/about startups and tech in San Francisco this week. I think it is a strong metric to see how dynamic a city is in a specific area (varies also with the size of the city).
Singers who make it in New York or Los Angeles tend to be noticed worldwide. The same goes for a luxury designer who makes it in Paris. I would assume this happens because we expect those hubs to outperform the world but also because we consume the vertical media who eventually focus on these cities (many are based there to be closer to the topic as well). Those media have a strong know-how and deep relationships with their scene. For global startups, an article on TechCrunch would immediately get thousands of eyeballs looking them up. Also, many investors will see that as a prestigious quality stamp.
Where the money is
As per the reasons mentioned above, people located in hubs tend to improve faster which make them more successful. That loop gives birth to many success stories that create wealth for their founders and shareholders and this attracts more investments and success stories. That is the reason why there are many ex-founders, early employees, and investors who now give back and invest in startups. You can find those people all around the world but it is more likely to find them in San Fransisco and other startup hubs.
For HuggyList, I need to improve faster in order to reach my first 500 active customers, find the right co-founders and start relevant discussions with investors. I can do all of that from Berlin or Switzerland but there are only 6 months remaining before I run out of money… and I see San Francisco as an informal accelerator program that will increase my chance of success.
Is San Fransisco the only relevant hub for HuggyList?
No, there are several good startup hubs and Berlin is one of them. Anyhow, San Fransisco still has the best reputation and I have been dreaming about it for a long time. My time in Berlin was too short (less than a year) to give a constructive feedback but the city has been great so far. I just feel that it is time to discover a city that has been on my bucket list for a long time now.
- Departure: mid-August
- How long: Not sure yet but 4 months at least