Earlier this week, when scrolling through my Twitter feed, I came across an interesting article in Forbes: Will Boston Beat Silicon Valley in the Start-up Game? The headline caught my eye for a number of reasons, one being that when people think of start-ups, they often think of Silicon Valley. While Boston fosters plenty of innovation, especially considering it is home to the likes of MIT and Harvard, I was interested to find that Forbes contributor, Peter Cohan, believed the small city was poised to out-do Silicon Valley.
As Cohan notes, tech workers out of Silicon Valley demand high salaries and quick payback on stock options, thanks, in part, to the $8.2 billion in venture capital invested in Silicon Valley during the first three quarters of 2012. Therefore, its not uncommon to quit a struggling start up, while Boston tech entrepreneurs are more likely to to stick with the same start-up all the way through.
Cohan goes on to note that Silicon Valley’s tech talent even has different business strategies than Boston’s. Boston tech innovators, often coming out of MIT and Harvard, specifically, start a company in search of a new market. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley start-ups originate from entrepreneurs with previous work experience that have identified a customer problem and tapped into a new market in order to solve it. As Actifio CMO, Mike Troiano is quoted as saying in the article, “You talk to two different kinds of entrepreneurs: guys who have problems and are looking for solutions, and guys that have solutions that are looking for problems.”
In the past, West Coast start-ups had a better opportunity to tap into Silicon Valley’s rich tech resources and capital, whereas Boston start-ups didn’t have quite as many options. In Boston this was partly because, geographically, everything is more spread out. But as of late, this has become far less of an issue for Bostonian start-ups, due to the newer concentration of start-ups and venture capital providers working together more closely in the Seaport District, Waltham and Kendall Square. With this, the culture of Boston start-ups, in the sense the sense of networking and mutual connections, has become much more Silicon Valley-like.
As March has clients in both the Silicon Valley and Boston area, it’s especially interesting to look at the fundamental differences of start-ups on each coast. While it’s hard to imagine Boston will ever completely out-do Silicon Valley, I think the city is one to watch, and holds a lot of promising tech innovation for the future!