5 Cities You Wouldn’t Expect to Have a Thriving Startup Scene

5 Cities You Wouldn't Expect to Have a Thriving Startup Scene

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When you start your own business, you want to get all the benefits. You want a good co-founder, a good team, a good wealth of resources and as many resources as possible to help you get through these very difficult early years of ownership of a startup. As a result, many entrepreneurs flock to cities known for a thriving start-up scene.

Related: Top 10 Small Towns Where Business Thrives

But what exactly constitutes a “thriving” start-up scene? It mainly boils down to the ease with which an aspiring entrepreneur can start a business and run it for more than a year. Useful factors include:

  • Availability of funding, both from government-sponsored programs and from resident venture capitalists.
  • The presence of other startups and entrepreneurs who, in a kind of snowball effect, attract more new entrepreneurs and can mentor promising candidates.
  • Programs like accelerators, incubators and contests, to stimulate innovation.
  • A potential clientele, because large cities with wealthier residents support new businesses, making more purchases from consumers than their smaller and poorer counterparts.

We all know that the densely populated cities on the West Coast, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, are startups and that the big cities on the East Coast like New York offer them good value for money. But what about other major American cities?

1. Seattle

Seattle’s attractive location makes it attractive to potential entrepreneurs. It is close to California and serves as a strong city on the west coast, but stands out by itself. A handful of successful startups emerged from there, including Zillow, Amazon and Microsoft, making Seattle more attractive to entrepreneurs; and several new initiatives have emerged in recent years to make the city more accessible to the development of small businesses.

2. Boston

Boston is home to an ever-growing number of startup organizations and programs, including MassChallenge, which is said to be the largest startup accelerator in the world. The Boston Foundation, which invests in nonprofit organizations and helps the region’s economic development, is also helping. The proximity of several educational institutions like Boston University and M.I.T., as well as an influx of angel investors, make the city even sweeter for new entrepreneurs.

3. Cleveland

Located in the heart of the Midwest, Cleveland is not particularly close to either coast and is therefore often considered a kind of no man’s land. But between its multiple colleges, including Cleveland State University, Case Western and John Carroll, and its multiple emerging accelerators and incubators, like Flashstarts and JumpStart, this city is well positioned as a hotspot for entrepreneurship.

Related: The 25 Best American Cities for Tech Startups

4. Boca Raton

Located in a state stereotyped for its many retirees, this city of Florida hosts an impressively educated population, with 47% of residents having a BA or more. Boca, which also houses a huge IBM factory, is home to dozens of startups from tech professionals in the region who are looking to grow on their own.

5. Raleigh

Raleigh still has a long way to go to welcome a new Silicon Valley, but its innovation heights are a good start, and its proximity to North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina, Research Triangle Park and Meredith College gives it a mature, educated young population.

How to strengthen the community of startups in your city

I chose these five cities because throughout my research, they seemed to be those with the most available resources and passionate communities (at least compared to the public perception). However, I have two caveats: first, there is no really objective way to measure what qualifies a city as friendly or useful for startups. There are too many subjective factors and unknown variables.

And, second, any city has the potential for a thriving start-up scene – all it takes is the right people to make it happen.

If you are an entrepreneur in a city not mentioned on this list, or who still lacks a healthy start-up scene for startups, you can personally take steps to boost the improvement of your environment.

Start networking more and let more people know about your startup. Visit local colleges and chat with students about entrepreneurship opportunities. Connect with other successful entrepreneurs in your area and try to start a program or workshop for new entrepreneurs, even if it’s informal and small to start with. You can also get involved politically by talking to your representatives and pushing for more economic development opportunities.

The more active you are in your community, the more likely entrepreneurs like you will have an impact and survive in today’s economic climate.

If your city already has a thriving start-up scene, make an effort to participate more actively. Or consider starting one. By working together in better environments, we can all find more success.

Related: 9 Hot-Start US Cities That Are Not San Francisco or New York

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