Two weeks ago I posted a poll which surveyed readers about their perception about the relative attractiveness of their regional venture community. Now that about 1,500 questions have been answered and post is no longer in the top portion of my blog it’s time to share some of the results.
I created the poll on a service called Urtak which enables people to both answer and create questions. I like this functionality because I often feel like surveys are not asking all of the right questions. This was true in the case of this survey – readers added questions that perhaps I should have included initially. There’s nothing like the power of the crowd.
A few readers pointed out that the survey didn’t follow protocol. Some questions were probably leading, others may have confused readers. Furthermore, the number of responses from each population may not have been statistically significant. Nonetheless, people from each region answered the same questions and there were enough answers from Boston, Silicon Valley and New York to make the results interesting, if not scientifically accurate.
Lastly, before I share the results, there were a few regions included in the survey, such as Atlanta, Israel and the EU, that didn’t get enough responses to report here. If they accrue more responses over time, I’ll report back.
The Takeaways: Comparing Perceptions of Silicon Valley, Boston and New York
The big picture: The responses to most questions (there are a few exceptions) illustrated less difference between the perceptions of the various regions then one might have expected. If you take the average percentage of respondents answering ‘yes’ to the 7 most interesting questions (the ones which I’ll discuss in this post), NY, the Valley and Boston averaged 74%, 77% and 84%, respectively. That’s a pretty tight clustering given the sample size. This is a finding in and of itself as it could suggest that the banter in the blogosphere and conference circuits about the relative attractiveness of the various startup regions might be more hype than reality.
Entrepreneurs love their hood: Consistent with the big picture takeaway mentioned above, there was a very positive and consistent response to the question “Is your region a great place to start a company?” Despite the variances across a few of the questions I’ll describe below, about 90% of respondents from all three regions answered ‘yes’. Whether this questions appealed to the regional loyalty of the entrepreneurs or it indicates that the negative marks that the entrepreneurs gave their region in other categories receive less weighting in their evaluation, entrepreneurs from all three regions appear pretty happy to be based where they are.
It’s easier to find mentors & partners in New York & Boston: The respondents indicated that it’s easier in NY and Boston to find mentors or partners for your startups. Note that respondents from the Valley do still give the valley a pretty strong overall rating on this front – 75-80% of respondents indicated that they could find mentors and partners, respectively. A hypothesis – the relative shortage of mentors and partners could be from the relatively higher population of entrepreneurs in the Valley. Finding mentors and partners could be easier in regions where a smaller percentage of the population is starting a company.
Finding engineering talent is easier in the Valley, but not difficult in Boston & New York: While all of the respondents from the Valley indicated that they could find engineering talent, >85% of respondents in both Boston and New York claimed they could find engineering talent in their region. I suspect as the startup ecosystems continue to proliferate that gap will increasingly close over time.
Boston perceived to be the most affordable region; New York and Silicon Valley on par with each other: 80% of respondents from Boston felt that their region was an affordable place to start a company (taking rent and labour expense into account). While both New York and Silicon Valley were a step down from Boston; receiving only 42% and 47% of respondents saying each region is affordable respectively, it’s good to hear that New York is considered on par with Silicon Valley. With often less expensive startup engineering talent and startup hubs in low cost parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, this poll (albeit limited in its scope) supports the viewpoint of many New Yorkers that choice between starting a company in New York and Silicon Valley shouldn’t be based upon cost.
Perceived shortage of capital in New York – investors flocking: When asked “Is finding early stage capital appropriately easy in your region?”, 60% of respondents from Boston said ‘yes’, 53% from Silicon Valley and 44% from New York. I interpret this metric to speak to the relative shortage or surplus of capital. While the Valley has lots of capital it also has lots of entrepreneurs – the demand for capital may outpace the supply. Boston also has a relatively established venture capital industry, but may have a relatively less developed startup ecosystem. If there is less competition for term sheets, money is easier to come by. As for New York – it’s not surprising to hear about perceptions that capital is harder to come by. The venture capital industry here is trying to keep up with the rapidly developing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The shortage of capital has already attracted at least a dozen firms from the Valley, Boston and beyond.
Founders pick the home for their startups based upon a lot of different reasons including personal/ family considerations, existing business ecosystems and networks. While there are arguably pros & cons to each of the regions evaluated here, my big take-away from this poll was that perception that Silicon Valley, Boston and New York are all pretty good places to start a company.
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