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Do I Have To Move To Silicon Valley?

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 29th 2011

We get this question all the time … to be a successful entrepreneur, do I have to move to Silicon Valley? The answer is not necessarily. The answer is it depends.

The most important answer is that there are many wonderful entrepreneurial success stories far away from Silicon Valley.

Meet Chris Cope, who is about to complete 2011 with a revenue run rate of $5M+. Chris is based in Alabama.

Meet Clate Mask, CEO of InfusionSoft, who has built over $20M in revenue, and raised Silicon Valley venture capital from Arizona at a $36M pre-money valuation for Series A. Clate is based in Arizona.

Meet Marcos Galperin, CEO of Mercado Libre, who has built Latin America’s e-commerce leader to a revenue level of ~$300M a year in 2011. Marcos is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

So, if you forget about the conventional wisdom floating in the air, and get serious about building a business, you can do very well from wherever you are based, thank you very much!

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From my perspective here in Israel, it seems like silicon valley is getting lots of press. This is the place people go when they think they want to make it big. The operative word here is "think" … Israelis have been going to the US, both silicon valley and New York to "make it big". But in reality, there are more successful companies (therefore people) here WITHOUT a silicon valley office. Why is that? Just like Warren Buffet does not need wall street to succeed, so do programmers don't need silicon valley. If you know what you are doing and you know how to do something that will work well, you can do it anywhere. Some say that NOT in silicon valley you can do things a little cheaper, a little slower and maybe even a little smarter (that's what most Israelis think ~ at least that's my perception) Anyway, this is a good hook article, nice way to get attention to your project. Good luck with your work, even though you are ALMOST… in silicon valley 🙂 🙂 🙂

amiv2 Monday, January 16, 2012 at 4:14 AM PT

We are not almost in Silicon Valley. We are IN Silicon Valley. But we work with thousands of entrepreneurs, everywhere from Capetown to Iceland.

Sramana Mitra Monday, January 16, 2012 at 9:10 AM PT

Sramana, thanks for the reminder. You have said this to me before personally, but it's good to hear it again from time to time. The beauty of the Web is that it makes it possible to live in a beautiful place like Maine and build a business with national or international reach. I hope that Wealth Gathering will be on your list of success stories outside Silicon Valley very soon. Meanwhile, thanks for helping make us "outsiders" a success 🙂

Michael Goldman Monday, January 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM PT

Michael, Please read the story of David stone on the blog (now publishing). He is in Portland, Maine, and is yet another great success story outside Silicon Valley.

Sramana Mitra Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:35 PM PT

From my perspective in New Zealand –… – there are many great places to start up. It is also true that Silicon Valley has its own unique appeal and has written history over and over again – no question about it. History alone is not enough to stay competitive though and prominent investors such as Peter Thiel or Max Levchin have openly spoken out on a lack of innovation they've started to observe in the the valley with many people focusing on smaller problems to solve rather than taking on bigger issues – something that may or may not be true.

Personally I think first and foremost one should know oneself well enough in terms of which place brings out the greatest productivity rather than chasing investor $ all over the globe.

Toby Monday, January 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM PT

Silicon Valley remains a vibrant eco-system, and my point is not to dismiss that.

However, it is also expensive, extremely competitive, and in my opinion, today, the opportunities all around the world are phenomenally compelling. If your market, for example, is Indonesia (the fourth largest population in the world), then New Zealand may be a better place to do it from.

And, with Internet marketing, you can market from anywhere …

Sramana Mitra Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:38 PM PT

Interesting question Sramana.

One advantage(?) of not being in America is that you simply must think of your business globally from the beginning. A lot of American companies can get by thinking about designing their products for an American market, eschewing the rest of the world because the American marketplace is so big. Issues such as language, multi-byte character support, date formats, tax legislation, culturally targeted marketing strategies etc are left as unnecessary.

Those of us based elsewhere cannot typically afford this line of thinking – the local marketplace is often not big enough.

The more fertile the environment, the more vertical an entrepreneur can afford to be.

asbp32 Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 12:13 AM PT

A good example is Israel … they have to sell outside their local market. America has been one of them, but now the Israelis are looking at India and China as markets. You are right, that it pushes you to think differently about where to focus, and how to go about marketing your product.

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM PT

Yes you do..without a doubt! The top 1% are here….where else would they want to be???

ChinLee Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 2:09 PM PT

Do you realize how competitive it is for that very reason?

Sramana Mitra Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 7:52 AM PT

I think you should…why? I met more people in three weeks than in two years.
A great post on that is Paul Graham (creator of Hacker News). For those os you who are nationalistic, it may help to know that Paul Graham is British, not American.

john luck Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 2:15 PM PT

I don’t think it has anything to do with nationalism. Entrepreneurship is not a ‘party’. Companies are built by a small set of people working meticulously, building block by block. That is a far cry from going to parties and events in Silicon Valley every evening and ‘networking’. Serious entrepreneurs have to put in a tremendous amount of time in doing very boring stuff. Being in Silicon Valley won’t change that.

Yes, there is a tribal knowledge in the Valley that circulates, and it helps to be able to access that. That’s something we’re making accessible to entrepreneurs everywhere through 1M/1M.

Sramana Mitra Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 7:51 AM PT