Author: Richard Florida
Publisher: The Atlantic
Date: October 20, 2011
The United States has been and continues to be one of the world’s great start-up incubators, but with innovation no less than with agriculture, some places are much more fertile than others. What gives some cities and regions such extraordinary creative and entrepreneurial vitality — and what holds others back?
Paul Graham, who is reinventing venture capital for our time, has perhaps the clearest insights into what makes for a successful Start-Up Hub, the term he uses for places like Silicon Valley. He used to look at the external environment for clues. But in a recent essay, he says that the more he studied and the more he lived the start-up life through his own very successful high-tech accelerator, YCombinator, the more he came to realize that a very powerful force of culture was at work. Most places, he says, might as well be sprayed with “startupicide.” Startupicide is what damps down and repels startups and those who would build them. “I could see the average town was like a roach motel for startup ambitions,” he writes. “Smart, ambitious people went in, but no startups came out.”
Startups are fragile things by their very nature — few succeed even under the best of circumstances. What makes Silicon Valley and a very few other places different, he noted, was that their culture contained an antidote to Startupicide — such places embrace an ethos that encourages rather than crushes startups and the broader mentality from which they grow. “The problem is not that most towns kill startups. It’s that death is the default for startups, and most towns don’t save them,” Graham notes. “Instead of thinking of most places as being sprayed with startupicide, it’s more accurate to think of startups as all being poisoned, and a few places being sprayed with the antidote.” Read more here.