Top 5 Benefits of Growing a SaaS Startup Outside of Silicon Valley

I’ve spent the last 13 months as Marketing Director for a SaaS company, Ambition, that is based in Chattanooga. Over the last year, I’ve experienced firsthand the benefits – and detriments – that come with growing a SaaS startup not just outside of Silicon Valley, but a major metropolitan area. The purpose of this story is to help you better understand what those benefits and challenges will be, and how to use the former to your advantage while mitigating the latter.
Want to grow a SaaS startup beyond the Valley? Here are 5 reasons you should – and also several warnings of what you’ll be up against.

Pictured: Ambition Founders, Brian, Travis, Jared, & Wes (from left)
Some quick background specs on Ambition. Our four co-founders spun Ambition out of two previously failed startups in February 2013. After launching with a team of 6 engineers, plus one graphic designer, they slowly, steadily began building an enterprise software that could best be described as “Fantasy Football for Sales,” at its initial stages.
Ambition was accepted into the W14 Y Combinator batch and graduated in March 2014 near the top of our class. Against the strong urging of numerous investors and SV bigwigs around that time, our cofounders opted to keep the company here, rather than move it to the Valley.
It’s (mostly) worked out. As of June 2015, Ambition is gaining traction as a sales productivity and analytics tool used by the likes of Dropbox and Berkshire Hathaway-company Clayton Homes, the latter company becoming the subject of an effusive Harvard Business Review article about Ambition. We’ve scaled our team to 18 members, including 6 engineers, 2 data scientists (one a Harvard Ph.D in Atomic Physics with stints at MIT and NASA), and committed Marketing, Sales and Customer Success teams.
In the process, we’ve faced the ups and downs that come with being a SaaS startup outside of Silicon Valley. First, let’s go over the top 5 benefits.
Top 5 Benefits of Growing a SaaS Startup Beyond Silicon Valley
In no particular order, here are the 5 most pivotal benefits we’ve enjoyed as a SaaS startup based in Chattanooga.
1) Low burn rate.
Here in Chattanooga, we operate at roughly one-fifth the cost it would take to run Ambition in San Francisco and the surrounding area.

Pictured: Death, a non-optimal result.
That tweetstorm Marc Andreessen went on awhile back about how high burn rates are going to spell the deaths of numerous high-profile SaaS startups in the near future? Not applicable to Ambition. Granted, this benefit isn’t so much about operating outside of Silicon Valley as it is operating in an inexpensive metropolitan area.
Launching a SaaS startup based in Manhattan? Good luck. Launching one based in Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, or Detroit? You’re in much better shape.
2) Minimal employee turnover.
Our total employee turnover — including terminations and employees who’ve left for other companies — is 3. That’s over a total of 27 months.
Pictured: Pray it’s no one from the UX team.
When you’re growing a SaaS startup, the ability to create office continuity and attract and retain top talent is a huge blessing. It’s much easier to source great candidates in Silicon Valley, to be sure, but it’s also much easier to lose them or go broke trying to keep them at your company.
Of the 3 employees we’ve lost, 2 were let go and 1 left for a Cofounder/C-Level gig at a new startup. After 27 months, our employee loss ratio of less than 5 percent. Meanwhile, we still have all of our core engineers, which has been a big reason we’ve been able to build an industry-leading product in such quick fashion.
3) Only gig in town.
Growing a SaaS startup outside the valley – especially if you’re in a smaller market – has the major additional benefit of being the only gig in town.
How’s that a benefit? The War for Talent is less World War II, and more Gulf War I. Two examples we’ve experienced firsthand at Ambition.
Exhibit A. Our top Data Scientist, Rob deCarvalho, is a Harvard Ph.D in Atomic Physics with backgrounds at NASA and MIT. As goes without saying, Rob is an incredibly valued member of our team and huge asset to any SaaS organization. And he reached out to us. The reason? His wife wanted to move back to Chattanooga – and after doing some research, Rob informed us that we were the only company he wanted to join. Our co-founders couldn’t offer him quickly enough.
Exhibit B. Our Director of Customer Success, Caleb Williford, is a veteran of two Silicon Valley SaaS companies, Salesforce and IntelliTrans, who also came to us because he wanted to return to East Tennessee, and saw Ambition is the top gig in town.
4) No hype/distractions.
Living in a quiet, small town like Chattanooga naturally improves employee focus.
While there are plenty of fun things to do in Chattanooga – hiking, nightlife, etc. — and a growing, tight-knit startup community, this is about as far from the Las Vegases, Miamis and yes, Silicon Valleys from the world as you can get.

Pictured: How your employees will look after an all-night trip to the club and/or Hack-a-Thon.
It’s a hype-free zone, which means fewer egos, fewer distractions, and the absence of the “We’ve made it” sensibility that afflicts many employees in the Valley. The biggest thing afflicting Ambition employees is a propensity to work around the clock, to the point where we have begun strictly enforcing an annual time-off policy.
5) Chip on the shoulder.
Dovetailing off the last point, Ambition employees work extra hard and push ourselves to go the extra mile because of our location. Because we’re not in Silicon Valley, we feel like we have to fight for every ounce of industry and public respect we can get. There’s a deeply-rooted need to prove ourselves that drives our whole team.
And 4 Challenges of Growing a SaaS Startup Beyond Silicon Valley
Growing a SaaS startup outside of Silicon Valley hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine. I’d counterbalance the above benefits with the following challenges that our team has faced.
1) Geography-based VC skepticism.
Not as big of an issue if you hail from Boston, New York, L.A., Atlanta, Seattle, Salt Lake City, or some other startup hub, but definitely something to expect if you’re headquartered in a non-traditional startup city.
2) Significantly fewer networking opportunities
As our CEO has noted, the great thing about Silicon Valley – and the reason every SaaS founder should attempt to spend some time there – is the incredible opportunities for networking. Whether its sourcing new talent, meeting a pivotal new VC, or talking with an industry expert who can give you the next big idea for your product, coffee meetings in Silicon Valley are always ripe with potential.
This is a value-add unique to Silicon Valley — as much talent as there is in New York, LA, etc., no city has the condensed ecosystem of talented and connected players in the SaaS landscape.
3) Customer scarcity
This is an underrated benefit of growing a SaaS company in Silicon Valley. SaaS companies tend to be early adopters of up-and-coming SaaS startups, with VC’s and industry connections sourcing new prospects and facilitating face-to-face meetings with decision makers.
Here in Chattanooga, the lack of viable customers in immediate area makes selling more difficult. We often have to close deals without the benefit of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect and closing a major new client face-to-face typically requires a plane ticket or daytrip to nearby metropolitan areas Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta and Birmingham.
4) Prospect skepticism
How innovative can a tech company based out of Chattanooga be? I haven’t been asked this question directly, but I’ve heard it in the voice at the other end of the line on many prospect conversations we’ve had.
Many of our prospects couldn’t even point out Chattanooga on a map – which is why their eyes always bug out when we tell them we have an ex-Google CTO, a Harvard physicist in charge of our data science, and a published endorsement from the Harvard Business Review verifying Ambition’s effectiveness.
No one in Silicon Valley has that problem. The smaller the city you’re headquartered in, however, the more you’ll have to account for it in your sales and marketing efforts.
Achieving Success Beyond Silicon Valley
All that, and I’ve just scratched the surface of this topic. If you want an authoritative text on the subject, I highly recommend Mike Belsito’s Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of Us.
Achieving a SaaS startup success outside of Silicon Valley is a difficult task – it’s also far from impossible. Just look at major success stories such as HubSpot (Boston), SalesLoft/Mailchimp (Atlanta), Cirrus Insight (Maryville, TN/Los Angeles), and Domo (Utah’s Silicon Slopes).
Above all, don’t let Silicon Valley intimidate you. Ambition’s cofounders highly recommend that every SaaS founder makes it a priority to experience Silicon Valley, especially if you can do so via an accelerator. Having that experience will de-mythologize the startup world for you, introduce you to powerful investors and new connections, and leave you with new insights that can help scale your SaaS company successfully — regardless of location.
Image Credit: Flickr/Bryce Edwards

5 Damn Good Reasons to Startup in Chicago

If you’re not from Chicago, the extent of your Chicago knowledge might boil down to deep-dish pizza and “My Kind of Town.” But look a little closer, and you’ll find a thriving technology scene – and some damn good reasons to startup in Chicago. This celebration of the Chicago ecosystem is brought to you by @properties, the leading Chicago real estate brokerage serving both the city of Chicago and North Shore through dynamic marketing and innovation. Read more here!
If you’re a local thinking about an entrepreneurial career, or a non-Chicagoan looking for a place to set up shop, here are some reasons to consider the Windy City.
1. Local success stories
It might not have spawned the likes of Google or Apple, but Chicago has been the birthplace of some great startups – and some great entrepreneurs. Founded in 2004, GrubHub went on to raise over $80 million, acquire four companies – including Seamless – and go public in April of last year. Love it or hate it, Chicago-born Groupon has managed to raise over $1 billion and acquire 33 companies since opening its doors in 2008 – and went public in just three years.
On the other side of the spectrum, Jason Fried’s Basecamp – founded in 1999 as 37signals – has remained staunchly independent. The only investment they’ve taken was from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2006, and their goal is to stay in business for the long haul.
You’ll also find Harper Reed in Chicago, who went from CTO of Threadless to CTO of Obama for America. Now, he’s started his own company called Modest, which offers a mobile commerce platform. From food to productivity to politics, Chicago boasts many success stories to inspire you.

2. The Midwest mentality
Entrepreneurs in Chicago are proud to build solid companies that earn revenue. You’re less likely to come across cool little free apps with no monetization strategy in sight. For the budding entrepreneur, this means you’ll be encouraged to figure out how to survive, grow, and stay in business.

“I think Chicago could be a great place for building bootstrapped companies, long-term companies, companies that are focused on selling stuff, on revenues and profits,” Fried told us. “I think that represents the City of Big Shoulders, that represents the hard-working Midwest, the whole ethos here.”

Other startup scenes focus on “blowing things up fast” and not on making money, Fried said, and that’s a “dangerous, dangerous thing.”
3. Strong community
In July 2006, we held our first-ever Tech Cocktail event in Chicago. Startups were becoming popular, and we wanted to give entrepreneurs a way to connect and show off their creations. Almost 250 attendees showed up to mingle and check out the six showcased startups, including investors, developers, designers, and hackers.
Almost 10 years later, the startup community in Chicago is thriving. You can find support at innovation hubs like 1871, Sandbox Industries, and TechNexus, or get accelerated by Techstars Chicago, Impact Engine, or Healthbox Chicago. If you don’t have an office and don’t want to work from home, you can sign up for coworking at Catapult, CoLab, Grind, Industrious, Platform Coworking, WeWork, or one of the many other spaces around the city.
According to AngelList, there are over 2,000 startups and about 750 angel investors in Chicago. Many of them come out to the multiple startup events that happen every night (see Built in Chicago’s events board). Startup Institute Chicago also hosts events to help newcomers find out about the Chicago startup scene and find a job at a startup. Many of the local colleges – including Loyola Chicago, DePaul, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago – have entrepreneurship programs to expose young people to the field.
And every year, more than 10,000 people from around the country gather for the Techweek conference. There’s no shortage of support organizations, places, or events to help you in your startup journey.
4. Support for women
According to one survey, Chicago has 24% women in its startup scene – below the national average of 29% – and the locals are trying to change that.
Ms. Tech is a collaborative forum of hundreds of women that was founded in 2010 as a simple Facebook group. Now, Ms. Tech holds networking and educational events to help women grow their business, network, and find valuable resources. Other local organizations supporting women entrepreneurs include SimplyBe TV and The Founding Moms.
Many national organizations have local chapters based in Chicago, such as Women in Technology International, Lesbians Who Tech, Women Who Code, Girl Develop It, and Women 2.0.
Chicago women are also willing to speak up for a more inclusive community. When Techweek published what some thought was a sexist ad for a rave party, the community started a dialogue – including this open letter by Built in Chicago CEO Maria Christopoulos Katris. Community leaders will be the first to say there is room for improvement, but at least the issue is on the table.
5. Food and fun
Every summer, Chicagoans come out for the huge Taste of Chicago outdoor food festival. Think deep dish pizza, hot dogs, and so much more – a symbol of the city’s culinary pride.
Deep dish pizza from Giordano’s
When you’re not working, Chicago has tons of outdoor activities to help you recharge and relax. Walk through Lincoln Park or Millennium Park, home of The Bean (a huge mirrored public sculpture in the shape of, yes, a bean). Spend a day at the beach or the zoo. Watch the city come alive with street festivals, parades, and farmers markets. Or just explore Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, from Pilsen to Little Village to Humboldt Park to Greektown and Little Italy. It’s no wonder almost 3 million people choose to make Chicago their home.

Harper Reed image credit: Joi Ito / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Pizza image credit: Eric Chan / Wikimedia Foundation / CC BY-SA 2.0
Bean image credit: Robert Lowe / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

5 Reasons Why Oakland Will Be The Next Big Startup Hub

Oakland is the Bay Area’s greatest paradox. No city in Northern California offers the same dichotomy of third world crime with first-class business opportunity. These days, the trend is heading much more in the direction of the latter. In 2014 Oakland experienced its lowest rate in violent crime in over a decade.
It’s been said many a time that Oakland is the “Detroit of the West”, and that nickname is just as relevant today as it was at the height of automobile production in the 1970s. Detroit is a city that’s been through a lot, to say the least, but it’s also starting to emerge as a land of opportunity. You could say the same about Oakland as well.

Highlighted by Pandora, there are hundreds of startup companies that call Oakland home, and the number keeps rising. Here are the reasons why:
1) Oakland needs business growth more than San Francisco or San Jose, and will go out of its way to accommodateOakland rolls out the red carpet for would-be businesses, including generous tax breaks. If your startup sets up shop in a deemed “Enterprise Zone”, Oakland could give you a credit of up to $37,440 over a 5-year period for every new eligible employee. And it’s not like if you moved your company to Oakland you’d be the only one making that move: there are more than 300 startups in the city now.
2) Tech workers already live in OaklandOne of the great reasons why Silicon Valley spread into SF in the first place was the fact that many workers were adamantly choosing to live in the city. In effect, the businesses slowly started following their workers. Since the emergence of SF’s tech scene this past decade, two things have started happening: rents have become too high for even many area tech workers, and Oakland has seen the addition of hundreds of restaurants, bars, and other amenities to make it more enticing to jump across the Bay. Google and Yahoo busses pick up residents in Oakland for a reason.
3) There’s an abundance of office spaceThere’s some pretty simple math at play here. Oakland has slightly more square miles than San Francisco, and half the population. There’s plenty of room to grow. The neighborhoods near Jack London Square, Grand/Lake, and uptown are poised to absorb more companies, including the now-vacant space where Sears used to be.
4) Oakland tech growth is already happeningAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Oakland metropolitan area (which excludes Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Berkeley and the North Bay) grew its computer industry by over 5 percent from 2013 to 2014. The BLS’s vaguely defined computer industry predominantly includes developers, systems analysts, and technical support roles. The growth is happening quietly, but it’s happening all the same.
5) The costs make the decision easyNot that office space is affordable in Oakland when compared nationally, but it’s infinitely less expensive than San Francisco or the Peninsula. Could be a major reason why Sunset Magazine just announced its move from Menlo Park in the Peninsula to Oakland, where it will likely pay close to $30 a square foot (in contrast to the $50 or $60 you’re likely to pay in Menlo Park or San Francisco).
So what do you get when you combine an educated workforce, affordable commercial real estate, and a town that’s on the rise? The next major technology hub, that’s what.

The DEC Gets a Changeup, Says Goodbye to Jennifer Conley

One of the coolest parts about entrepreneurial life, to me at least, is the level of support people give to others in the community. I don’t know if that’s something inherently special about entrepreneurs, but it’s absolutely something I see every day in my job – it’s beyond awesome.
So, when I heard that Jennifer Conley – cofounder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC), would be leaving I had to pause for a moment. I half expected people to be upset, but then I read what Danielle Abril, reporter for the Dallas Business Journal, said about it.
She writes: “Trey Bowles, CEO of the DEC, has been nothing but supportive of the move”. And that’s when I remembered who I was dealing with: a community – family almost – of people dedicated to the success of Dallas’ tech ecosystem.
These aren’t people who are in it for the money or the quick exit. Rather, they legitimately care about the future of Dallas and one another. Conley’s move, given that perspective, can only be a good thing for the city and local tech ecosystem, and they all recognize it.
“I’m not leaving the startup community, yet I’m embracing it in a new way. Part of the journey involves taking risks and trusting your gut,” Conley explains. “It also means you have to surround yourself with people who inspire you every day, and I’ve been lucky to be surrounding by amazing people.”
Come June 15 Conley will be starting her new role as VP of Communications for Vinli, a Dallas startup that brings a range of apps to your car. Filling her role at The DEC is Lauren Zeien, Executive Director of Launch DFW and an incredibly adept candidate for the job.
“It has been a pleasure to work alongside the startup community building Launch DFW. I credit this community with cultivating me into the Texas startup culture – despite the fact I still do not own cowboy boots,” says Zeien. “It’s been an absolute amazing ride. I look forward to continuing Jennifer’s mission, with my own twists of course, and not missing a beat to keep the DEC moving and shaking.”
To date the DEC has housed hundreds of entrepreneurs and emerging business ventures across two locations. They’ve also made education, mentorship, and community available to anyone who wants to start a business.
At the end of the day a stronger Dallas tech ecosystem means a stronger DEC, a stronger Vinli, and a stronger entrepreneur in general for the city. Don’t expect Conley to stop innovating around North Texas anytime soon.
“It is with great emotion that I leave the organization I helped build, to join a startup that I believe will shape the future of two enormous industries – auto and technology. It is so fun being part of the startup ecosystem and today I step in to a new role.”
Image Credit: Conley’s Facebook page

Startups to Smart Grid: Austin’s Cleantech Economy

Long known as the dot of blue in a red state; Austin, Texas has always been a little more “down to earth”. With an economy with deep technology roots dating back to Dell’s early days and the semi-conductor boom in the 1990s, following the dot com bust in the early 2000s, the buzzwords in rebuilding the technology ecosystem were collaboration and convergence. The question was: how can a city take its core competencies and channel them towards progressive, emerging sectors? Now we know the $2.5 billion dollar answer to that question: doubling down on the Cleantech sector.
Over the past decade, Austin has invested heavily in organizations that provide a strong backbone to facilitate progress in this sector, including the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) at University of Texas at Austin to bolster startup creation and Pecan Street, an initiative that is now the world’s largest smart grid demonstration project. Last week, CleanTX, the cluster development organization for cleantech in Central Texas, in conjunction with ATI and economic research firm Civic Analytics, released its inaugural economic impact study on the region’s cleantech ecosystem.
The results:
$2.5 billion: Cleantech’s contribution to Austin’s regional GDP.
20,000: Direct employment in the cleantech sector.
11.24%: Projected cleantech employment growth by 2020, nearly double the national rate (6.37%), specifically in renewables, smart grid, smart cities, vehicles, water, recycling, and manufacturing.
Counter to its proximity to energy mecca Houston, Austin is approaching the sector with an eye to its distinctive strengths. The report’s authors credit enhanced partnerships between the city, university, industry, and civic organizations for the sector’s growth. Leveraging the presence of entrepreneurial events doesn’t hurt either. The region hosts SXSW Interactive and Eco, the Defense Energy Summit, the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas allows for the convergence of innovation in automotive and transportation, with new technologies given the opportunity to test at the facility. This fall, FORTUNE is launching its new energy conference Fortune Brainstorm E in Austin.
Some of the startup technologies emerging in recent years include Ridescout, a mobile app that shows users how to get from point a to point b via all available transportation options, including car, bus, rail, bikeshare, car share, taxi, carpool, walking, biking, driving, and parking. The company was founded at ATI in 2011, launched in 2013, and was acquired by a subsidiary of Daimler in 2014.
In 2014, Pecan Street opened the Pike Powers Lab, a fully functioning demonstration and commercialization space where companies large and small, as well as researchers, can test their consumer products and new technologies that will be found in tomorrow’s homes and businesses. From the outside, the lab simply looks like a modern, three-story house and blends in with the surrounding buildings in the Mueller neighborhood. On the inside, it is fully outfitted and constantly humming with testing for products including light bulbs, fiber optic sensors, solar panel components, and enhanced electric vehicle charging stations.
“We’ve all known for many years that there’s something special happening here in the Austin area with regard to clean technology, and now … we have proof and facts — really compelling ones,” said Mitch Jacobson, co-director of the Austin Technology Incubator’s clean energy incubator.

Finding the New Flavor of San Diego’s Business Community

Whether I’m talking to friends, colleagues or strangers, I’ve noticed that San Diego is characterized by many stereotypes — the most common of which is that San Diego is a prime tourist destination and retirement oasis with great beaches, tasty Mexican cuisine, and tons of craft beer. You know what? That’s spot on. The quality of life is amazing.
However, there’s a persistent stereotype that really bothers me: the assumption that San Diego suffers from an uninspired, vanilla business community located in a quaint cul-de-sac of America. On the contrary, its military community, premier public and private universities, renowned research centers, and government representatives are working on some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including national defense, cybersecurity, climate change, telecommunications, municipal cross-border collaboration, and genomics.
Innovation is in San Diego’s DNA, and we’re poised to take San Diego’s already robust economy to a whole new level. Historically, San Diego’s prime real estate and pristine environment attracted tourists and retirees, but it also attracted esteemed pioneers. It’s not surprising, then, that San Diego is now host to some of the most creative thought leaders, entrepreneurs, startups, and problem solvers in the nation.
As I type, I believe these ideas are scaling from lab to market. The world just doesn’t know it yet. Soon, though, we’ll all start to notice that San Diego’s signature flavor isn’t vanilla; it’s innovation. That being said, I can’t blame you for wanting vanilla ice cream to accompany your hot December beach day. Think about it.
The flavor profile of San Diego
San Diego houses a wealth of nascent, maturing, robust networks of tech sectors. Recent reports by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation point to major growth in green tech, beer, coffee, cybertech, marketing, biotech, med tech, and defense tech.
If that’s not economic diversification and innovation, I don’t know what is.
Behind this innovation is a strong network of entrepreneurs. Many are locally grown in the region’s prestigious academic institutions, including San Diego State University, the University of San Diego, and the University of California, San Diego. One could even argue that without UC San Diego, Qualcomm wouldn’t exist. The same is true for many of the region’s biotech companies, which are rooted in academia.
San Diego deserves a new taste test
San Diego is a great place for fledgling startups to plant their roots. According to the 2014 CONNECT Innovation Report, 228 new innovation startups (and 885 resulting jobs) were created in the first half of 2014 alone. That’s the most innovation startups created in San Diego in a six-month period — ever.
In such an innovative hub, entrepreneurs have a fantastic opportunity to engage in idea exchange. In fact, a section of downtown San Diego has recently been coined the “I.D.E.A. District.” It’s an eclectic neighborhood with an abundance of digital marketing companies and even a Fortune 500 company.
“There’s a wealth of talent right here in our own backyard,” says Greg McKee, CEO of CONNECT. “It’s also a great place to live, so companies can recruit people here as well. Everyone talks about the high cost of living, but in comparison to other urban areas like New York, San Francisco, and even Philadelphia, the overall cost of living is lower in San Diego.”
And according to McKee, another hidden flavor of San Diego’s innovation scene is the available funding. Let’s face it. San Diego is the Cold Stone Creamery of innovative flavors — just add your toppings and you’ll discover a new flavor you never knew existed.
“We’re a city of doers, creators and cutting-edge innovators who value collaboration to accomplish great things,” says Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. “The irony is that we have been too busy changing the world to really take the time to tell our story.”
That’s about to change, though. From life-changing biotech to wireless technology, San Diego is making huge strides in innovation. It’s time to rewrite the story — and in the city’s signature collaborative fashion.
This spring, National Geographic featured San Diego in its “World’s Smart Cities” documentary series. The Downtown San Diego Partnership is working with the brightest digital marketing minds to find ways to frame our story. And my company is finding its place in this cause as well — whether that means getting involved in a startup tech liaison group or sitting on a board of directors to integrate innovative new business leaders and Millennial disruptors.
San Diego has a rich history of innovation and business success, but it’s finally on the cusp of seeing that story told on a broader scale. I can’t wait for the day that my conversation with a stranger centers not on San Diego’s beaches or breweries but on its vast growth and penchant for innovation. Those are flavors we can all appreciate.

Image Credit: Flickr/Nathan Rupert

Google for Entrepreneurs Brings Galvanize to Campus London

Galvanize has long been focused on education, first and foremost, and in an effort to expand that mission they today announced that they’ll be expanding internationally. They’ll be launching data science courses at Campus London, Google’s startup and entrepreneur hub in East London, UK.
It’ll be the first time that Galvanize has launched outside of the US, and London will be a welcome addition to the list of cities where they already operate: San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Boulder. At current standing Google’s Campus London has more than 40,000 members and prides itself on being a community where anyone can build their startup, learn technical skills, and hone their entrepreneurial talents.
“We have a longstanding partnership with Google and Google for Entrepreneurs that has allowed us to enrich our campuses and curriculum with industry expertise, connections and mentorship,” says Jim Deters, CEO and cofounder of Galvanize. “Bringing our educational offerings to Campus London with this initial program is a natural extension of our partnership.”
A lot of people also consider London as an emerging hub for data science – the demand for data scientists in the UK has increased 350 percent in the past five years, and they make an average salary of £60,000.
“As the UK’s tech industry continues to grow we see a lot of demand for data-savvy talent from both the startup community and the established tech players,” says Sarah Drinkwater, Head of Campus London. “By bringing the Galvanize courses to Campus London, we are adding to our already established learning programmes, including Campus for Mums, which aims to teach people how to turn their ideas into thriving companies.”
Galvanize’s data science courses at Campus London will cover a range of topics, like fundamentals of data science, Python for data analysis, and applied machine learning. Courses will cater to both beginners as well as experienced data scientists, with commitments spanning full day intensives to nights and weekends.
There will also be a series of free introductory workshops and open house events with preeminent data scientists for anybody who wants to learn about the field. There’s also plenty of time to apply for the first data science cohort, or registering for one of these events.
This is absolutely a giant step for Galvanize, who first launched in 2012. According to the team, they’ll be looking to expand their campuses even more in 2015 and 2016, so stay tuned for more news on that front.
Image Credit: Campus London’s YouTube page / Welcome to Campus London

Boston Startup Quorum Wins ‘Live Free in DC’ Startup Competition

Last month, the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership (WDCEP) accepted applications from startups for its Live Free in D.C. competition – a contest aimed at giving one lucky startup the ability to live and work in the nation’s capital at zero cost. Yesterday, it was announced that the Boston, MA-based online legislative platform, Quorum, is the winner of the competition and will move into the District on June 1st to, of course, live free in DC.
Live Free D.C. was a competition initially announced at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) Festival in Austin, TX. According to WDCEP, applicants to the competition were reviewed by a select panel of board members from Accelerate D.C. (the mentor-venture program created by the organization). In narrowing down the winner of the competition, the judges considered several factors. For one, they looked for companies that had long-term growth potential if they were to relocate to the District. They also looked at the age of the startup, their current revenue, history of media exposure, product and market fit, and whether their teams had a sense of commitment. And, of course, they looked at which startups would receive optimal benefits from being located in D.C.
“We applied for the ‘Live Free in D.C.’ competition because it provides us with the space and resources we need in order to continue growing as a company,” said Quorum cofounder, Alex Wirth, in a statement. “The housing and work space as well as the support from WDCEP will help our team to hit the ground running this summer.”
Quorum was founded by Wirth and fellow Harvard grad Jonathan Marks. Through their platform, users are provided with quantitative insights into legislative data, tracking the records of each member of Congress and visualizing their voting history, participation in various committees, and essentially everything you’d ever want to know about our legislators.
The Boston company will live in D.C. between June and August, where they will get the chance to form relationships with community and business leaders, spread the word about Quorum throughout the D.C. community, and get valuable access to mentors and advisors through Accelerate D.C. Quorum will spend the entirety of their time at coworking Canvas.

A Founder’s Guide to the New York Startup Scene [ INFOGRAPHIC ]

Whether you’re just about to start a company or you’re hoping to expand, setting up shop in New York City may be the best logical step for you and your company. Or, maybe, you’re at a point during which your location decision comes down to either Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. Whatever the case, it’s important that you, as a founder, know as much about the New York startup ecosystem before fully committing to planting roots in the city. Thankfully, there’s now a handy infographic that gives founders (and potential founders) a general yet informative overview of the New York startup scene.
When it comes to resources, community, and funding, the New York startup economy comes in second behind Silicon Valley – this is a widely-known fact. With city-backed initiatives like Digital.NYC which aim to provide the city’s tech sector and greater local economy with the resources to help accelerate growth, and organically-developed organizations like New York Tech Meetup that unify the whole startup economy, a decision to startup in NYC essentially becomes a decision to become part of the economical history of our modern tech renaissance.
In the infographic below, you’ll find the most recent stats on the state of venture capital in NYC, the names of prominent accelerators and tech-focused organizations in the city, and even a list of some food hangout spots recommended by New York startup leaders. Here’s the infographic on a founder’s guide to the New York startup scene: