Andrew Chen, a prolific blogger and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, had a wonderful post echoing some of the points I’ve made in the past about the serious but often overlooked drawbacks to starting a company in Silicon Valley.
Now that I’ve been here for a few years, it’s clear to me that the Silicon Valley echochamber has its clear negatives as well. Being out of touch with the average American consumer is one obvious negative. Chasing down technological rabbit holes is another.
Andrew goes on to discuss the downside of peer reinforcement from fellow entrepreneurs and engineers. These conversations often “[guide] the decisions of many employees or investors to dive deeply into the ‘hot’ markets” and leads to copycats who “are only in it to exploit the short-term advantages of the market, and some are self-admittedly not passionate about the area they go into.” This, in turn, hurts the company’s long term chance for success.
One thing I’ve noticed about startup cities like Pittsburgh or New York is that many of the startups there are refreshingly innovative. I mean, just look at the list of recent AlphaLab companies – it’s such a broad mix of companies that are really pushing the envelope in their respective areas.
Fundamentally, we all seek external validation for our ideas – but the fact that there’s less peer validation drives those outside of Silicon Valley to seek that validation from customers and from more introspection. Speaking from my own experience, I know this has led us to refine our offering in ways that we probably never would have arrived at otherwise. my own experience, has led us to refine our product in ways that we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. (Ironically enough, much of this happened while we were in Silicon Valley though).
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can ignore Silicon Valley- after all, we are ultimately competing with it.