How Tech Entrepreneurs Can Excel Outside Silicon Valley

Image credit: David Kozlowski | Getty Images

Andrea Huspeni

Not every entrepreneur has the luxury of living in Silicon Valley. From the high cost of living to talent wars, the epicenter of the startup world doesn’t make sense for every founder. And that’s OK.


As more communities across the country embrace the entrepreneur lifestyle and remote teams become more common, startups are flourishing outside Silicon Valley, including Dallas. During Dallas Startup Week, a conference taking place from April 3 to 7, we asked local entrepreneurs what advice they have for people not in a big startup hub on how to make it.

Related: 4 Strategies for Building Your Community Instead of Just a Network

This is what they had to say:

See how everything relates.

“Meet the people in the city. Make the cultural and business zeitgeist your focus when getting involved. Understand the entrepreneurs, the infrastructure, the investors and the companies you can work with and understand what motivates these various groups and how you fit within them.”

Ben Lamm, CEO and co-founder of Conversable, a conversation platform

Related: The 4 C’s Needed to Build a Strong Startup Community

Find the advantage.

“Cities, like businesses, have competitive advantages that entrepreneurs should identify and leverage. In your market, what are the top programs at local universities? What sorts of businesses get funded? Who are the strongest companies in the city and what type of professional skills drive the place? How supportive are policies, community groups and the public towards entrepreneurs? Your market will send signals about what works best locally, so make sure you’re on fertile ground for growing the business you’re envisioning.”

Nathan Hanks, CEO and co-founder of Music Audience Exchange, a platform for artist and brand partnerships

Stay connected to the major startup hubs.

“Stay loosely connected to Silicon Valley and New York City. Whether it be through investors, advisors or flying in to attend events or press interviews, it’s important to know what’s happening in terms of innovation trends, company valuations, resources and recruiting in these geographies that are leading the way. We make sure to carve out a few trips every year to San Francisco and New York to ensure we’re keeping the pulse of what’s going on there.

“Outside of these hubs, make the most of the better price of real estate and create a competitive office space to recruit top talent. This lower cost of running our business in Dallas allows us to invest more in culture by providing weekly breakfasts, various company outings and health and wellness stipends for employees. It would be difficult to make all these perks work with the cost or real estate and talent in San Francisco and New York, so do what you need to do to recruit the best of the best in your geography.”

Carly Nance, co-founder of The Citizenry, a marketplace featuring goods from around the globe

Related: 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Endear Themselves to the Community

Partner up.

“Partner up with your local visitor and conventions bureau as they have remarkable relationships with businesses in your city, as well as new businesses that will be coming soon. Here in Dallas, for example, our simple partnership with the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau has opened up so many doors for the Make Your Life Sweeter brand within Dallas. This past weekend, for example, our partnership with the DCVB helped us gain The NCAA as a new client, where we were hired to do all of the gifting for the NCAA Women’s Final Four competition.”