Don’t Be The Valley

I was talking to a reporter from The Arizona Republic about the upcoming Phoenix Startup Weekend.  The questions was on the line of

Some business owners here feel that’s the reason why Arizona has had trouble building a thriving technology community with readily available capital and other resources. What do you think?

Which is a great question that almost every tech community I have been to in the last year and a half has had to ask themselves.  Perhaps a look at Atlanta will teach you just how much this is needed, and how hard it is.

But then comes the following question:

Why do you think <city name> is not developing into something like the Silicon Valley.

Almost every reporter I have talked to, from Boston to Greece, has said something similar.

My answer was pretty direct.  It shouldn’t be.

Boulder Colorado

Your community should have it’s own style, reflective of the geographic and cultural norms.  You should grow as big as you can dream.

Brad Feld says about this issue:

Over the years, I’ve asserted that Colorado has no business trying to “be like” Silicon Valley.   There are lots of things that Colorado can learn from Silicon Valley and a lot of them are happening / being created in Boulder right now.  However, it’s a great example of the cliche of “applying best practices” (where Boulder is learning from and applying the best practices of Silicon Valley) rather than strict emulation.

Comparing your tech community to Silicon Valley is like being a horse and watching a unicorn on TV and saying “Wow, it can fly!.”

The Valley has done some pretty magical things.  Amazing things.  They still do.  But the majority of our tech community doesn’t live in the Valley, and doesn’t need to to create or take part in great technology and startups.

Work on building something great.  Work on building something big.

But for the love of the web, don’t compare yourself to a Unicorn, it makes you look just a bit crazy.

Build your tech community.  Value your leaders, your talent, your characters, your friends, your upstarts, your funders, your hecklers and yourselves for being in and building your community.

Put on an Ignite, BarCamp, Startup Weekends, Refresh, MeetUp, TechCocktail, Tweetups, something crazy, create a fantastic local blog or just create your own event.

Build it up.  I love the thought of 40 strong tech communites leading the pack.

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