3 Great Cities to Launch a Startup
Entrepreneurs need to consider an overwhelming number of decisions when launching a startup company. One of the earliest decisions you need to make is where to launch your startup. When considering location, keep these major factors in mind:
- Business resources and culture
- Regulations and taxes
- Cost of living
- Availability of funding
- Quality of life
We’ve gathered three cities that score highly in all the areas above, making them great places to launch a startup.
“Everything is bigger in Texas” holds true in Houston. Big corporations, big banks, and big oil all thrive. Houston may not stand out for a reputation of entrepreneurship, but several draws have led to a successful startup culture. The most prominent industries in the city are energy and healthcare. Hometown to Enron, Houston has been known as the energy capital of the US. Texas has a deregulated energy market, making for a low barrier to entry for rising companies in electricity or clean tech.
The life sciences and medical fields have large shares in Houston’s economy as well. Healthcare ventures are common and well-supported, with top-notch medical facilities highly concentrated in the region. Two research universities further contribute to Houston’s booming medical field. Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson Cancer Center continue to make significant contributions to medical research in Houston. Now local companies have made recent strides into nanotechnology.
Living in Houston also has its perks. A low cost of living is attractive to entrepreneurs when choosing a home base for their startups. The inclusive city also contains a diverse population; in fact, it may be the most diverse city in the nation. This is good news for companies seeking a wide-array of new talent to build their teams.
The state capital of Texas doesn’t let H-town take all the credit. Austin is a thriving location for technology, multimedia, and B2C (business to consumer) companies, experiencing particular success with Internet startups. Several major companies have come out of Austin, including Dell, Whole Foods, and SolarWinds. The city also hosts the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference for new and emerging leaders in the tech industry.
Local and state initiatives contribute to Austin’s successful startup culture. A strong chamber of commerce made strong efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to bring tech companies to Austin. A major success was the construction of an IBM plant, which brought new clean jobs to the area. Today, they focus on attracting new talent, who start their own companies and contribute to the city’s growth.
Funding for startups is a priority with Austin Ventures, the city’s leading capital venture company, and the state’s Emerging Technology Fund. The University of Texas at Austin also provides a constant inflow of fresh talent entering the workforce. Being the state capital also grants startups more opportunities for international engagement, as the city draws visitors and expats alike.
The entrepreneurial atmosphere of Austin is bustling, but not at the expense of quality of life. You don’t find the intense start-up culture of Silicon Valley, but a city where several successful companies coexist and entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to put their gears on pause to raise a family. The city also boasts a low cost of living compared to other major American cities, putting less pressure on families and keeping costs reasonable for businesses.
Tucked away in South Orange County, Aliso Viejo is a secret startup hub. According to a MIT study on startups and entrepreneurial activity, this city had the highest score in Southern California. Despite living in the shadow of Silicon Valley, Aliso Viejo has thriving biomedical and technology industries, making it a popular choice for startups of the same stripe.
Several large “anchor” companies in the area consistently draw in business and a labor force. Notable tech and medical companies include Quest Software, QLogic, UST Global, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, and Sequent Medical.
Proximity to universities and research centers is another factor in the number of successful startups in a region. Aliso Viejo meets this condition with both UC Irvine and Soka University nearby.
Aliso Viejo also lies in a central OC location with close access to three different counties. Startups in the area can easily recruit talent from LA, San Diego, and the Inland Empire. Aliso Viejo boasts access to America’s most populated cities without the higher cost of living those areas bring. More affordable real estate gives new businesses an advantage they won’t find in some of California’s better-known (and more expensive) cities.