Why Startup Hubs Works

In most places, if you start a startup, people treat you as if you’re unemployed. People in the Valley aren’t automatically impressed with you just because you’re starting a company, but they pay attention. Anyone who’s been here any amount of time knows not to default to skepticism, no matter how inexperienced you seem or how unpromising your idea sounds at first, because they’ve all seen inexperienced founders with unpromising sounding ideas who a few years later were billionaires.

Chance meetings play a role like the role relaxation plays in having ideas. Most people have had the experience of working hard on some problem, not being able to solve it, giving up and going to bed, and then thinking of the answer in the shower in the morning. What makes the answer appear is letting your thoughts drift a bit—and thus drift off the wrong path you’d been pursuing last night and onto the right one adjacent to it.

Both components of the antidote—an environment that encourages startups, and chance meetings with people who help you—are driven by the same underlying cause: the number of startup people around you. To make a startup hub, you need a lot of people interested in startups.

I flew into the Bay Area a few days ago. I notice this every time I fly over the Valley: somehow you can sense something is going on. Obviously you can sense prosperity in how well kept a place looks. But there are different kinds of prosperity. Silicon Valley doesn’t look like Boston, or New York, or LA, or DC. I tried asking myself what word I’d use to describe the feeling the Valley radiated, and the word that came to mind was optimism.

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