Can startups succeed away from Silicon Valley?
With its sheer collection of angel investors and venture capitalists, there's no secret why young startups often make the move out West.
But is moving out to Silicon Valley a necessity, especially when startups want to secure startup financing?
A move to Silicon Valley isn't mandatory. It's actually possible for startups to succeed in other parts of the country if they play their cards right.
Share and act on goals
Investors want to see big ambitions from startups. And by big, we're talking "swing for the fences" big. Silicon Valley is home to other unicorn startups - Airbnb, Dropbox, Snap - that are all valued over $1 billion and have global aspirations.
In order for your startup to succeed away from Silicon Valley, you need to have ambition and show investors how it's possible to grow. According to TechCrunch, detail aggressive goals to investors and how you'll meet them. If your goals are big and you display a commitment toward meeting those targets, VCs are more likely to take notice.
Building relationships with VCs is essential if your startup is located outside Silicon Valley. While it's tougher to build VC connections if you're in Atlanta or Chicago, it's definitely doable. Be aware though you'll likely need to head out West on occasion.
To build those relationships, you'll need to do some research. Develop a list of additional VCs that usually invest in the tech area your startup is specializing in. Keep in mind some VCs only prefer to invest during Series A funding rounds, while other are more active in Series B. This information - found at crunchbase - is important so you know who to contact first.
Now it's time to set up informal meetings that last no more than one hour. Keep the conversation professional and meet with as many VCs as possible and eventually, these will turn into formal meetings. You need to develop these connections if you want to have successful funding rounds.
Emphasize your customers
Your success or failure will depend on your customers. If they're happy and the userbase is growing, you can build a strong case for more funding. Customer satisfaction takes on a bigger role if you're outside Silicon Valley because it indicates success to VCs.
Lay the groundwork during informal and formal meetings with VCs by emphasizing happy customers. Highlight how your product or service is irreplaceable for many and provide contact information if a VC requests it.
"Swipe right" on the right VC
You're not actually swiping right or left on VCs like you would on Tinder. But you do need to find the right VC to match with if your startup is to succeed outside Silicon Valley.
You need to pair with VCs that offer funding and believe in your vision. Don't partner with a VC that isn't 100 percent sold on your business goals simply because they offered millions in Series A funding.
If you're running a startup outside Silicon Valley, you need to work hard to succeed. Dream big and focus on building relationships with VCs in order to secure funding and one day, unicorn status.
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