Anyone living in San Francisco with a startup? how is it like?
From my experience, i would certainly say, its a good idea to move to SFO.
I am here in USA/BayArea living for past 4 months going around meetups, conferences, job fairs, hackathons, talking to many software engineers working in startups. The whole point of this writeup will tell the culture and eco-system around it.
On my first travel to SFO from San Ramon, my cousin dropped me at the nearest BART station. Took the ticket and stood on platform, that is around 9AM. I can see many young nerds kind of people waiting for the train, with laptops in hand and browsing on phones. After a while, got into the train. On my left side seats, a young person, aged around 25 opened a loptop, browsing through the meetups, checking the investor kind of people there, copy & paste their name into google, open the link in LinkedIn and sending requests. All i can guess from his working style, he must be a startup person, working from garage, using commute(on the way to meetup) to make right connections, to take his idea to next level.
After 15 minutes, at a next stop, a young beautiful lady boarded and sat right besides me. Without wasting any time, she opened a 5 page printed hard copy of a document and started underlining the lines in it. I got curious and looked at it. Its an investment proposal by a well known startup to google ventures. The startup is about connecting the home service/repair/workman people to the house holds. By the time, she finished off going through the document, she got down at a stop in SFO.
In an hour of travel on a work day, i saw both sides of working styles, the entrepreneurs and the VCs on my way to the city. I realized, this is the place, one should live and make their dreams happen. This is the american dream happening right besides you.
I see, its a very very expensive place to live in. Much more expensive place compared to what i have seen in London. However, at the end of your startup experience, its worth it.
One can easily connect to the VC community here. You may had to spend 100 bucks or more to get into those places and pitch your idea. At least that opportunity exists here, right immediately, when you are ready. In places like, Bangalore, London, its hard to find the ways to means to find those VCs.
I am waiting for coming weeks TechCrunch event, happening here in SFO. I am guessing, all those next google/facebook's will be there showcasing and pitching their products. You can get to know the whole world technology landscape and direction of the industry at one place, in a matter of 2 days. Such is a lively place here for startups, tech companies, and ofcourse as you know, all big companies and the brightest of the engineers will be hanging around here in bay area discussing about the possible next big ideas.
I did a startup here in SF before the costs of being here became so high. The reasons for being here include the startup ecosystem, particular access to funding and the large community of people with startup experience. Others have noted some aspects of the downside, particularly competition for talent with higher salaries and staff turnover, and exorbitant rents for housing and office space in SF and other desirable nearby locations. If you are already in a very expensive location, it then becomes more of a personal issue for you and your co-founders.
Trying to move everyone can be highly disruptive, with many people unwilling or unable to move. If you are coming here from another country, you also have to deal with visas and immigration, as well as the dysfunctional American health insurance system. So you need very strong reasons to make it a worthwhile choice.
Many startups have found that it is useful to have a presence here, and create a small office for sales, marketing, and biz dev, while leaving the engineering and product support elsewhere. As your company grows, you may add more and more of your staff here.
Marcus, I would be curious to know more about your company. Despite some who try to answer your question in absolute, to put it bluntly they are not in a position to say a move to san fran is good OR bad mainly because you have not provided any details about your company. Again, as I have stated in the past, people on these forums love to talk more than listen and ask questions (though a couple here do). If you have created a business plan, that will lead you to some of your answers.
From your marketing section, you can evaluate-Who is your target market? Are they centered in San Francisco?
From the finance section many questions can be answered-What is your operating budget?..projected burn rate...do you have investors presently? Are you looking for investors...?? How would a move to SF support the overall operation.
It is true some parts of the country will be more supportive of various entrepreneurial endeavors. BUT if you have something truly revolutionary in terms of Tech...(wifi sharing..company..not sure how that is a first, but perhaps you have a new spin) then my more pressing question would be-Can you protect your patent?
Who is on your board? Who is the lawfirm representing you? I would be more focussed on that first before moving anywhere. If you are wanting to build organically, can you do it? or is a better strategy to connect to a larger established company before they reverse engineer whatever idea you have and create a better one under their billion dollar banner?
So again, is a move to SF "better" than where? for what kind of business? If you do move one thing is for sure, you are choosing perfect weather! cant go wrong there.
San Fransisco is a great place , it has one of the best Ecosystem for startups in the world ,so the chances of a startup thriving are certainly higher, given certain conditions.
But if a founder is ready to relocate or move to a new place then having an open mind would certainly help them to take a better decision.
On a personal note if I were to choose a location then I would priorities Customers over Ecosystem.
Customer oriented location advantages-
- Having a direct interactions with your customer is always great at early stages.
- Bigger market size is always appreciated which translates to bigger customer base and better customer retention.
- Eventually grow your business.
Be customer centric.
San Fransisco / Silicon Valley is the cradle of innovation, if you move here you'll deeply appreciate,
1) The way failure is accepted and even perceived as pre-greatness.
2) A culture of openness and extremely progressive people who truly believe that technology can change the word one app at a time.
3) Extremely targeted contacts, your co-founder or the developer that you have been trying hard to recruit to scale your startups is only an developer meet-up away :)
To get a visual idea of how it feels about moving to SFO, do watch this video on YouTube.
Good luck and Rock on!
Depends on the business model, I am not living there but I have some clients from there, What type of startup you would be launching there?
Very good question: We are currently here to find this out presenting www.eventerprise.com in a leading accelerator for 3 months. The cost of living in SF have reached an ultimate peak and making it not easy to get a whole team swiftly relocated plus its perhaps not the best thing to do because its not scaling. Cost for good developer ranging between 130 to 160K p.a.
Marcus, in plain terms if you're talking a tech startup, no. While you have some seeming advantages because there are a bunch of people who are entrepreneurial organizing meetups, peer groups, and whatnot, there's no way that a startup benefits from the exorbitant expense and competition for talent in a city like San Francisco, Austin, NYC, etc. The premium to hire and retain talent alone makes it a bad choice.
The cost of living is extraordinarily high. With lots of local opportunities, employees are less loyal. And unless there was a critical reason that you needed to be physically close to local customers, San Francisco (like other expensive cities) is a wasteful choice on how to spend startup money.
Stay in Melbourne. Without a highly compelling reason to be in SF, an investor is hopefully smart to object to funding an international relocation to the most expensive city in this entire country.