Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baltimore As a Bootstrapping Paradise

A few months ago I wrote a Startup Baltimore post called Baltimore's Startup Ecosystem. It's almost passe to use the phrase "startup ecosystem" but I didn't know it at the time. I was trying to honestly enumerate the advantages and disadvantages to starting a business here, something I'm now confronting directly with my own venture.
Baltimore’s biggest advantage for entrepreneurs is simply that it is a city, and one of the few places on the East Coast where risk-takers and bootstrappers can afford to live. While it would be a mistake to waste time mimicking other innovation centers like Silicon Valley, it is worth pondering for a moment how a place like Baltimore could compete with a place like Silicon Valley, as described by the essayist Paul Graham (emphasis mine):
"For all its power, Silicon Valley has a great weakness: the paradise Shockley found in 1956 is now one giant parking lot. San Francisco and Berkeley are great, but they’re forty miles away. Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl. It has fabulous weather, which makes it significantly better than the soul-crushing sprawl of most other American cities. But a competitor that managed to avoid sprawl would have real leverage. All a city needs is to be the kind of place the next traitorous eight look at and say 'I want to stay here,' and that would be enough to get the chain reaction started."
Read the whole article here.

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