As someone who has grown tech businesses outside of Silicon Valley, I can directly appreciate the ‘planting a tulip in the desert’ scenario that can occur when a viable idea is incubated in the wrong place. My first tech business, started in Austin way back in 1997 was a real challenge. While the technical aspects of it were difficult enough, my business partner and I knew that they were solvable. More difficult for us was the burning sense that we had that we were not connected to other people who could help us to grow. The distinct feeling was that we were limited in our reach and our potential success due to the limitations of our network – and we really were. While we were ultimately able to be successful, we know that if we had been in Silicon Valley, and had a richer and more varied network of associates to work with we would have gone further, faster. I recently had a chance to discuss the effects of environment with Victor Hwang, co-author of the book called “The Rainforest”. Victor’s book is a detailed analysis of the power of environment on startup success, and in particular an explanation of why Silicon Valley has been such a powerful incubator of ideas and innovation.
Kevin: “What do you advise for those people who have the skills and the ideas necessary for a successful business, but find themselves in a less-than-ideal environment?”
Victor: “Traditional business wisdom used to say that you should start locally, with trusted advisors, and get products tested and perfect before going out into the big, bad world. The reality today, however, is that a new startup must consider itself part of the global value chain from day one, or it really is stuck in the desert. The greatest economic value is created between people who are the most different from one another.
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