What’s so special about Silicon Valley, Hollywood or New York?
I’ll give you a hint: bad barbecue.
Just kidding. These are the places you go when you want to build the next “unicorn,” become a big star or bask in the bright lights of Broadway. The dream you often hear whispered backstage is, “I want to go to Hollywood and be a star.”
I recently read a quote by Bill Gossman, an investor and startup veteran:
“Don’t think that Silicon Valley has better entrepreneurs. They don’t. But they have more people trying. They have more crappy companies and mediocre entrepreneurs, but also they have more great companies and people, too.”
The same thing could be said about Hollywood, New York or these other Meccas that draw concentrated pools of talent who want to perform. When you want to “get discovered” you migrate to places where your chances of success increase. You retrace the expert’s footsteps in order to create success for yourself.
But instead of moving, I believe we should borrow the concepts from these places and bring them back to our hometown: Kansas City.
This past November, I attended a growth event in Silicon Valley designed to help entrepreneurs at the critical early stage. It was a packed program, loaded with a wealth of information compressed into two crazy days.
Attendees with the guts to join the standing-room-only crowd is entertained, educated and better connected as a result. The speakers are a list of who’s who from thriving companies we all know. And they are not afraid to remove the gloves and punch the audience in the face with the reality of what it takes to build a successful startup today
Traveling outside your bubble is the best education
The insight you gain by venturing outside the comforts of your bubble is decidedly better than just reading a book. In the tech world, things move fast and information locked inside a book is inherently old and may no longer work in the entrepreneurial climate. The same can be said for podcasts that often regurgitate old hacks that spurred growth in the past, but no longer work today. Your startup needs the latest and greatest — it needs real-life, real-time updates.
Staying informed with resources readily available to anyone is the bare minimum. It’s not enough, so I travel to the edges of technology where the best tactics are actively tested on the battlefront and then implement them into my own business. When you’re inside your bubble, certain ideas are months or even years away from you. Travel provides your Midwest startup a strategic advantage and your location provides the space needed to use these techniques in a less competitive market.
Kansas City: A great place for a bubble
From the outside looking in, Silicon Valley seems magical. But once you’re in the Bay Area you’ll witness the carnivorous nature of the environment — the mantra is to outhustle your competitors before they outgrowth hack and then hijack talent. The romance will wear off and you’ll quickly realize the script for starting a company is all about fancy techniques to get traction before you die on the cutting room floor.
What’s so special about Kansas City? We have great people building great companies – it’s just done on a smaller scale. One advantage of bringing back great ideas and implementing them is that you can magnify their impact and increase your possibilities of success.
So go ahead, take a step outside of your bubble, work towards your dream and allow yourself to say, “I want to be a star in Kansas City.”