Building Tech Startups on the East Coast @ SocialDevCamp East

As we gear up for SocialDevCamp East in Baltimore on May 10, one of the things that we’d like to highlight is the diversity of Web 2.0 talent available here on the east coast.

The conventional wisdom today says that to make it as a social startup, you should a) move to San Francisco (preferably East Bay or SOMA), b) meet a bunch of cool people (natch), c) get funded (cake!), d) get featured in TechCrunch, e) build your startup to 500,000 users, f) get snapped up in an early acquisition by Google for $90M, g) repeat.

For lots of reasons, the odds of this working are low and getting lower. Why? For one, this is the conventional wisdom; everybody’s doing it, why shouldn’t you? Loads of ditto-heads are creating a glut of ideas. They all can’t win.

Second, VC investments are often a trailing indicator of successful business sectors. VCs follow what has worked previously, which leads to persistent failures at the end of a business cycle. Why else do you think they need to rely on outrageous 100x returns? To make up for their last round of losses.

Why do you live where you do? Family, a partner, school, friends, or do you simply love where you live? There are countless talented people who have made the same choice as you, and they’ve made this choice not as a runner-up to a life of glory in the Bay area. They’ve made the choice as a matter of personal identity and conviction.

As I meet members of the tech business community along the east coast, I hear two things consistently. One, that the Bay area is getting weird these days, and that they are “all smoking the same air.” Second, that the “VC community doesn’t get it here,” and that it’s hard to get funding and launch a web-based startup on the east coast.

Sorry, but we can’t have it both ways. We must choose: do you want to live in the Bay Area and sustain the vagaries of that echo-chamber culture, or do you want to grow where you’re planted and build viable businesses here?

The fact is that we can’t expect to improve the tech startup climate on the east coast if we don’t come together and make it what we want it to be. And that means we need to stop looking over our shoulder at the west coast and start building businesses here and now, using telework, co-work, or traditional workspaces.

The 37signals blog covered this topic today, and reflected many of my opinions on the subject.

This is part of what we want to address at SocialDevCamp East. If we want to have a thriving startup culture here, we need to build it — one relationship at a time.


#1 Telefone VoIP on 04.23.08 at 2:02 pm

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Telefone VoIP, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

#2 Lorne Epstein on 05.04.08 at 5:14 pm

Hey Dave,

Lorne Epstein here and I for one support your vision for a free DC, free to build tech start-ups that don’t get government money, COMMERCIAL baby!!!

I am building a Web 2.0 company and want to foster the DC area as a hot-bed for Social.

Keep up the good work!


#3 MCAndre on 05.05.08 at 9:37 pm

I thought that Telefone VoIP might have been a spammer or some sort. When I went to check it out, the blog had been removed. So maybe it was. It’s weird how spam is so noticeable–grammatical things like “If possible gives a last there” or more likely, garish fonts give it away. In any case, here’s to us checking our comments for junk more often! I like your blog, if possible gives a last there on my blog. Seriously though, good posts.

#4 Dave Troy on 05.06.08 at 3:01 pm

Thanks Lorne! Very much looking forward to meeting you and am thrilled to be doing something to help bring the region together! There are so many talented people here. We just need to tell our story!

#5 Dave Troy on 05.06.08 at 3:04 pm

MCAndre — Yeah, not entirely sure what’s up with that comment. I do some work with VoIP so it’s not impossible it’s sincere, but I agree the comment sounds like some of the recent reports of spam on Blogger…