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How Entrepreneurs Can Succeed Outside of Silicon Valley Essay

Silicon Valley has long been labelled as the mecca of the startup world. With its long history of entrepreneurs, an infrastructure in place to help small companies thrive and a bevy of resources — talent, investors and networking events — at a young company’s fingertips, it seems like for founders, it is “Silicon Valley or bust.”

But that isn’t necessarily the case. What seems like a startup utopia also has its downsides, including talent wars, high cost of living and a massive echo chamber. Plus, there are obviously companies outside of Silicon Valley — and ones that are a huge success. MailChimp, Sprout Social and Sling TV are just a few big names and up-and-comers.

With the recent tour — a road trip designed to celebrate entrepreneurship across the U.S. — wrapping up, we asked a few leaders in entrepreneurial hubs around the U.S. what advice they have for founders looking to succeed outside of Silicon Valley.

Related: 

Here is what they had to say:

Be fearless.

Image credit: Dundee Venture Capital

Don’t be afraid to tackle any niche. Put all your chips in the middle of the table, put your head down and work hard. There’s no reason to hesitate just because you aren’t in Silicon Valley.

Mark Hasebroock
Founder of
, an Omaha, Neb.-based VC firm

 

Use your community.

Image credit: Greg Stanton

Don’t just work in your city — work with your city. Local government may not seem like the likeliest partner for innovators, but I’ve seen great things happen when entrepreneurs and policy makers are at the same table. Not only are leaders in the civic sector great cheerleaders for startup successes – they’re also advocates when it comes to navigating bureaucracy or regulatory environments that many entrepreneurs encounter. And inside City Hall, we stand to benefit greatly from the ideas of innovators and disrupters in our community.

— Greg Stanton
of Phoenix

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Step up to the role.

Image credit: Women Tech Council

My advice for all entrepreneurs is to focus on developing leadership skills where you learn how to value all of the perspectives of the members of your team, create high-performing cultures and form an attitude that embraces transparency and collaboration.

— Cydni Tetro
Founder and president

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Create with a purpose.

Image credit: Arizona State University

Build a company, service or a thing, because you want to see how it will advance how we live, work or move, and because it’s something you want the world to have in it. Hustle. Be fearless. And become a master learner capable of learning anything, anywhere, at any time.

— Michael M. Crow
President of

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