Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Background: Our startup is a team of 4 young, recent undergraduates that all lived in LA for at least 4+ years before we moved.
You hear it everywhere: Los Angeles is going to be the next Silicon Valley. The press says it every week, VCs are opening funds there, and Hollywood is collaborating a lot more with the LA tech scene for distribution power. While the title of being the next Facebook or Google down there is still up for grabs and tech founders could be considered celebrities there, LA was just not right for us.
So why the hell would a young startup comfortable in LA and already burned through half of its seed investment risk moving up to SF with no network, no guarantee of success, and no safety net?
1) We weren’t in the right industry for LA.
One of the main reasons why we moved out of LA was simply because of the industry we were in (B2B Social Media SAAS). If you don’t know, LA is most well known for the music, video, fashion, ad tech, gaming, and ecommerce industries. So being in a market where very few understand, let alone take you serious for being a young 22-year-old founder, was rather discouraging. Access to mentors or advisors in our space were limited and the customers we were trying to sell to were less tech-adoptive. The best thing to do for ourselves was to be somewhere where we could set ourselves up for opportunities to stay alive and grow, and unfortunately it wasn’t in LA.
2) We got too comfortable.
Being comfortable in a startup is probably your worst enemy. There was a combination of factors that led to us being way too comfortable. I was born and raised in LA. I lived there my whole life and home was only a matter of a few mile drive. Being near home meant there was a safety net, and safety nets are killers of passion and risk. All of our co-founders lived in LA for at least 4 years as well so we never felt out of our element and had a great network there.
That, along with the fact that we worked at an office space where we were the youngest and always the last ones to leave work, resulted in a total sigh of ‘meh’ and comfort. We didn’t feel the pressure because we couldn’t relate to anyone around us. There was no one our age to share war stories with, or vent to so we knew we weren’t alone in our tough journey. We found ourselves slaking off some days and even unmotivated for periods of time. We needed the absolute antithesis to where we were and what we felt.
3) We just wanted to be in San Francisco.
Even though our team had no guarantee of success, no network, and no idea what to expect in SF, we all just wanted to be up here. Maybe it was because of the competitive yet supportive environment we always heard about, or the fact that so many smart founders start their companies here for good reasons. What we did know was that if things did not work out with our product/company (knock on wood), the first thing we’d each individually do is move to SF. I know this may be a very poor excuse or reason, but many of you would agree that being happy and staying motivated is the backbone of a startup. We just weren’t satisfied or felt challenged where we were. So we did something about it.
Now after 2 months living in SF, I’m happy to reflect that our team has been more focused, more motivated, more excited, and closer than ever (cliche but 100% true). And I wanted to share these 3 key takeaways of why we have been better off.
– We started to surround ourselves with people much smarter and more hardworking than we were. There are about 50 other companies in our co-working space and they happen to be people in our age group too. It’s surprising how much of their energy rubbed off to us.
– We put ourselves out of our element and never felt comfortable again. A combination of higher housing rent, lack of network, and the competitive environment made us feel the heat and pressure to just stay lazer focused.
– We went to where our industry thrives. People, mentors, investors, and customers just get what social media software is here and as a result, get just as excited as we are. This led to fortuitous opportunities like meeting amazing founders and getting in touch with companies/potential partnerships only in SF.
Have you ever moved your startup to a different city? What were your reasons? How did it go? Arguments? Completely disagree with what I said? Leave your answers below!