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3 Surprising Things We Learned from Interviewing Tech Businesses around the Country

3 Surprising Things We Learned from Interviewing Tech Businesses around the Country

Tuesday, November 22, 2016/Categories: small-business-resources

To compile our report "Best Places to Live for Tech Entrepreneurs," we spent more than two months interviewing people with strong ties to tech and entrepreneurship, including…

  • Startup founders.
  • Marketers.
  • Professors.
  • App developers.
  • Executive directors and founders of accelerators and co-working spaces.
  • Project managers.
  • City officials.

After speaking with more than 50 people in 31 cities, we found some recurring themes. In no particular order, here are the three things that intrigued or surprised us the most while creating this report.

1. Accelerators and Co-Working Spaces Are Often the Backbone of a Tech Startup Scene

Nationally, there seems to be a strong correlation between the high number of new tech companies and the increase of accelerators and co-working spaces.

According to an article in the Boston Business Journal, in 2005, there was exactly one co-working space in the United States. One. By 2013, that number had grown to 781 and it continues to climb. Accelerators also grew from 16 in featured in our report house accelerators and co-working spaces together. Typically, once a young business "graduates" from the accelerator, it moves to the neighboring co-working space, sometimes at no charge for a few months.

For example, Emerging Technology Centers (@etcbaltimore) (ETC) in Baltimore includes…

Once an entrepreneur graduates from Accelerate Baltimore, they move over to Beehive Baltimore.

TechTown Detroit (@techtowndetroit) also houses multiple resources, including its accelerator program Labs and co-working space.

For more on these and other accelerators featured in the report, check out "4 Accelerators that Can Help Your Tech Business Get off the Ground."

2. There Really Is an App for Everything

Developers are hard at work creating solutions to life's everyday frustrations. Here are just a few apps and programs designed by the mad tech geniuses we interviewed:

  • Sickweather. Think of it like a Doppler radar for sickness. Sickweather (@sickweather) tracks illness in real time by pulling information from social media. There is also a consumer-facing app that people can use – kind of like Waze for sickness. Sickweather was founded by Graham Dodge and is based out of Baltimore.
  • Utrip. Inspired by the hassle that went in to planning his trip to Europe, Seattle resident Gilad Berenstein created Utrip (@Utrippers). It combines human expertise and artificial intelligence to help travelers plan unique, personal trips. Users simply select a city to visit, enter their dates and budget, and specify the importance of various criteria (history, shopping, nightlife, etc.). Utrip instantly provides you with a customized itinerary.
  • LiveBy. The impetus for LiveBy (@LiveByInc) was a challenge sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in Lincoln, Nebraska. The problem: local realtors found it difficult to provide accurate information about neighborhoods to potential homebuyers. To provide a solution, Cory Scott created location mapping technology that matches people with neighborhoods all over the United States. With LiveBy, you start your home hunt with the right neighborhood, and then search for available houses.
  • GreenPal. Cofounders Bryan Clayton and Gene Caballero of Nashville describe GreenPal (@YourGreenPal) as Uber for lawn care. It allows users to list their yard projects and review bids from local lawn care professionals. Homeowners can book and pay online or with the app, saving them time and money. The app also helps lawn care companies quickly connect with potential customers.

Check out the full report for more up-and-coming tech businesses.

3. You Can Live in a "Flyover City" and Still Crush It in Tech

The two biggest tech regions (Silicon Valley and New York City) may be near the coasts, but we found a surprising amount of startup activity in the Midwest.

Cincinnati is home to multiple incubators and accelerators, including The Brandery (@brandery), which was named among the top 15 accelerator programs in the country. The city is also one of the five metro areas with the biggest startup activity increases in 2016, according to a report by the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship.

We were impressed and a little in awe of Cleveland, too. City leaders have even appointed a Tech Czar. While we don't think the person who holds this office wields any direct power over the city's tech population (or its citizens were too afraid to tell us…), it's pretty cool that they hired someone dedicated to helping the city step up its tech game.

Here are other Midwestern cities that landed on our list:

  • Detroit, MI.
  • Lincoln, NE.
  • Madison, WI.
  • Overland Park, KS.
  • Chicago, IL.

Not quite as surprising, but the importance of community was another common refrain we heard. Almost everyone we talked to mentioned how supportive the tech community is in their city. Many cited how easy it was to network and how others have helped them connect with local business leaders.

If you are looking for a new place to call home, any of the 31 cities in our report offers a community of tech experts ready to lend you a hand.

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