By: Matt Ehrlichman Source: WSJ.
It’s an exciting time to call the Pacific Northwest home. We’ve got the Seahawks, the Amazon e-commerce powerhouse and some great early-stage companies promising to transform industries.
While my Seattle upbringing and our amazing summers bias my view, it’s undeniable that Seattle has a special technology scene that often remains under the radar despite its massive growth in the past few years.
This city is a mega-talented hub for innovation. Here are the three reasons why Seattle is the next hot startup ecosystem:
A networked startup community. The infrastructure for startups has been established. Great companies have been built in Seattle and it’s not uncommon to see experienced senior-level employees and leaders trying their hand at creating successful startups. Accelerators like 9Mile Labs and Techstars are making it easier than ever for entrepreneurs with big ideas to make the transition. GeekWire and large local tech events like the Seattle Interactive Conference are bringing the conversation to Seattle’s doorstep. The University of Washington has invested deeply in its computer science program and recently spent $1.5 million to remodel their Startup Hall.
It’s not the Bay Area. Seattle was recently ranked second behind Washington, D.C. on a list of U.S. cities with the most available computer science jobs. There are an astounding 4,300 open positions, but it’s not just tech titans like Amazon and Microsoft that are hungry for top talent. Facebook and Google have come to town, and a large number of startups and early-stage companies are hiring aggressively. Even with that competition for great talent, it is significantly easier to hire in Seattle than the well-known tech center down the coast. The cost of living is less, employees are more loyal and, if you are building a great company, there is plenty of top talent excited to join.
A strong second wave. Seattle’s tech economy seems to have a trickle-down effect. The mega-companies in the region have laid a groundwork allowing the city to develop into an attractive place for businesses to innovate. The “next wave” of great companies is quickly coming up to speed in Seattle – fast-growing startups like zulily and Zillow have had massive IPOs.
Though Seattle seems to be finding its place in the U.S. tech economy, there are challenges on the road ahead. While Seattle has a developing early-stage funding community of angel investors, there aren’t nearly as many venture-capital firms as in the Bay Area. When starting my latest company, Porch.com, I made the conscious decision to put roots down in Seattle, raise our seed rounds from Seattle angels and expand the possible options for our Series A financing to include strategic partners in other cities.
From personal experience, there is a connected and engaged community of entrepreneurs and startups in Seattle that is unlike any other. Will Seattle be able to take on the Bay Area? It’s a tough task, but for now, I’m quite pleased with how the Emerald City is growing into its own.
Mr. Ehrlichman is the founder and CEO of Porch, an online home improvement network.