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Top 4 Cities for Startups

Jon Fesmire | July 10, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

The best cities for startups also tend to be expensive. You’ll want to hire top workers, which will cost money. Fortunately, if your business proposal catches the eye of venture capitalist firms, you can bring in a lot of startup money.

While it will cost a lot to live in the four cities we’ve chosen, so look for savings where you can. Self storage is a great place to keep your company’s stock and extra supplies and will save you on office space. You can also save by going as paperless as possible.

Here are the cities that we consider among the best out there for ambitious entrepreneurs.

Boulder, CO

Boulder is a beautiful, tree-lined, sprawling city with pleasant summers and cool winters. While it has a population of just 107,000, the smallest on this list, it’s big on supporting startups.

A few such companies doing well right now in Boulder include Wunder Capital, which is in solar energy management, Let’s Roam, which has a social app with scavenger hunts, and Quantum Metric, Inc., which helps businesses measure customer engagement.

Venture capitalist companies that may be able to help you fund your startup include Sequel Venture Partners, Boulder Ventures Ltd., High Country Venture LLC, and Mobius Venture Capital Inc.

As should be expected, this is a pricy place to live. The median household income is $64,000, the average rent is $1,950 for an 800 square foot apartment, and the median price of a home is $800,000.

Chicago, IL

Chicago is known for its cold, windy winters, but don’t let that discourage you from launching your business here. We’ve gone from the least populous city on our list to the most. Chicago is home to 2.7 million people. There’s a discrepancy between the average rent and average cost of a home here. A 750 square foot apartment will set you back $1,950 per month, but the median home price is just $242,000, which is so surprisingly low that we had to triple check the figure. The median household income is $57,000.

Once you’ve created a solid business plan, you can seek funding with one of the local venture capital firms. Chicago has more than a dozen, including Hyde Park Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures, Midwest Mezzanine Funds, and Venture Connects.

There are all sorts of startups running in Chicago. A few notables include Ascent, which helps companies stay compliant with the law and the business practices of partner companies, Enodo, designed to accurately assess the value of real estate, and Jiobit, which makes sensors to help people keep track of pets and children.

Provo, UT

The second least populated city on our list is Provo, Utah, with 117,000 residents. The first thing to note is that, while it’s more expensive to live here than in an average American city, it’s still relatively affordable. The median household income is $70,000, while $1,400 a month will get you a 925 square foot apartment. As for the median home price? How does $313,000 sound? It sounds pretty good to us.

Skilled workers are attracted to Provo by companies like Novell and BlueHost, but there’s no reason some couldn’t work for you. Local startups include Chatbooks, a photo book company, Filevine, which provides cloud-based project management for personal injury attornies, and Bacon, which provides project-based work for freelancers.

When you’re ready to seek outside funding, contact local venture capital firms like Clarke Capital Partners, University Impact, and Approach Capital Partners.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco is a wonderful city. The weather is almost always pleasant, even when rainy or foggy, there are plenty of unique places to visit like Fisherman’s Wharf or the Exploritorium, and all sorts of people will feel welcome.

While the city is beautiful, the population in this 47 square mile area is huge at 885,000. It’s tough to find parking, even for residents, and apartments are tightly packed. Plus, San Francisco is especially expensive. The median household income of $96,000 doesn’t seem to quite make up for the fact that rent is about $3,700 per month for the average 750 square foot apartment, or that the median home price is $1.3 million. However, if you’ve already launched a couple of successful startups, or you already have a fair amount of your own capital, this may be the ideal place to start your next business.

For additional funding, try a local venture capital firm like Walden Venture Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, 137 Ventures, or Spark Capital. Like Chicago, San Francisco has more than a dozen such companies.

Local startups you may find inspiring include Sift, which helps businesses maximize return on investment and Branch International, which provides a handy mobile financial app. This is also the home of larger, well-known companies like Twitter, Uber, Dropbox, Square, and Pinterest, and it’s full of skilled workers from Silicon Valley.

These cities provide an interesting variety of places to choose from. Wherever you choose to run your business, we wish you luck and success.

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