Okay. Boise, Idaho isn’t really the Hinterlands. In fact, most people are surprised by the arts and culture available here. But, for local web startups trying to raise capital, Boise might as well be on the moon. It’s not that I don’t get the bias. I’ve spent the majority of my career at startups in Los Angeles, Seattle, and the Bay area. Even after we moved to Boise, I continued to work outside the area, in part because my professional network was elsewhere and, in part, I admit, because I didn’t feel there was much of an entrepreneurial culture here. This felt like the place entrepreneurs came to hang with Herb Allen in Sun Valley, ski, or retire.
Last year, my personal passion and jones for the startup juice led me to co-found Social Good Network, a social commerce site that makes it easy to access the brands, causes, and people that matter to you. My partner is a Boise guy and, through him, I’ve met smart entrepreneurs building a variety of web and technology companies here in the Gem State. But, almost universally, they’re all struggling to raise capital.
Sure, there’s no denying that Silicon Valley and a few other startup hubs bring together an enviable list of resources - talent, expertise, spirit, and capital – that create a virtuous circle for entrepreneurs and investors. But it wasn’t always so. People like William Shockley and Arthur Rock laid the groundwork and the Valley built its culture and brand by nurturing ideas and cultivating innovation with a steady diet of money and mentoring. Today, Valley investors place their bets quickly and frequently to keep pace with the market. Tales of angels writing $50k checks after a 30-minute phone call are a stark contrast to what happens when you don’t have a 650 area code.
Good ideas and the ability to execute them aren’t confined to a geographic location. Like many other places outside a metropolis, Boise’s lower cost of doing business, access to talented human resources and, many might argue, quality of life, create a compelling business proposition. And we don’t just grow potatoes here. Albertsons, Ore-Ida, Simplot, and Micron all call Boise home. Balihoo is one successful web technology startup that has planted its flag in Boise, and raised venture capital. But it’s the exception to the rule.
The Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, and even Boulder know that startups create jobs, breed innovation, and have lasting positive economic impact on their cities. They create a culture where companies can thrive, and its resulting in a huge migration of talent and capital. In Boise, and other places like it, we don’t just need access to capital, we need to change the perception and create a value proposition to retain and attract startups and entrepreneurs. We’ve been told that Social Good Network’s valuation could be more than two times what it is if we were based in one of the Meccas. We need visionary investors, civic leaders, and successful entrepreneurs to take a leap of faith. We’re ready and waiting!
- Antonia Chappell, Co-founder Social Good Network