Advantages of an East Coast startup, Part 1

Much has been written recently about the differences between the entrepreneurial environment on the East Coast (Boston/New York etc) versus the West Coast (Silicon Valley). I’ve lived on both coasts, and worked in the tech industry on both coasts.  And now I’m starting a company here in Boston. I think that gives me enough knowledge to write some intelligent things on the subject.

Dharmesh Shah wrote a memorable post on the subject at the end of last year. A few months later, he followed up with a post about how Massachusetts was ranked #1 in a recent study about the new economy. I remember reading the first post with a bit of sadness — in some ways Dharmesh was waving the white flag to Silicon Valley. But he had valid concerns: it simply does take more time to raise money on the East Coast. I’m glad he followed up with a more positive post about the advantages of starting a company in Massachusetts.

There’s been a bit of a firestorm after Scott Kirsner’s post about the Y Combinator event this week. Don Dodge wrote a roundup of the event with a list of the people who attended. And Mike Feinstein called for more adventurous Boston VC’s to step up to the plate. I couldn’t agree more.

As a startup guy in Boston, I think the attention on this subject is a good thing. We need more advocates on the East Coast. I’m particularly psyched that Scott Kirsner has moved back to Boston– he has the knowledge and the platform (he’s a writer for the Boston Globe) to ask these hard questions.

My wife and I lived in Silicon Valley, and we’ve lived in North Carolina (Chapel Hill), and now we live here. And we like it here. We’re not moving anytime soon. So I’d like to take a different path on the issue– this is the first in a series of posts where I’m going to try and articulate all of the *advantages* of being an East Coast startup.  We’ve been pretty successful so far with And I think some of it has to do with being based on the East Coast.

I’d like to start out with a simple advantage about the East Coast– our weather isn’t as good as Silicon Valley. Why is this an advantage? Let’s take today as an example: it’s raining, it’s gray out — a perfect East Coast day. And you know what? I’ve been more productive today with the rain than I am on days with bright sunshine. I get asked often”how are you Punchbowl guys so productive?” I think there is a combination of reasons: we’re laser focused, we have best-in-class development process, and we work well together as a team. But I give some credit to the weather: these kind of rainy, gray days are great for cranking out a ton of work. 

I don’t have any scientific evidence, but I can tell you that I have personal experience: bad weather days are great for productivity. And the East Coast has winter– many, many bad weather days strung together. We launched in the middle of January– after weeks of blissful, productive winter days. In my experience, East Coast development teams are very productive in the cold, snowy winter months. Advantage: East Coast.

I’ll post periodically about more advantages of starting a company on the East Coast. I believe that will be a success story — and I believe our location on the East Coast is a significant advantage. Stay tuned for more examples.


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