Startups in Michigan?

So recently, I’ve been doing a lot of entrepreneury stuff with Thoughtback. My first exposure to the Lansing area entrepreneurial community was at Startup Weekend Lansing. At startup weekend, Thoughtback won the “Most popular” and “coolest” startup. We even got $1000 dollars. The next week, we were in the Lansing State Journal, the State News, and we were interviewed on the radio.¬†All of this because of our little weekend project?

Would we have gotten any of this publicity had we won Startup Weekend San Francisco? No way. There are hundreds of companies in California doing things that are WAY more impressive than what we did with Thoughtback. But these companies don’t really exist in Michigan, especially in Lansing. So we got the benefit of being a big fish in a small sea. So where would I do a startup?

Common sense would say that I should do it in California. That is where the money is, that is where the talent is, and that is where everyone else is. But I don’t think thats what I’d do. I think I might stay in Michigan. Money? Michigan actually has a bunch of venture capitalists. Our new governor actually used to be the CEO for one. Talent? Computer science programs in Michigan are consistently ranked near the top of the country. That leaves one thing that Michigan lacks, and that is everyone else. That isn’t a bad thing though. In Michigan, a startup doesn’t have to compete with the bajillion startups already out there.

I went to a Hackers and Hustlers meeting last week and I asked Zach Steindler, from Olark about why he moved back to Michigan. He pretty much told me it was because he didn’t have the competition that he did out in California.

This confirmed, for me at least, that Michigan might not be such a bad place for a software company after all.

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