Young Tech Entrepreneurs

November 30, 2011: Go North, Young Techie

Yes, I live (happily and warmly) in California, the home of 10 of the 20 most-visited websites, according to a recent article in USA Today. (In case you’re curious, the other 10 are based in New York, Washington and Georgia.) But USA Today also reports there’s a surge of tech startup activity way up north in the land of Paul Bunyan.

USA Today talked to the folks at TECHdotMN, a self-described “passionate group of technology enthusiasts on a mission to serve Minnesota’s high-tech ecosystem and the early-stage ventures within it,” who report there are at least 150 young tech entrepreneurs working to get their startups off the ground.

The attraction for the young techies is the relatively low cost of startup. The newspaper cites the “low rent and low cost of living” as some of the advantages of starting a business in Minneapolis. It notes the success of the four-person team at CrumplePop, a 3-year-old startup that creates special effects for Apple’s Final Cut Video editing program and boasts revenues in excess of $3.75 million. CrumplePop’s rent is $725 a month, which makes up for the need to have sunlamps on their desks to help them get through Minneapolis’ dark and brutal winters. (As someone who lives with a Minnesota native, I’ve learned that brutality is in the eye of the beholder, since the CrumplePop team ride their bikes to work—even in winter.)

I’m not advising you to move to Minneapolis–the last time I was there in winter it was 23 degrees below zero, not counting windchill. But if you’re looking for a more low-key, slower-growth path to success, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” might be the place for you. Jeff Pesek, who runs TECHdotMN, told USA Today that the difference between starting in Silicon Valley and the Midwest is this: “We aren’t [a] flash in the pan. We’re about building sustainable companies for the long term. This is not the place for overnight success.”