Over the course of this past week, a few blog posts got me thinking. If you are not one of the major tech hubs of Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City or Boulder, do people have a way to find out what is going on in your city?
Jesse Stay mentioned that Utah has a PR problem. The basic idea was that there are several startups in Utah, but outside of the state, people may not know of the thriving tech community.
A company needs eyes. It is extremely difficult to grow a tech company without the attention of Silicon Valley and the technorati out there. So why is it that we so rarely see Utah companies in TechCrunch, or Mashable, or Gizmodo, or ReadWriteWeb even?
Allen Stern of CenterNetworks posed a question from a different perspective, where should I live next? He limits his options to Austin, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia and Boulder. He even lists some basic requirements:
- Must be less expensive than NYC
- Must have a tech scene
- Must have a good airport – meaning multiple carrier choices
This got me thinking, why don’t we know this information already, and why is it difficult for people to know about the tech scene in places like Utah? Is there a decent list of startups in each geographic area? Each of the cities mentioned by Allen have a good tech scene, but you need to know where to look. Allen did the smart thing and just asked his readers. But what about other people who may not be as “connected”?
For most people in the technical industry, there are a few places you can look. There are the company databases like CrunchBase and TradeVibes. CrunchBase has a map-based geographic search that is easy to navigate. However, this assumes that either someone entered their company name into their database, or they have received TechCrunch coverage in some way. Their competitor, TradeVibes, also has a geographic search that is just like a normal search engine, so you need to know about the area if you want to branch out to suburbs of a city.
In the case of both CrunchBase and TradeVibes, they only give you company information and possibly some news on these companies. But they do not have any reference to the various events or groups that exist in those areas. There is also no link to the various jobs available in those areas.
My next step was to look at the “startup job” sites, Startuply, VentureLoop and StartupHire. My thinking was that people could be looking for jobs in a new area, and this is a good way to find some potential positions. These are just job search engines, but I was hoping that there would be a little more geographic information. Obviously, I was disappointed. They all have a good list of jobs, but there was no other information available.
I am not sure if there is a big money making opportunity here, but there is a definite project that people could start working on. What if there was one site that you could go to and find out what type of tech community it had? The idea is that you could select a “region” like Philadelphia, and there would be groups of links for:
- various startups and technical companies in the area
- social media groups and communities
- local events, meetups and conferences
- “leaders” or people heavily involved in the tech community
- this is similar to Jesse’s desire to promote Utah, or people you may want to know
- it could also be a “who’s who” of the local startup executives
I would love to work on this, but I have enough side projects to occupy my time. I am also thinking that much of this information is readily and freely available using APIs. CrunchBase has an API and TradeVibes has one as well. There are also the semantic enabled sites like FreeBase that could help pull in some more interesting information. The various mapping sites have plenty of geographic API information. The event sites like Meetup and Upcoming have APIs, and you would just need to determine whether there is enough information there to pull in the local group and community information.
Is this a good idea? Is there a site out there already that does most of this? Does location really matter after all? If someone is working on this kind of thing, I would love to hear about it.