When you’re out on vacation, sometimes it’s hard to think about work or business. Unless you’re a passionate entrepreneur, you will see any kind of opportunity everywhere, even you’re in a tourist mode. Just like this founder who decided to nest in Key West, where he nourishes his thriving business startup.
The Florida Keys is the best place to relax, unwind and forget all your business-related concerns. The place has great beaches, stunning sunsets, and a calming vibe. It’s the most fitting loophole when you desire for a breather from the hustle and bustle of a rambling city. But Matt Gordon, owner of a software studio Expected Behavior, and three of his team’s partners decided to move down to Key West — for business sake.
He’s not alone. Thea Chase, an entrepreneur, is also growing her company in traditionally tourist-centric city. She moved to Telluride, Colorado, and brought her investment and mentorship program there to help startup entrepreneurs. Chase is an ambassador for the community, serving as the Director of Telluride Venture Accelerator (TVA).
“People love to come to Telluride,” Chase said when she was talking about how she likes it in Telluride. This part of the West Colorado, is known for skiing, and some other interesting activities amidst the mountain tops.
“It’s a very magical place,” Chase says of Telluride. “People come and they pause here. That impacts the entrepreneurs, obviously, because when they’re here they’re in a different frame.”
Being Laid-Back is Critical for Success
Chase also talked about the successful collaborations and partnerships she has encountered in Telluride. She believes it’s easier to make connections in the mountains, where the atmosphere is laid back. She said most of her connections took place on the slopes, and she calls her interactions with people as “chairlift moments.”
Another entrepreneur who saw sparkling opportunities in a place where he was having a vacation is the Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh. Hsieh Is one of the reasons why Las Vegas has made headlines as a hub for entrepreneurial activity.
From a banging, touristy region, the city that never sleeps has now built a strong reputation for growing startups.
“Tourism-oriented ecosystems (like Las Vegas) have an advantage in that eventually everyone will come through and generally people are more relaxed so you can really connect with them,” said Frank Gruber, CEO of Tech.Co. Tech Co is a media company, which is also one of the businesses that moved to Vegas after Hsieh invested $2.5 million to ramp up growth.
Places like Key West, Telluride, and Las Vegas may be seen as tourist traps. However, when Matt Gordon was asked about what made him decide to relocate his business to Florida, he said, “It’s very attractive from a hiring standpoint. Nobody is sad about coming to Key West for new employee orientation or a company retreat.”
Gordon grew his 12-person company in Indianapolis, Indiana, where they develop software for Instrumental, Doc Raptor, and Gauges. In 2015, they decided to move to Key West, which where they expanded the team.
“People in Key West are relaxed, happy, and ready to talk in a way you won’t find in a large city,” Gordon said. “The best benefit is morale. Growing a company can be a bumpy ride. If you’re having a rough time, go stand on the beach for 10 minutes. It’s hard to stay sad.”
What Entrepreneurs Must Know for a Smooth Sailing Business
Though, there are given perks when relocating your business to a tourism-centric city, it also comes with drawbacks. Typically, laid-back locations don’t have access to the entrepreneurial resources that you can easily find in a more traditional business location.
“Key West doesn’t have a lot of local technologists,” Gordon said. “If you’re used to strong local tech communities that cities like Indianapolis have, you’re going to need to find that online.”
Gruber confirms Gordon’s story the time he experienced a similar situation while growing his company in Vegas, “Oftentimes, the reputations of tourism-oriented ecosystems prevent people or businesses from more deeply exploring the opportunities that exist… individuals may miss out on interesting jobs or startups, investors may miss out on new companies, and businesses may miss out on lucrative partnerships.”
In addition to, remote locations like Telluride and Key West are difficult to go to. Most of the time, getting in and out of the city can be a real challenge.
“Sure it’s hard to get here,” says Thea Chase. “But once you get here you really relax.” – which, of course, you can never get from churn-and-burn communities like Manhattan or Silicon Valley.
TVA says they usually pulls mentors and investors into their city from around the world. “They might be based in New York or the Bay Area,” Chase says. “But when they’re here they’re chill,” which let entrepreneurs to truly connect, while mentors have their guard down.
Identifying if a “Touristy” City is Right for your Business
For tourist-oriented startups, it’s a no-brainer whether to consider such areas. However, for traditional SaaS or B2B businesses, you might want to learn about the location first. Although you can get mentorship from companies like Telluride Venture Accelerator which has already graduated 3 cohorts of startup, it’s still better to consider other tours.
If ever you take a vacation in locations like Vegas, Telluride, or Key West, set aside ten minutes of your time to research the city’s startup activity. Who knows, you might discover a great opportunity for your venture there, in a place you love. You just need to keep an open mind, and explore.