The legend of companies like Apple and Microsoft starting in garages may have inspired generations of entrepreneurs to market the Next Big Idea, but venture capital money, technological resources and business opportunities aren't limited to Silicon Valley anymore. With the advancement of office technology, more diversity in office operations, and a stronger opinion among employees as to the importance of lifestyle, other pockets are opening up in the U.S. where startup companies are thriving. Here are snapshots of seven communities where entrepreneurship is thriving.
- Boulder, Colorado. Nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, this hub of highly educated creative professionals is seeded profitably and often by a core group of venture capital firms. Add into that mix the addition of the University of Colorado as well as advanced technology labs like the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Boulder is a hotbed for innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative leadership.
- Boca Raton, Florida. Much like Boulder, Boca Raton's attractive climate and heavy recreational opportunities have drawn talent and money to the area that fancies itself as “Silicon Beach." The beach town vibe is boosted by smart professionals who originally arrived to work at the city's IBM facility and later branched off to form their own companies.
- Santa Monica, California. This relatively small enclave of about 85,000 residents may be better known for its boardwalk and volleyball courts but its proximity to Los Angeles, Hollywood and San Diego Comic Con have made it a wishing well for digital media companies and content producers.
- Bend, Oregon. It may be overshadowed by its punky cousin of Portland and the technology giants that drive the engine of Seattle, but Bend has carved out its own niche, growing its population by about 50 percent in recent years. Meanwhile, its small-town vibe has been enhanced by companies that specialize in technology, biotech and aviation, making it the go-to town for startup operations in the Pacific Northwest.
- Austin, Texas. This town of hipsters, hippies and cowboys may have its entrepreneurial roots in companies like IBM and Dell but it's long since outgrown its more rigid roots. However, a deep based of experienced mentors is helping foster a new generation of entrepreneurs while an active business incubation community based downtown helps provide working space and resources. Finally, Austin's central location makes it easy to access venture capital and resources from both the East and West coasts.
- Raleigh, North Carolina. The area's sports rivalries may draw more mainstream media attention but the co-location of three major research universities as well as an educated, free-thinking population have made Raleigh and its Research Triangle Park a real convergence between technology, funding and entrepreneurism.
- Detroit, Michigan. For the entrepreneurs who are building their startup companies in recession-ravaged Detroit, it's about more than just the bottom line. With the local economy buoyed by Detroit local Dan Gilbert of Rock Ventures, these hometown men and women are working to rebuild their community and provide opportunity for their fellow man.