To inaugurate Founder Fridays, we chatted with our own founder & CEO Bismarck Lepe and picked his brain on emerging tech communities and trends in engineering talent. For context, a recent study by software trade group App Association found that 89% of software developers in the US live outside of Silicon Valley, and job openings are following suit.
Bismarck, what are three domestic tech hubs you see becoming increasingly important in terms of engineering talent and innovation?
Los Angeles, Chicago and San Diego. Primary reasons for these three is that they have a significantly lower costs of living (when compared with San Francisco), yet they rank in the top 10 in terms of venture capital investment. These locations also have large populations, a high concentration of young people and an abundance of universities and tech-oriented private industry.
As a growing tech community, what do you think it takes to be successful?
Assuming you have the necessary talent that understands how to solve a worthwhile business/market problem with technology and the commercial talent required to take it to market, the next big hurdle is raising capital to scale the business. It needs to be the right kind of capital — capital that will help you set up international distribution channels, tackle difficult IP or regulations issues and continue to hire world-class talent.
What risks do you see that might impede the success of emerging tech hubs?
The biggest is definitely brain drain. To give an example, Boston was the leading tech hub in terms of investment in the ’70s and ’80s but once the tech sector evolved to Software, Silicon Valley became king. If emerging tech hubs like Austin lose their luster and talent migrates to LA or Chicago, Austin’s fortunes could very quickly shift.
The second biggest is lack of capital, meaning seed capital dries up because none of the early investments in the region yields results.
What advice would you give to founders early on in their careers?
Be an intrapreneur at a fast growing company. You’ll get a lot of experience, build your network and pad your pockets before you head out on your own.