Aaron Franklin has been an active member of the Seattle startup community over the years. He’s participated in Startup Weekend in Redmond, attended events like Hops & Chops and actively blogs on the Web site Seattle 2.0.
But when the 29-year-old former Microsoft employee was looking to start his new company, a task management service called LazyMeter that is launching today, Franklin decided to pack his bags for the San Francisco Bay Area.
I asked him why, and his response is one that gets to the crux of the ongoing debate on the merits of Silicon Valley versus Seattle.
Here’s what Franklin — who left for San Francisco about a month ago — had to say about the decision:
“I didn’t feel a ‘need’ to go to the Bay Area to be successful. But I felt it increased the odds of success. There are more events here for networking, and more investment opportunities. I felt as if I’d be making a trip to San Francisco at least monthly, which made up for the difference in rent.One thing I noticed on my trips to the Bay Area was a feeling that you can change the world. It was hard to pitch a vision in Seattle, and I was asked on multiple occasions for a business plan. When I pitch LazyMeter in San Francisco, the focus is on long-term vision; there’s an excitement about how it can potentially change the world and improve people’s lives, with less emphasis on money. There were some other factors, like a more efficient public transit system, and cutting down my fiance’s commute.
Seattle has a very unique tech scene. I’ve been in the Bay Area for a month now, and I still haven’t found anything like Hops & Chops or Open Coffee to network and get support. I would absolutely consider moving back and having a company headquarters in Seattle, but my experience was it was hard to launch there.”
Franklin hits on some recurring themes that have been popping up in the Seattle entrepreneurial community — highlighted in Marcelo Calbucci’s guest post on GeekWire “A challenge to Seattle VCs: Back 100 seed-stage startups in 24 months.” There’s an opinion, at least among some entrepreneurs, that Seattle’s deal terms are too stringent and investors don’t always think openly or big about new ideas. (Of course, VCs tend to think the same of entrepreneurs).
As far as LazyMeter goes, Franklin describes it as an online task management system that’s designed to eliminate the Post-It note or pen-and-paper lists. The service offers a visual time meter showing how you are progressing on completing your tasks for the day.
There’s no shortage of competition in the space, with Microsoft Outlook, Google Tasks, Remember the Milk and Omnifocus also offering task management solutions. But Franklin said that most of the competitive offerings end up creating even more lists and — as a result — more work for the user.
“We realized we could provide feedback and help users focus on one day at a time, so they’d feel better at the end of the day,” he said.
Franklin previously spent five years at Microsoft working in the Online Services Division. Co-founder Josh Runge, 26, is a MIT grad who previously worked on Bing at Microsoft.