Silicon Valley is certainly the king in terms of venture capital and startup formation.
And while Seattle has grown as a startup city over the years, it’s certainly not quite on the level of the Bay Area.
Speaking on a panel at a Civic Cocktail event this week, Founders Co-op general partner Chris DeVore pointed to a study touting Seattle’s deep talent pool, but also indicated a lack of “startup output” from the city.
“We’re clearly punching below our weight in terms of harnessing that talent and pointing it toward building the next Amazon or the next Tableau,” he said.
DeVore referenced Microsoft and Amazon as reasons for this. Granted, without these massively successful global companies, the city would not be where it is today in a technology and innovation sense.
But his point was that the talented young minds more often than not choose a career at one of the big corporate organizations than take the startup plunge.
“In terms of the opportunity cost of an individual’s professional time, it’s easier to get on Jeff Bezos’ train than it is to start your own,” he said.
A cultural change, DeVore explained, is what Seattle needs if it wants to reach the next level as a startup hub.
“It’s about how academic institutions teach entrepreneurship, how angels invest, how entrepreneurs think and what talent thinks to do,” he said of that shift. “It’s a long cycle of cultural change that we’re making progress on, but it’s going to take a lot of effort from a lot of people to really get us where we need to be.”
DeVore pointed to education and clustered innovation neighborhoods as two ways to really propel the city’s startup ecosystem. Those are two of the initiatives for new city-implemented plan to ensure that entrepreneurs in the area have what they need to succeed.
This has been a debated topic over the past few years in Seattle and right here on GeekWire, with some blaming the lack of entrepreneurial talent and others saying it’s the lack of home-grown venture capital infrastructure in the city.
Seattle, though, does have a couple advantages. There is no income tax, and similar to our brothers to the south in Portland, the cost of living and office space rent is lower.
But DeVore, who hashed out his thoughts on this in a lengthly piece written last December, knows it will take time before the Emerald City reaches startup stardom like San Francisco.
“The hard truth is that the Pacific Northwest is still 20-30 years away from having the kind of down-to-the-roots innovation culture that the Bay Area enjoys today,” he wrote. “We have a huge lead over most other global innovation centers, and our community is rallying around innovation with more commitment and focus than I’ve ever seen here before, but we have decades of work ahead of us.”
DeVore’s comments start at 40:10 in the video below.