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Silicon Valley isn't a magical kingdom

Thursday, 29 March 2012 | By Niki Scevak

Sitting half-way around the world it's easy to think of Silicon Valley as a magical kingdom of start-ups, but the reality is much more mundane.


As part of each Startmate program we spend a significant amount of time in the United States. There are obvious reasons for this, such as access to investors and the fact that most of the customers of Startmate companies are, by definition, in the US.


But there is one other more subtle reason: To show each start-up that Silicon Valley isn't a magical kingdom of start-ups and that their teams are just as good as the teams trying to build start-ups over there.


There is no doubt the scale of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley is vastly higher than in Australia, perhaps even 100 times. But there is the same ratio of people who are talking about launching a start-up that don't do anything. There is the same ratio of people with whacky ideas of how they will change the world. And there is the same ratio of hangers-on and self-proclaimed “experts”.


It's simply that the denominator is 100 times larger than Australia and that there is 100 times the number of success stories. Like a gambler, you only ever hear of the successful stories of great companies being built, founders raising money and dreams being realised.


The point isn't to say that Silicon Valley is not the best place in the world for start-ups, it is. The point is that the odds of success are roughly the same, wherever you are. Silicon Valley may offer a slight edge but not in proportion to its size.


Every start-up is looking for an edge and Silicon Valley offers a small one, but the dramatically more important things are up to you: Build something people care about. Being in Australia is not an excuse for not doing a start-up or even succeeding at doing a start-up. Just get on with it!