No, we cannot all be Silicon Valley and it does not matter

In a recent article by Trevor Gilbert over on PandoDaily (a good site) entitled “You will not be the next Silicon Valley, please stop trying”  he clearly says enough about Newry, Northern Ireland to get a few excited comments (which is the point, right?).  Several of those comments pointing to the seeming arrogance of the post in stating that Silicon Valley is a one (well probably one except for maybe New York and Las Vegas) and only proposition when it comes to launching great startups.

As a serial entrepreneur from the mid-Atlantic (yes we do start companies on the East Coast in areas other than Cambridge and New York even) can attest Silicon Valley and Alley both have superior chemistry in that regard to many regions, so let’s not hate.  But I am not sure Mr. Gilbert fully grasps the true point of Newry despite his updated comments regarding them specifically.

In what should be more complement than challenge for supremecy, entrepreneurs and investors are waking up to the economy of abundance.  They are saying yes to creating unique ecosystems to foster local innovation and development like the Valley.  Essentially this economy of abundance suggests that the ingredients to success can come together in many places and spaces.  That talent need not flee to a physical zip code around Sandhill Road to succeed.  We are not assured success in trying but in short, a ‘cook can come from anyone, and anyone can cook’.

Going to an unusual disney source for inspiration, Remy the cooking mouse discovers this very fact, that indeed a ‘cook’ can come from anyone – even a mouse!

Individual regions now understand the value in creating start-up ecosystems.  Hubs that can retain local talent and use the new power of connectedness across boarders to fuel the best ideas from around the world, not from around the Valley.  I am pretty sure by scrolling through the comments this is the simple cry that is heard.  We do not want to be Silicon Valley, it is unique, no doubt.  However, many entrepreneurs and investors don’t want to have to live in a certain region to make ideas work.

I think even David Cohen of TechStars would admit that Boulder (which also did not make Mr. Gilbert’s list of interesting technology places) did not start out with a vibrant ecosystem but I doubt many would question what TechStars has accomplished.  And now with the support of the Global Accelerator Network, championed by TechStars and efforts like it across many regions we may even find here in the mid-Atlantic that we don’t need to be Silicon Valley but we all can cook!

I’m glad everything has been invented already too

Unfortunately I cannot find the video clip on-line (ok, I did not search that hard) but I have a distinct memory of an interview a while back with an older elementary/young middle school student who was commenting on how he was happy to have come after his parents generation. I distinctly remember his comment that basically everything in technology had been invented. To him the iThis and iThat were the beginning of the end of the technology road. What else could one need?

I certainly admire the fact that he is content and I suppose many of us do live in extreme comfort when it comes to technological gadgetry but is there “nothing new under the sun”? I certainly hope not. In fact, I know we need more innovation  every time I get frustrated trying to parse data into a database or deal with date manipulations in code.  You would think concepts like that should barely require human intervention at all at this point! No, it may be tempting to get caught in the “tyranny of the present” and think the road ahead is littered with me too social networks, coupon sites and nextVilles but there is plenty of space for genuine innovation and invention (and successful, well marketed me too concepts).  We are shifting, if not already, into an economy of abundance where our ability to create and impact the life of others is unprecedented.

In fact, I would venture to say that we have at least until glasses tell you everything and we all fly to work until the world of innovation ends.  Yikes, that may be closer than we think!