6 of the Top Cities in the Nation for Startup Entrepreneurs

6 of the Top Cities in the Nation for Startup Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are heavily influenced by their environment, ranging from the innovations that people around them are creating to the talent available to hire. In the United States, some cities have unique cultural differences and varying opportunities that make them ideal for many entrepreneurs. When attempting to figure out the best place to launch a startup, it’s a good idea to investigate the entrepreneurial environment of various cities. Identifying a suitable location will enable people to surround themselves with the knowledge, support, and talent that they need to achieve success. Here are six of the top cities in the United States to launch a new business:

1. Raleigh, North Carolina

While Raleigh was once known as a textile and tobacco town, it has emerged as a major software hub with many successful startups. The city’s downtown area has become a hotspot for new businesses, many of which began at HQ Raleigh, a coworking space that provides entrepreneurs with access to mentors and flexible leases. Raleigh is also replete with talent. The city is part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, a region reputed as a booming startup site that comprises Durham, Raleigh, and the town of Chapel Hill. According to WalletHub, the Research Triangle has the fourth-most educated population in the US. Nearly 50 percent of the talent there possess an undergraduate degree or higher and often from top local schools such as Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Due to the presence of universities with dynamic computer science and engineering programs, Raleigh is a great choice for tech-based startups.

2. Austin, Texas

The Austin metro area is growing at a rate four times that of both San Jose and San Francisco, largely due to the surge in entrepreneurship in the area. Many tech giants, including Dropbox, Facebook, Google, and Amazon, have recognized the potential in Austin and established offices there. The city’s entrepreneurial transformation is not recent.  Austin-based organizations such as Whole Foods and Dell have been attracting talent to the city for decades. Furthermore, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference that occurs every spring has become a primary avenue for sharing new projects and gaining supporters. While the startups in Austin are heavily focused on consumer tech, food and drink companies are also thriving, such as Deep Eddy Vodka.

3. Denver, Colorado

Over the last few years, Denver has attracted a large number of young people in search of entrepreneurship opportunities. The city’s growth has been especially driven by its early-stage technology-focused investors, such as Rockies Venture Club, Denver Angels, and Techstars Sustainability Accelerator. The sectors experiencing the greatest expansion include artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as blockchain technology. However, many companies outside of the tech industry are also attracting attention. For instance, a company that creates bedding from eucalyptus-based materials called Sheets & Giggles was listed in a 2019 Thrillist article on the best startups to rely on.


4. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City has earned the nickname Silicon Slopes, and tech giants such as Oracle, Electronic Arts, and Adobe operate offices in the city. Several companies that were founded there have also achieved success, including KNHO Film and LUX Catering and Events. Local entrepreneurs usually pursue their education at Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University, and the affordability of the area attracts tech talent. The city also has a strong entrepreneurial network, which makes it possible for people to obtain guidance from other entrepreneurs.

5. Nashville

Possessing over 20 university and college campuses, Nashville is a great place to launch a startup. While most people might associate Nashville with country music, its most-thriving industry is healthcare. Six of the largest hospital chains nationwide have their headquarters in Nashville, and over 800 healthcare companies exist in the city. The economic environment has resulted in the creation of numerous healthcare startups. They include Covenant Surgical Partners and Aspire Health, both of which focus on services and solutions for outpatient healthcare delivery.

6. Orlando

Historically, Orlando’s economy has been driven by tourism as the home of Disneyworld. However, the city has transformed into a destination for technology startups and entrepreneurs in the aerospace and aviation industries. In fact, over 200 companies focused on these industries exist in the city. In addition, the modeling and simulation industry generates over $4 billion in contracts each year. The sector develops programs used for military training and to power rides at surrounding theme parks. Moreover, Orlando has taken steps over the last several years to make the city more welcoming for early-stage startups through opening coworking spaces, seed funds, and accelerator programs. Some of these include FireSpring Fund, Venture ScaleUp, and GuideWell Innovation Center, the lattermost of which focuses on healthcare startups. Several successful companies have come from Orlando, including the drone company Hoverfly Technologies, and Fattmerchant, a payment processing solutions provider.

About the Author

Joanna RileyJoanna (Jo) Riley is an entrepreneur, investor, and advocate in technology, and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Censia. Jo has a highly experienced background in building and scaling companies, which she attributes to her deep passion for people and building technologies that allow people to be their best selves. She brings her wide knowledge of the industry to better transform the way enterprise companies hire talent. You can connect with Joanna Riley at @joannakiddriley on Twitter or on Linkedin. Read her full bio here.