There’s definitely something special in the air in Utah. For tech-startups as well as established industry players, Utah’s “Silicon Slopes” — an expanding hub of technology companies located near Salt Lake City and Provo –- is proving irresistibly attractive.
In addition to over 6,500 relatively smaller tech businesses, Workday, Overstock.com, Adobe, Vivint Solar, Skullcandy, Domo and most notably and recently, Facebook, have all converged to put down roots in and around the mountains and valleys on the Wasatch Front. Forbes has declared six times since 2010 that Utah is America’s ‘Best State for Business’.
This post will explain some of the reasons why this extraordinary convergence is happening and why entrepreneurs may want to consider Utah as a base for their own tech startup.
Utah’s recent business boom has created a positive feedback loop
With so many prestigious colleges and universities, including business, entrepreneurship and startup programs, thousands of highly-educated and talented potential employees already call Utah home. This makes it easier for businesses to recruit top talent and is one reason Silicon Slopes became a phenomenon in the first place.
In the past three years, tech sector growth in Utah was tremendous. About 6,500 tech businesses now have operations in Utah, and this has led to better infrastructure as well as enhanced networking potential. So, one reason Silicon Slopes is expanding is that it already has so many tech businesses.
Utah combines a low cost of living with the high salaries
CompTIA has gathered data on wages in different sectors of Utah’s economy and found that the average tech industry wage was about $83,000 annually compared to $46,000 annually in the rest of the private sector. Tech businesses and workers stand to pocket substantially more money especially in comparison to California, the state with one of the highest cost-of-living indexes in the country.
Pondering Utah’s ‘secret sauce’
Some have speculated as to whether Utah has something magical in the water as so many successful entrepreneurs have risen from the state. The reality is that Utah can boast a special take on the American spirit. What expert observers note is that Utah blends civic-mindedness, community and a healthy culture that gives people the tools and support to pursue their dreams.
Much can be said for the plenty of fun things to do inside and out and all year round in Utah. Salt Lake City is the nightlife hub of the area, and there is no shortage of opportunities for refinement and entertainment, from Utah events like the Sundance Film Festival to summer concerts to ice skating and skiing and more.
Add the majestic landscapes, enviable climate and low cost of living, and it should come as no surprise that Utah is able to attract talent and entrepreneurs from all over the world and provide an environment that so often serves to foster homegrown business leaders.
Going where the money is
Surprisingly to some, Utah easily beats out every other state in the nation in dollar-per-deal venture capital investments. Utah was the scene of many blockbuster deals in recent years. Recent startup Domo received $457 million while Qualtrics secured $220 million, and there are numerous other examples.
For startups and entrepreneurs aiming a bit lower, there is a healthy mix of government programs and non-profits offering services, microloans, partners and other aids to fledgling small businesses.
Silicon Slopes fixture Prefundia promotes the finances of new businesses when they seek out adequate crowdfunding initiatives. They do this by creating mass awareness, forward momentum and hype for a project in the planning stages and before any funding projects go live.
If you’ve got that one special idea and you need a place to base your operations to transform your idea into a successful reality, Utah and in particular Silicon Slopes has a tremendous amount of positive factors in its favor for you to consider.