Tag Archives: Rural

Build in a Small Town!

For decades, if you wanted to build a startup, you had to be in Silicon Valley. But today, the best place might just be Tennessee.

Or Omaha. Or Little Rock.

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In today’s market, building away from the coasts offers some huge advantages:

1) Lower burn. This is critical in today’s tough fundraising market.

When I meet with companies in NYC and SF, they often have massive burn rates. Part of the reason is high cost of living.

If you rent is $2000 or $3000 a month, you have to pay yourself and your team more. But what if you could rent a 1 bedroom for $750?

In Biloxi, MS, you can!

This means your seed funding will last much longer. That gives you precious time to find product-market fit.

2) Exposure to different opportunities.

I recently met with a company in a small town in the Midwest. They’re building SaaS for meatpacking.

No one in New York or SF is going to think of that. After all, we don’t have much of a meatpacking industry!

The middle of the country simply has different industries than the big coastal cities. And they need tech too!

Would you rather sell a unique, valuable tool to meatpackers or try to sell the 10th team collaboration app to an over-SaaSed startup?

3) Global teams. In the past, you had to be in Silicon Valley or New York because that’s where the talent was.

Now, remote work is common. A startup based in Iowa could hire a developer in SF and a product manager in Brazil.

This levels the playing field, big time.

4) Fundraising is on Zoom. Today, I met with founders in Nigeria, Canada, New York and DC.

Many of the investors are still in the Bay Area and New York. But the founders are everywhere.

Even as COVID recedes, fundraising has stayed on Zoom. It’s so efficient, I don’t think we’ll ever go back.

This means that a Kalamazoo startup and a Palo Alto startup are on similar footing. They both pop up as boxes on the VC’s screen!

If you have a great product and lots of happy customers, investors will take you seriously.


There are still some advantages to being in a tech center. You can meet investors at in-person events and learn from other founders.

But balanced against the high costs, you’re better off in the heartland.

Where do you think is a better place to build, SF/NYC or a smaller town? Leave a comment and let me know!

More on tech:

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Venture (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Don’t Go Into Debt to Fund Your Startup

Sequoia Dumps Citizen: Ruthless, or Reasonable?

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You Can Get the Same Bank Account as a Professional Investor. Here’s How.

Shortly after giving blood a week ago, I availed myself of the blood center’s free cookies and magazines. I flipped to an article about banking in poor, mostly black areas of the rural south:

…the national banks discourage poorer—and less profitable—clients through minimum-balance requirements and fees. And in many small towns around the Delta, good luck even finding a big traditional lender. From 2012 to 2017, low-income rural communities lost 14% of their bank branches, according to a Federal Reserve study.

This struck me as very sad, since I don’t deal with any of those problems. Ever.

What if you could get an account with a bank that’s entirely online, meaning you don’t need to worry if you live in a rural area? And what if that bank had accounts with no minimum balance and even free checks to boot?

Well, that’s the kind of account I have. And as I read that article, I thought about several friends who’ve had struggles with their banks and asked me the same question: what bank do you use?

I’ve used Ally Bank for about four years, and I do love it so! Here are some of the benefits:

  • No minimum balance
  • Free checks
  • Reimbursement of ATM fees up to $10/month, which is usually plenty for me
  • Tons of fee free ATM’s, including at every Walgreens and CVS
  • Every service is online, no branch to go to, wait in line, and catch COVID at
  • Wait time of 1-2 minutes at most to get a human on the phone, 24/7/365
  • Some of the highest interest rates for savings accounts in the nation, probably because they don’t have to pay for branches and tellers

A friend of mine recently had his bank account frozen due to fraud protection. Naturally, it conveniently happened on a Saturday afternoon, after the branches and phone lines were closed! With Ally’s 24/7 support, this would never have been an issue.

In fact, in four years, I’ve never had one problem with my Ally account.

As a professional investor, deciding where to put money is my entire job. So, I put a good bit of thought into this decision, and it’s worked out well for me.

I’d love to see people of more modest means, people in remote rural areas, and disadvantaged minorities get the same good service as a very fortunate urban white guy like myself. So that’s why I wrote this post!

I have no affiliation with them and won’t get a dime if you sign up. But if you do decide to, the link is here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Photo: Me and some random person’s car. 🙂