Top Cities for Start-ups and 5 Tips for Success in 2021

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When you think of start-up companies, the image that probably pops into your head is of a few young “twenty-something-year-olds” working out of a parent’s garage in the heart of silicon valley. Now I will admit, that is exactly what I thought of, and technically we are partially correct. According to Small Business Trends, in 2016, 69% of U.S. entrepreneurs started their businesses at home. And in 2021 starting a business is arguably more popular than it was 5 years ago.

What these statistics show us is that people are looking for alternatives to the status quo. That also means markets are oversaturated and many start-ups are faced with high operating expenses in pricey markets such as San Francisco, Denver, and New York City. 

Startups in 2021

Today we’re looking at the top cities for start-ups that are alternatives to the status quo and additionally, we’ll share 5 pieces of advice that will help foster success in 2021. The cities we share are in no particular order, but rather each location will have unique offerings that can benefit a start-up company in various ways.

Side Note: Be aware of the Surge Index Scores provided for each city. For further information on the methodology of these rankings, click here.


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1. Austin, Texas

Besides being one of three state capitals on this list, Austin, Texas also kicks us off as one of two locations we recommend in “The Lonestar State”. According to INC. In 2021, Austin is growing four times faster than most of Silicon Valley. There are more reasons than we can fit on this list why start-up entrepreneurs and employees are quickly flocking like geese to this beloved city. Without further ado, we condensed the first few notable reasons together for you.

  • Access to graduates from Texas’s top institution, UT of Austin, and home to a scene of remarkable contemporary artists and flourishing creatives.
    • This one-two punch of highly educated and creative individuals will inevitably spark the innovation to fuel the fire of your start-up endeavors
  • There is a commonly adapted idiom that was first dubbed in a 1716 book by Christopher Bullock, “Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes”
    • This dinner-table cliche would be cornier if it wasn’t true and in the situation of your start-up, taxation could very well destroy most of the success that you create.
    • Well, that’s not nice.
    • Lucky for Austinites, there’s no state income tax for individuals and no corporate tax for businesses.
    • So there you have it, a tax match made in heaven.

2. Sacramento, Californiabest product photographers

If you can’t fully picture yourself away from the hype of the Bay Area start-up scene, then Sacramento may be the happy medium that allows for the best of both worlds. Let’s take a look at what the capital of the “Golden State” is serving up.

  • For starters, the cost of living is about half of that of San Francisco. 
    • Hoorah! We love to save money.
  • The location is approximately 2 hours northeast of the Bay Area and a few hours south of thriving Oregon cities.
    • This allows for a relatively easy passage for securing Business deals in Silicon Valley and or in underrated regions of Oregon that are on the rise
  • Work/Life Balance or Work/Life harmony as wildly successful entrepreneur Jeff Bezos prefers to put it.
    • I know, Work/Life harmony may be low on your priority list when considering locations for your start-up business, as there seem to be so many more important factors that should be weighed heavier in this decision. But just hear us out.
    • Sacramento is a city that promotes culture with a laid-back vibe. On top of that, it is close to the mountains and other natural beauties which are perfect for weekend getaways and mental health retreats.
    • These are important factors in your personal life to consider because you have to enjoy the life and environment outside of work to be able to recharge the mental and physical reserves required for the grueling years of the start-up process that lie ahead.


best product photographers3. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

For this startup location, we take a journey back down south to Dallas & Fort Worth. I’m sure the Dallas/FW area didn’t come to mind at all when you considered possible profitable start-up hotspots, we’ll let you in on this hidden gem before it is too late.

  • Dallas’s real estate prices (both residential and commercial) are over 20% cheaper than the nationwide median.
  • I think it would be safe to say this is one of the biggest expenses for young entrepreneurs.
  • I mean who doesn’t love to save money, right?
  • The area is home to more than 40 universities, including the 3 biggest public institutions in the area (the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington, UT Dallas).
  • This leaves plenty of opportunities to recruit young and hungry, recently graduated students, that can bring creativity and ambition to your start-up.

4. Raleigh, North Carolina

Believe it or not, the East Coast has plenty of opportunities for your next start-up adventure. The capital of North Carolina is no exception. The area is home to more than a handful of incubators and accelerators, but that is only scratching the surface.

  • Raleigh’s location lies a triangulated range of some of the most renowned higher education/tech institutions in the country: North Carolina State University (Raleigh), Duke University (Durham), University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) 
    • Once again, you will have painless access to some of the most highly educated individuals/researchers from in-demand fields that our nation has to offer
    • Consequently, this can help add some positive assets to your team
  • Secondly, Raleigh offers the second-lowest-cost of living index from the locations we mention today (only trailing Dallas/FW by a small margin)

Now let’s move on to the advice for start-up success that we all very much crave in 2021. The following tips involve crucial principles and reflective questions to keep in mind as you progress on your journey.

best product photographers
best product photographers

Top Tips for Startups in 2021 

1. Be crystal clear of your niche

  • Over-saturated markets leave little to no room for new start-up companies 
  • Not niching down will only waste money, time, effort & frustration due to the scarcity of revenue left over by the market giants

2. Heavily research the market you want to pursue

  • Your grand innovation may be perfect in your eyes, but will customers pay money for it?
  • What is the value proposition of your idea? Will it significantly differentiate your business from the competition?

3. It’s about who you know, not always what you know

  • We talked about the type of employees that you bring in earlier in this blog. Do they share the same vision as you? Will they be assets or liabilities?
  • How strong is your professional network? Do you know any possible investors that are bought into the journey?

4. Learn to Sell

  • A massive majority of business(which I understand is a broad term) revolves around sales
  • It is not always about who has the best product or service, but rather who does the best at sending customers home with a purchase
  • That is ultimately going to be the person that goes to cash a check at the end of the day

5. Market to reach larger audiences

best product photographers
best product photographers
best product photographers

Well, what do you think?

We know the journey of establishing your start-up business as a relevant player in the field is one of learning and perseverance due to the sobering fact that 90% of start-ups won’t survive. This is all the more reason why diligent planning is key to having a chance in the competitive world of entrepreneurship. Whether it is deciding on a location that makes the most sense for growing your idea or selling and marketing a polished innovation, everyone’s path will be unique, but worth the while. 

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