A year ago the Midwest seemed on the cusp of a renaissance. Small towns and cities from Pittsburgh to Omaha had perfected the YC model of accelerator creation and low-cost/high-impact funding. The ecosystems have cropped up everywhere there is a coffee shop or an artisanal sandwich truck and the idea of “doing a startup” vs. going to work for some corporate behemoth is a well-worn path for many students. Even as the startup era dies in the Valley it is exploding in the heartland.
That’s right: as SV wanes, the Midwest waxes. Jon Evans makes the point best in his post this weekend although I think he’s missing what’s happening on the periphery:
Hordes of engineering and business graduates secretly dream of building the new Facebook, the new Uber, the new Airbnb. Almost every big city now boasts one or more startup accelerators, modeled after Paul Graham’s now-legendary Y Combinator. Throngs of technology entrepreneurs are reshaping, “disrupting,” every aspect of our economy. Today’s big businesses are arthritic dinosaurs soon devoured by these nimble, fast-growing mammals with sharp teeth. Right?
Er, actually, no. That was last decade. We live in a new world now, and it favors the big, not the small. The pendulum has already begun to swing back. Big businesses and executives, rather than startups and entrepreneurs, will own the next decade; today’s graduates are much more likely to work for Mark Zuckerberg than follow in his footsteps