Is Your Startup Tri-Coastal?

In our interconnected world, you can start a company anywhere. (If you're reading this post, there's a great chance you're a local Boston entrepreneur, so cheers!) Wherever you locate your company, you shouldn't have concrete feet.  You can do a lot of good for your company by not only getting outside the building of your startup, but occassionally getting outside your ecosystem you're in.  That means being Tri-Coastal.  

What is Tri-Coastal?

Excuse the actual geography for a second and think about the current state of startup ecosystems. The startup world turns on 3 axises:  Silicon Valley (SF), New York City and Boston.  To be Tri-Coastal, you should be visiting the other great startup hubs from time to time.

What are the rules of being Tri-Coastal?

Being anchored in Boston means you're already living in one of the cities. The key is getting out and taking advantage of the other two cities.  In talking with other great local entrepreneurs the common amount they're doing is:

Why would I want to be Tri-Coastal?

As the leader of your company, you should be trying to create as much opportunity for your startup as possible. Every ecosystem has a different perspective and so going into their environment and meeting with that ecosystem's entrepreneurs and investors will bring valuable insight for your company. Breaking out of your daily routine can also help you think differently about your startup.

Every ecosystem also has unique advantages. In New York City, they are the center of media and advertising and also have a thriving consumer web cluster. In the Valley, you can get unprecedented access to veteran entrepreneurs and a significant amount of startup capital (many Bostonians have raised money out there). Why limit yourself to only the best that Boston has to offer?

How do I get started?

Getting started is just like networking when you first entered Boston's ecosystem: you need to get to know some people. Luckily, with Twitter, Linkedin and startup blogging, it's not too hard. You can always ask for intros from more connected friends when you're starting out, but if you want to roll up your sleeves, here's a few techniques that work:

  • Get to know entrepreneurs that visit Boston. Keep an eye on Twitter and just be a helpful resource.  Often times just taking 10 seconds to tweet back with a link or two suggesting who to meet or what to do can make a new friend who will return the favor when you're in their city.
  • Check who you already know.  Especially with Twitter, you'd be surprised who you already know that is in other ecosystems. People move all the time for different reasons. Many of my best connections to other ecosystems are because friends moved from Boston. Leverage that.
  • Ask your friends who are Tri-Coastal. There are quite a few Bostonians who are already Tri-Coastal. Ask them for tips on how they make the most of their trips.

How can I be Tri-Coastal for cheap?

Being tri-coastal doesn't have to be expensive. It's very easy to imagine astronomical costs associated with flights, hotels and conference passes. It doesn't have to be:

  • Hotel: Couch surf at a friends place or use AirBnb for a cheap alternative.
  • Flights: Take the Boltbus to New York (free wifi!) and you can go roundtrip for under $30 often. There are also often deals for flights to San Francisco, so don't be afraid to use the deal as an excuse for when you time your flight.
  • Conferences: Volunteer at the conferences to get a free ticket. Often you don't have to work very long and suddenly you're saving thousands where you know the people you want to meet will be. (Ian wrote a great Conference Survival Guide about this and more)

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Boston is a great place to build a company, but there's no reason not to take advantage of the 2 other powerhouse ecosystems to give your startup the greatest chance of success.

Many Boston entrepreneurs are already taking advantage. Are you Tri-Coastal?