Say Chicago For New Tech Cool


Chicago, Chicago that toddling town
Chicago, Chicago I’ll show you around – I love it
Bet your bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago

Chicago White Sox are the world champions, the Cubbies are doing well, and guess what tech is blooming in the middle of the country. Chicago’s Crains chronicles good things happening to 37Signals, Feed Burner, Hostway and a bunch of other start-ups. Most have made it happen without venture capital (not FeedBurner) and I am most impressed with TicketsNow.

Mike Domek has built, a Crystal Lake-based online ticket vendor, to $142 million in annual sales without outside investors. Mr. Domek expects sales to hit $250 million in 2006.

Hostway is another big winner – had $100 million in sales in 2005…. and growing. What about 37Signals… we know their story all too well. I think it is proof, that in our post broadband world, good ideas can not only survive but thrive anywhere on the planet. Net Vibes, and scores of other start-ups around the world should take note. The other night I met the Dooce crew and they have built a sizeable business in Salt Lake City, Utah. The reminded of my story, Escape From Silicon Valley.

More than ever, launching a business today is all about connections—starting with broadband connections. In the past 24 months, there’s been a quiet surge in the geographic spread of high-speed Internet networks, and that has dramatic implications for economic development, jobs, and entrepreneurial opportunities.



What types of cities do you think are ideal then for starting a business?

I would say inexpensive college towns like for example say ann arbor…you can hire high calibre but lowcost parttime talent from the vast student pool.


Hi Om, Anjali here from chi-town. Things are definitely starting to pick up, thanks to the return of experienced entrepreneurs from the Valley who are bringing new energy to the area. Keep us in your radar, perhaps we are finally on to something! Chicago offers a great lifestyle, diversified economy and convenient location.

Brian Breslin

What types of cities do you think are ideal then for starting a business? more specifically a tech business? Chicago has the advantage it isn’t as overpriced as other places (SanDiego, SF, LA, NY, Miami), and has good access to lots of universities in the area.
If location were truly irellevant (venture funding…), then one could argue omaha nebraska or some other small college town? Or maybe just access to an airport is key?

Om Malik

dooce might be a personal weblog, but boy it is making some dought. try buying some ads on it. you will see. it has some serious traffic.

Brian McConnell

VoIP telephone and collaboration services will only accelerate this trend away from the San Francisco Bay Area, as these services effectively bring the cost of long-distance collaboration to zero. We built a complex system with developers spread across several countries, and plan to run most of the business from much lower cost cities.

If you are not chasing VC money, it is less and less important to be in a capital city. From a quality of life standpoint, Silicon Valley leaves a lot to be desired if you’re not a multi-millionaire.

It is also good to live and work in a city where most people do not work in tech (i.e. real customers) versus the Bay Area (where web 2.0 flatus rebreathing has gotten out of control).


Dooce has built a sizeable business in Utah? I don’t get it…a sizeable business doing what, just looks like someones personal weblog to me.

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