Five Reasons to Launch Your Startup in Eugene

Where should you launch your startup? Silicon Valley has long been a popular destination, but that popularity comes with a price tag that can drag down an emerging company. There are a lot of reasons to consider Eugene, Oregon and the state’s Southern Willamette Valley when getting ready to launch your startup.

Here are five of reasons you should consider the region:

1) Access to capital networks

Forget everything you think you know about pursuing venture capital.

Investor Evangelos Simoudis of Trident Capital recommended that startup founders “build where they are” at the recent Big Opportunities with Big Data Conference at the University of Oregon. According to him, large markets like San Francisco are overcrowded with new companies, which can make it difficult for good ideas to stand out. Why would you launch your startup where no one can see it?

Investors, unlike the startup bubble in Silicon Valley, are spread out across the country. Oregon alone hosts seven different angel conferences where companies can pursue investment.

But what if you are bent on relocating? Consider a smaller city within easy reach of the major population centers you want to target. Many federal, state and local programs provide special incentives and grants to entrepreneurs who are willing to build their companies outside of traditional corporate centers.

2) Easy access to major west coast markets

Eugene is the biggest “small city” between San Francisco and the Portland/Seattle markets. Why does this matter? After you launch your startup and the company begins to take off, you will want to introduce your product to larger markets without incurring the high costs of living and renting workspace in them.

Transportation can be as inexpensive as a $1 bus ticket or a $20 round-trip train ticket for those wanting to travel in style—wifi included. If flying is your thing, the Eugene airport has flights leaving every hour for San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and beyond.

Eugene Amtrak Coast

3) Network of resources and support

In addition to capital and markets, successful startup companies need access to a variety of resources, including people and space. The new Eugene Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN Eugene), the University of Oregon and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce anchor the community and provide access to shared laboratory space, mentorship and guidance, a highly qualified workforce, and a support network of local development organizations, incubators and co-working spaces.

Check out this list of local resources for more information.

4) Low Cost of Living

Rent in San Francisco is three times the national average and costs $1,000 more than comparable cities. Although other major west coast markets, including Portland and Seattle cost significantly less, you can still save on average $3,600 per year in rent alone by basing your startup in Eugene. Food, transportation and other essentials also cost less than in larger markets.

Why does this matter? Startup enterprises require a capital and time to succeed. That $3,600 or more you just saved on rent can be put back into your company while your competition struggles to make ends meet each month.

Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition

Bike culture: another reason to launch your startup in Eugene

5) High Quality of Life

Anyone who lives in Eugene knows all about the city’s quality of living: easy access to the Pacific Ocean, hiking in Oregon’s green forests, skiing in the Cascades, an active music and nightlife scene, art galleries, the Saturday Market and much more. That’s one reason why Forbes Magazine just rated Eugene in the top ten cities in the country for work-life balance. A low cost of living, quality transportation systems, diverse economy and relaxed environment contribute equally to a city that works hard and relaxes well.

Source: Forbes Magazine

Andrew Stiefel; photo by Flickr user Erik Bishoff is licensed under CC by 2.0.