Today, entrepreneurship truly is a global phenomenon. In recent decades various hot spots of entrepreneurial activity have emerged all over the globe. While entrepreneurs worldwide certainly share some characteristics, there are also very interesting differences in culture, attitude and motivation for choosing the path of an entrepreneur. In this blog series I want to shed some light on the most innovative and exciting startup ecosystems in the world and identify factors that make them successful and unique.

In this first post the natural choice would be to cover the place which is consistently referred to as the origin and epicenter of startup culture: Silicon Valley, situated on the west coast of the United States and home to former startups like Google, Apple and Facebook. With about 25,000 startups “the Valley” represents the biggest startup ecosystem in the world. [1] Despite its’ size many of its entrepreneurs describe the scene as “one big family”. This already shows the first unique success factor: the founders’ willingness to create one big network and help other startups on the way. This is also known as the “paying forward mentality”.

“My father always told me: Don’t care too much about your grades, just make sure to shake a lot of hands.”

– Don Thorson, Serial Entrepreneur

Another fascinating quality of west coast entrepreneurs is their pragmatism mixed with a willingness to take risks and a fearlessness towards failure. Phrases like “Done is better than perfect.” can be heard everywhere and show a hands-on attitude which is hard to find in other places. Besides, the fact that most startups fail is well known and accepted – failed entrepreneurs are respected for their courage and the experience they have gained along the way. The popular Lean Startup methodology even promotes “failing fast” in order to accelerate the learning process.

Of course factors like having a massive base of Venture Capitalist (well over 10.000 investors), elite education (Stanford University) and an incredible infrastructure of incubators and accelerators certainly cannot be replicated easily. Nevertheless, just adopting the Silicon Valley mentality can probably boost both your personal career as an entrepreneur and the development of your local startup scene at the same time.

“Fear irrelevance more than failure.”

– Pascal Finette, Serial Entrepreneur and Startup Mentor


// All blog posts in this series are based on years of involvement in the German startup scene, work on several startup projects, travels to various startup hot spots around the world and related discussions with founders, mentors, business angels and investors.



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6 Thoughts on “What makes a successful startup scene? – Part 1: The Silicon Valley, USA

  1. Pingback: What makes a successful startup scene? – Part 2: Israel | Intopreneur

  2. Avatar Sara Cedell on September 28, 2016 at 11:44 am said:

    Thanks for sharing! Based on your experience of different startup scenes, would you say that Silicon Valley has something certain, hard for others to replicate, that makes them the superior? Or is it only coincidences?

    • Hi, thanks for your thoughts on this. In my opinion it is very difficult to copy the entire infrastructure of the Silicon Valley. It is a big network in which all parts rely on each other and attract more and more players. For instance, vcs will settle/emerge where they can find the best startups and startups will move to where the can find venture capital. However, this does not mean it is not possibe to create a thriving ecosystem somewhere else. It just takes some time and effort. The pole position the Valley has today certainly is rooted in its’ long history in tech innovations.

      • Avatar Sara Cedell on October 3, 2016 at 4:26 pm said:

        Thanks for replying and thoughts! I like how you emphasize the role of personal engagement, since I know a lot of people trying to improve the startup scene in Stockholm. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: What makes a successful startup scene? – Part 3: Germany | Intopreneur

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