In a world where we do everything online, location doesn’t matter for starting your startup does it?
Although I personally can’t stand his writing style, Richard Florida is a smart guy and his books are good. Recently, I’ve been working my way through his Who’s Your City?
In this book, Florida completely slates the idea that you can do whatever you want from wherever you want because our world is ‘flat’ – technology has made it easy to ‘innovate without having to emigrate’ (or so says Thomas Friedmann a New York Times columnist).
He then goes to great length to explain why this idea is really quite mislead.
His conclusion? The world is anything but flat and certain places are better for certain people.
Here’s five reasons that Cardiff is good for startups.
1) Low Rent
Let’s not compare ourselves to London too often – that’s not constructive. We’re two different cities with two vastly different populations.
However, this seems as good a time as any to make a favourable comparison between two of Britain’s capitals: rent in London is immeasurably higher than Cardiff.
Regardless of whether you’re looking at taking up a shop unit in the centre of the city, an office space in a co-working facility or just looking for a place to live and work at the same time, you’re much more likely to find a bargain in Cardiff than you are in the big smoke.
That’s got to be a great financial move for a startup. The more money you save on business costs, the more you can spend on business growth.
2) Low Competition
Sure, there are some amazing benefits when you start your business in a saturated market: notably, you get to work with other companies who are already successful.
That said, where there are similar businesses, there’s also competition.
Take, for example, Rob Lo Bue. He’s the founder of Applingua, an app translation company. If he was going to business in a media city like Paris or Berlin, he might have trouble winning contracts or finding new clients.
That’s not so difficult in a city which is just realising its potential for a startup culture.
3) Upcoming City
That brings us to our next point: we’re an upcoming city.
Cardiff is no longer the home to Cool Cymru or the new Welsh Assembly. No – now we’ve got Welsh Government at 20 and we’re exporting a whole new breed of culture.
Our little city by the sea is becoming a region of its own and that’s a really positive thing. You can be delivering a completed website to a design client in the morning, having lunch in an amazing restaurant in the afternoon and a spot of surfing at Porthcawl to finish the day.
Sure – most people don’t do that every day… but with the way some people are starting to see their life as a startup, it’s a future that doesn’t seem that unrealistic.
4) Massive Investment
So even if you don’t manage to get a slice of the multi million pounds worth of investment that have been pouring into the city from various sources for years now, you’re sure to benefit from them indirectly.
Whether it’s by picking up a client from one of the major media developments (like the forthcoming Porth Teigr) or just taking all of the perks of a nice city centre in, the investment that has come to Cardiff has only added to the appeal of this young city.
5) Great Networks
Because it’s such a small city, it doesn’t take a long time to become hyper connected and if there’s one lesson for startups, it should be: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. With everything from one person companies up to multinationals in the city, you’re likely to be able to make some pretty solid connections within your first year of business.
Need you ask anymore? These five reasons should be enough to have you packing up your MacBook, picking up your suitcase and moving to Plasnewydd or Canton to start building your new business.
If you already live there, well, there’s never been a better time to give a new life a go.
Marc Thomas is the founding editor of Plastik Magazine, a magazine of culture and things relating to creative culture. It represents the creative atmosphere of one of the world’s most vibrant cities – Cardiff. Plastik Magazine exists to document the flux of the city. http://plastik.me