Right Time to be a SoMa Startup

ImageSeveral times on this blog I’ve tried to articulate the importance of “timing” of opportunities. Having appropriate “timing” implies also being in the right place. Today, we’re again living in a momentous time of opportunity for capable entrepreneurs. And apparently the right place to be is SoMa (South of Market) district in San Francisco.

This week I’ve spent time there meeting several startups as well as some investor-types. Without question, the optimistic energy and sense of urgency to do something “great” is off the chart to anything I’ve witnessed since the late 1990s in the Silicon Valley and even in Seattle. There, startups with big dreams work side-by-side in co-working spaces competing and fueling each other’s ambitions. Certainly the recent valuations of Whatsapp, Instagram, Airbnb, among many other SoMa companies are creating frenzy among entrepreneurs and investors alike. Now, it’s a smoldering hotbed where ideas are created, articulated and funded.

It’s a bit hard for a Seattle serial entrepreneur like myself to admit that the ecosystem here is indeed different than anywhere else in the world. That is not to say that great startups can’t be successful elsewhere but why wouldn’t such ventures eventually move here where the environment is so fertile with infrastructure, talent and capital?

I’ve always admired Paris for how it had attracted so many artists and writers from all over the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. During that time, the collective brilliance and creativity within that “hotbed’ environment changed the world. It was the same in Italy during the beginning of the Renaissance.

Now, does Bay Area, and SoMa in particular, have the same gravitational pull for tech startups? Will the San Francisco culture develop so uniquely that the locals will designate the rest of the country as the paperbelt?

Time will tell but there certainly is an amazing amount of momentum in and around SoMa. Even to be a satellite tech area, those cities need to understand and connect with the dynamics of what is occurring in SoMa right now.