Recently, I asked on ReadWriteWeb: should European entrepreneurs aim smaller and within their comfort zone, take greater risks in the Valley, or try the hard way in the old continent? I decided to put my money where my mouth is and move to San Francisco. This might seem like a sudden move for some, but those close to me know it’s not. I’ve been thinking of moving to Silicon Valley since 2007. For various reasons, I decided to stay in Finland, work on my startup from here, and help the ecosystem.
The various entrepreneurship societies are doing a superb job changing this. Every year, more students are interested in creating startups. Often, they are the smart ones too! You can learn to pitch, network and to be lean, in programs like Bootcamp or Summer of Startups. But you’ll have to deal with trying to find funding from fewer, less experienced sources, networking mostly in local events, and mostly failing at getting media attention. In the end, you’ll either have to settle for “whatever you can get” (eg: less), or to endure those things.
There’s a third solution: to refuse this game. Prepare in Finland, and move away. Learn as much as possible here to prepare yourself for where you need to go. Regarding Mysites, we’re at a point where we need funding to grow, and I don’t think it’s worth continuing if we don’t. So it makes sense to maximize our chances, we’ll get more bang for our buck there. I think it’s the same for startups such as AudioDraft and DealMachine. I don’t think we should forget where our roots are from, though. In fact, it’s important we don’t.
We come with a smaller network and less funding, but more war stories and lessons learned than most. That’s valuable. There are many Nordics coming in and out of the valley, so I’ll do what I can to get us together, raise our profile and hopefully all of us will gain something from this. I’ll blog more on ReadWriteWeb to make our best people shine, and try to give my company the chance it deserves. There are others coming during the same period as well: Applifier, Kristo Ovaska. I hope my move will inspire others to come.